San Luis Obispo County Elementary Schools – Trout Release 2022

Local elementary students get outside for trout conservation

San Luis Schools – Lake Lopez Fish Release 2022

On April 15, 21 and 22, 2022, third grade students from Lucia Mar and San Luis Coastal Unified School Districts came to Lopez Lake to release rainbow trout that were hatched and raised in classrooms.

After their first bus ride since the beginning of the pandemic, activities included trout release, a picnic under the oaks, a scavenger hunt and a nature hike.

“The trout release event is meaningful for young learners,” says Don Chartrand, executive director of Creek Lands Conservation. “They form relationships with these trout and many have names and personalities in their imagination. This year, it was especially meaningful after a long lapse in field trips due to Covid.”

Creek Lands Conservation provides environmental literacy education for 3rd and 4th grade students through a program called Protecting Our Watersheds (POW). With support from the Harold J. Miossi Charitable Trust, the POW program provides students with an opportunity to learn ecological principles both in the classroom and outdoors. POW guides students toward establishing personal connections with central coast ecology, native plants, and wildlife. Grade 3 students receive lessons that leverage the much-loved Trout in the Classroom program.

“The best part of this program is what happens outside the classroom — field trips!” says Chartrand. “This year, more than 500 students from Templeton to Nipomo were able to witness the release of the baby trout they had raised in their classrooms.”

Students and teachers raise trout from eggs to fingerlings in chilled aquariums provided by Creek Lands Conservation. From there, teachers lead students through Habitats & Species lessons that prepare students for the trout-release field trip, an engaging field experience that helps students anchor the lessons while building fulfilling connections with the outdoors.

Rainbow trout, known as steelhead trout when they successfully migrate to the sea, provide a thematic foundation for students and teachers in the program. Understanding steelhead life cycles and habitat requirements leads to understanding more about the health and function of central coast watersheds and coastal marine ecosystems.

For more than 20 years, Creek Lands Conservation (formerly known as Central Coast Salmon Enhancement) has studied central coast watersheds to improve steelhead habitat, reduce soil erosion and improve water quality and riparian habitat. Their ongoing research has brought about regulations to support restoration and protection of Steelhead habitat. Learn more at

Don and Christiana leading the San Luis Coastal school field trip students to the waters edge for the Lopez Lake trout release 2022.

For additional information about the POW Trout in the Classroom program and the San Luis Costal Unified School District – Trout Release event contact the Creek Lands Conservation team at