Funding Opportunity For Creative Projects

Ezra Jack Keats Foundation Accepting Mini-Grant Applications


Established by children’s book author and illustrator Ezra Jack Keats, the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation is accepting applications from public schools and public libraries anywhere in the United States and its territories to its mini-grants program.

The program is intended to support projects that foster creative expression, collaboration, and interaction with a diverse community. The funding program will award grants of up to $500 to educators to create special activities outside the standard curriculum and make time to encourage their students. Projects funded in the past include murals, pen pal groups, quilts, theater productions, newspapers and other publications, intergenerational activities, and programs that bring disparate communities together. Starting in 2016, mini-grants also will fund programs that support the Common Core Standards within the curriculum.

In honor of Ezra’s 100th birthday, the foundation is calling for all mini-grant proposals submitted through March 2016 to have a Keats theme. Every program, from puppet shows to science projects, should be informed by one or more aspect of Keats’s books, life, and vision.

Public schools and public libraries are eligible to apply. Preschool Head Start programs also are eligible. Only public organizations are eligible; private and parochial schools should not apply. Charter schools also are ineligible. Applicants must be located in the U.S. or its commonwealths or territories, including Puerto Rico and Guam. Only one application from each library or school will be considered.

Complete program guidelines, a video tutorial for applicants, and the application form are available at the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation website.


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For Teachers In Santa Clara and Santa Cruz Counties

A time of change

South Bay Trout in the Classroom (SBTIC) is a newly forming partnership to provide support services to teachers affected by the closing of the STEP program. We are working with an impressive list of organizations to provide support to you – however it will take us time to get to the level provided by STEP.

Changes to the program

Some things change, most stay the same. Here are the changes you can anticapate:

  • You will be hatching rainbow trout in place of steelhead trout. Both are native to California
  • Your release site needs to be a freshwater lake
  • There is limited support to help teachers in completing and submitting your application for eggs
  • Teachers will need to pick up eggs from one of several centralized locations (as opposed to having them delivered to your classroom

Other than that – ths fish are the same species, both are native to California, and both have the same habitat requirements. Much of the teaching can remain the same while new opportunities for teaching concepts will appear.

Instructions for filling out your 772 application

  • Fill out the application for eggs and submit it by 12/18/15
    • Under sponsor organization: write SBTIC
    • Leave other sponsor information blank
    • Species requested: rainbow Trout
    • Month and year eggs are requested: February 2016
    • Proposed release site: Check the list of approved release sites.
  • Keep a copy for your records. We encourage you to submit your application by email to or by fax to (707) 944-5563.
  • Check the list of approved applications the following week to ensure your application was received and processed.


Contact us at

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Providing Life-Affirming Experiences – Not Just Facts

Isn’t experiencing life through personal discovery, cooperative challenges, and self-directed learning more enjoyable and exciting than listening to a recitation of facts, no matter how interesting those facts are? I am sure your students would think so.

Here is an a fun article written by our very own Bob Flasher on the value of immersing students in the learning experience.

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Thoughts On Hatching Fish…one educator to another

Dear Teacher,

I write to you as a former classroom teacher who is most recently working with Fish and Wildlife. I’d like to share my thoughts with you about Trout in the Classroom, and why you may want to try hatching trout fry with your students.

All of us remember having that special classroom where living critters brought animation and daily excitement to school. Maybe it was silkworms fattening up on leaves to spin their cocoons, or, perhaps, reptiles in a terrarium, or even a mammal with shavings on the cage bottom. Sometimes there were chores assigned to keep the exhibit clean and tidy. Whatever kind of living thing it was – it stimulated our interest, provoked questions, and otherwise made the learning environment a fun place to be.

Imagine presenting your students with a group of eyed eggs! These are small, beautiful orange eggs from a fish hatchery where native California trout are spawned! The ‘eyed’ appearance is evidence of a fertilized, developing egg that your class can experience “hatching out” into tiny free swimming larval fish known as alevin. Then, absorbing that ‘yolk sac’ and being ready for release into approved lakes or ponds. alevin

Know that the lessons you share to meet science standards about features of physiology (body systems) or relationships in an ecosystem (matter and energy) or on the chemistry of life (carbon cycle, respiration) will be received in a whole new way with the addition of a classroom aquarium project.

As a teacher, your ability to make the lessons flow where you want them to go is of primary importance. Many of us are interested in drawing parallels between salmonids that live out their life history in ‘landlocked’ aquatic systems with those of anadromous life history that must spend time in marine habitats as a part of their migration to and from stream of birth.

We at Fish and Wildlife are also united with you in reinforcing the concept of stewardship with California’s students. We’d like to help! Won’t you join us?

David Moore, Interpretive Services,

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about changes with the STEP program

Steelhead eggs for teachers in the STEP program (Santa Clara and Santa Cruz Counties) are no longer available for classroom incubation and the STEP program has announced their intention to cease operating this program.

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife is working with local community organizations to ensure teachers have the opportunity to continue hatching fish in their classrooms and teaching the valuable lessons associated with this process.

Below is a list of frequently asked questions (FAQs) regarding the transition and the difference in incubating steelhead and rainbow trout. Please feel free to ask more questions and they can be included here.


Why is the STEP program being shut down?

The Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and STEP have been partners in this program for the past 27 years. The program is not being “shut down:” the directors of STEP are choosing to cease operations. We believe the following factors influenced this action:

  • The Kingfisher Flat hatchery (operated by STEP) currently lacks a federal permit and will not be able to “take” fish until they are able to comply with all the conditions of the permitting process. While STEP has expressed desire to comply with this requirement, it will be a long and expensive process. CDFW is working with STEP to this end.
  • The drought and operational problems at the hatchery have made it impossible for STEP to provide steelhead eggs to classrooms for the past 2 years. In this time, approximately 60 new teachers have been trained by STEP and have been unable to hatch steelhead.

Will I be able to hatch fish with my students this year?

Yes you will. Rainbow trout will be made available to all STEP qualified teachers who request them.

What are the differences in raising rainbow versus steelhead trout?

The fish are identical in almost every way. Your existing equipment is fine and you hatch and raise rainbow in the same manner as steelhead trout.

What are the differences between steelhead and rainbow trout?

A steelhead is an anadromous (or ocean going) rainbow trout. The species are identical – except one remains in fresh water while the other goes to sea.

I have heard CDFW is offering “sterile stocker trout” eggs that can only be released into “enclosed compounds” – what exactly does this mean?

Rainbow trout are native to California. As a matter of fact, rainbow trout were “discovered” and named in Redwood Creek in Berkeley in the mid-1880s. These fish are the brood stock used to provide eggs for hatching in classrooms. The eggs are “sterilized” so that if the fish survive, they cannot breed with wild strains of native rainbows. This is standard procedure for all fish planted by CDFW. The term “enclosed compound” simply refers to a lake. Rainbow trout are released into lakes to help protect wild anadromous fishes.

Can I still teach about anadromous life cycles if I hatch rainbow trout?

Absolutely. Students can compare and contrast life cycles and stages of various fishes. CDFW has extensive materials available all correlated to NGSS and Common Core. Two workshop are being offered to help teachers make the transistion. The first will be held in San Jose on January 9, 2016.  Jose on January 9 and a second session will be offered on January 13 in Santa Cruzworkshop to help teachers make this transition is being offered on January 9, 2016

Have other teachers successfully hatched rainbow trout?

Rainbow trout are the most widely hatched fish in classroom aquariums. In 2015, over 350 classes in the Bay Area alone incubated these same eggs with great success.

Have other teachers made this switch?

In 2014, teachers in Sonoma County faced a similar issue and were also offered rainbow trout as an alternative. Almost all of the teachers in that program opted to hatch rainbow trout and had a very successful year. They taught many of the same lessons and felt it was a success. Many of those teachers inquired about continuing with rainbow trout in the future.

What is best for the students?

This is a decision for you, the classroom teacher, to make. CDFW sees the value of students hatching fish in classroom aquariums, regardless of whether they are rainbow trout, steelhead trout, salmon, or other species. For students lucky enough to have a teacher certified to hatch fish under this program, the opportunity may come just once in their school career. We hate to see them miss it but, again, the decision is yours.

STEP provided excellent teacher support including assistance with permits, delivery of eggs, and help with tank operation – will this continue to be offered?

STEP did provide excellent support to teachers hatching steelhead. To date, STEP is taking a position they will provide little, if any, support. We will continue to keep the door open in hopes of their continued teacher support.

In the meantime, CDFW is working with other local organizations to fill the gap. While we cannot provide the same level of support, we will:

  • Continue to permit qualified teachers
  • Provide egg deliver to teachers at multiple sites in Santa Cruz and Santa Clara Counties
  • Provide phone and email support for tank operation
  • Continue to work to locate a new sponsor who can provide in-class support (we are working with an organization at this time and hope to bring them online on board as local partners next season)
  • Provide curriculum and other materials to teachers at no cost
  • Offer a workshop in January 2016 to help with the transition

I understand other teachers in California are allowed to hatch steelhead – why can’t we use the same egg source as they do?

Teachers in Sonoma and Mendocino County are using steelhead eggs taken from fish in the Russian River system. To maintain the genetic integrity of the species, the fry are required to be released into the same watershed – much as the STEP fry were released into the San Lorenzo system. There simply is not a supply of steelhead eggs for the San Lorenzo system at this time.

Will steelhead be available in the future?

San Lorenzo steelhead is a federally listed species and due to conditions described above it is doubtful these will be available for classroom incubation in the future. The Classroom Aquarium Education program (of which STEP is a part) is an educational process and not a restoration program. Should the population reach the point where the Federal government de-lists the fish, then it is possible they could again be incubated in classrooms.

Is it true that releasing steelhead helps rebuild the population while releasing rainbow trout just provides food for predators or fish to be caught by anglers? Fisheries biologists maintain that almost every fish released as a part of the classroom incubation program will become food for a predator regardless of whether you release salmon, steelhead or rainbow trout. The process of hatching and releasing fish in classrooms is an educational program and not intended to supplement fish stocking or restoration efforts.

The value of raising fish in the classroom has more to do with what happens in the minds and hearts of the student than in the lake or river where the fish are released. Clearly, students want to believe the fry they’ve hatched will survive to a valuable ‘fish life’ whatever that may be. As such, there is no need to impress upon them the tenets of the first sentence here.

Why can’t I release the fish in the same place I did in previous years?

These fish are of a different genetic strain than the fish used in the past and may only be released into lakes that have been evaluated by fisheries biologists as appropriate for these fish. All releases of fish are carefully monitored by State and Federal agencies to ensure that no impacts to any other listed species can occur as a result. For many teachers, especially those in Santa Clara County, the release sites for rainbow trout will be easier to access as the release sites are closer to the school and to where students live.

Why do I have to pick up the eggs instead of having them delivered to my classroom?

Volunteers from the STEP program have provided the egg delivery service to your classroom for many years. In the past, they have opted to not assist teachers hatching rainbow trout. CDFW is working with several other organizations to provide as much support to teachers as possible.

Can someone else pick up my eggs for me?

Absolutely. You may have a co-teacher, parent, spouse or friend pick up the eggs. They will need to arrive and tell the staff who they are picking up for.

What do I need to do at this time?

You will receive an email survey asking if you want to participate in the program this year and hatch rainbow trout. Simply fill out the survey and if you opt to continue in the program, we will send you further information and instructions.

If you are also welcome to complete the 772 application and submit it directly to CDFW.

What if I choose to not hatch fish this year – will I be able to re-join the program in the future?

Yes. However, teachers once-trained who do not hatch fish for 3 consecutive years are required to attend a training workshop to be re-certified. This is generally a one day workshop at a low cost.

Do you have more questions? Send them to

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Student Poetry

Writing poetry  allows students to express their connection to the world in a fun and creative manner. For many, it is a way to share thoughts and feelings they may not be able to express otherwise.

Here is a one page document on how to write beautiful poems with your students.


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Fortunate or Unfortunate?

Fortunate or Unfortunate? challenges students to see the advantages and disadvantages of various changes in trout habitat. And it further challenges students to organize 10 parts of this story into an order that makes sense. In other words, it involves the exact type of thinking and reasoning skills the Next Generation Science Standards were designed to promote.

Some student groups may come up with different storylines than others, and they can discuss their differences and make any necessary adjustments in story or attitude. Activities are rare that include such a large variety of skills. They don’t get much better than this.

The activity can be preceded by or reinforced with the Return to the Redd and Race to the Redd board “games.”  All three educational activities illustrate the similarity of challenges trout face whether in streams or oceans. Wrap-up discussion can include comparisons to challenges humans face and how we can deal with them successfully.

Fortunate or unfortunate

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