2018- After a flurry of student led fund raising activities, Palisade High School students and faculty came to the Ouray National Fish Hatchery, Grand Valley Unit’s 24 Road facility to solidify plans for a Palisade High School/ USFWS partnership creating an on-campus endangered fish hatchery. Endangered razorback sucker will be raised by students and integrated into numerous high school courses at Palisade High School. While this isn’t the only endangered fish hatchery operated by high school students, it is one of a very small handful in the United States and potentially the only non-salmonid endangered fish project of its kind. This partnership will give the Upper Colorado River Endangered Fish Recovery Program a unique opportunity to interact with local community stakeholders all the while helping to inspire the next generation of potential fisheries scientists, as well as boost populations of these very rare fish in the upper Colorado River. Students will operate the facility with guidance from Ouray NFH-GVU personnel. Left to right: Palisade High School Fish Hatchery manager/ science teacher Pat Steele, PHS Fish Hatchery Leadership Council members Levi Van Pelt and James Soria, and Mike Gross USFWS. Photo by Haden VanWinkle USFWS

Michael Gross, USFWS

Every project, no matter the scale or the impact, takes true grit and perseverance to see through. The development of a hatchery at Palisade High School (PHS) is no exception. A dedicated group of students and teachers planned and raised money to make the hatchery a reality.
Last year’s seniors: Kaleb Hawkins, Isabelle Haderlie, and Emily Tucker, raised more than $3,000 by donating scholarships they were awarded and selling peaches to help fund the project. In addition, they were instrumental in establishing relationships with many of the donors and organizations that committed to the PHS Fish Hatchery project.
This year’s seniors: Levi Van Pelt, James Soria, and Dyllon Hoaglund, played a major role in recruiting younger students to create a legacy project. They also acted as public liaisons to develop public relations and secure the additional $35,000 in funding that enabled the fish hatchery’s construction and maintenance to begin.
“This project has meant so much more to me than a simple service project,” says Van Pelt. “Through my work on the Palisade High School Fish Hatchery, I have been able to truly act in the ideals of the International Baccalaureate Program, not only working to improve my local community, but embodying the ideals of altruism while making a substantial difference in curbing global issues. This project has allowed all of us working on it to address the global issues of water scarcity, biodiversity, and the education that surrounds both of them, and make an actual impact in changing them. With a strong passion for environmental science and the goal to expand my education through collegiate studies, this project has provided me with an opportunity to make headway into something that falls in-line with what I plan to pursue as a career field, environmental studies and sustainability.”
The dedication displayed by PHS students is evidence of the collaboration and excitement that has made this project a profound success. “The passion behind this project originates with education and environmental protection. To have the ability to encompass both in a single foundation is an outstanding feat that has made me so proud to be a part of this community,” says Hoaglund. “Palisade’s academic and nurturing culture has had an amazing effect on its students, and it has been evident throughout this project.” This project is, and will continue to be, a prodigious addition to Palisade High School and the rest of the district, where environmental education will continue to thrive and develop.