MHS students at the Round Butte Hatchery in early February

Central Oregon is not short on opportunities working in the outdoors. Whether someone wants to spend their time studying different ecosystems, managing forests, working in outdoor recreation, or focus on the management of a kind of species in an area, our region has plenty to offer.  At Madras High School, we believe in providing our students with not just an education, but an experience that prepares them for the diverse career landscape awaiting them beyond graduation. One such avenue we are proud to offer is our Natural Resources Career and Technical Education (CTE) Program.

“One of our objectives is to expose our students in those classes to career opportunities that exist within those pathways,” Natural Resources Teacher Mike Dove said. “We start working on some of those jobs skills that they would need to have, if they were to pursue learning those careers.”

For example, take the fisheries and wildlife management class, Dove works with his students so they learn the skills or techniques that a fisheries or wildlife manager need to have to be successful in their role. This includes how to monitor population size, growth, habitat and more. 

The program takes a comprehensive approach. Students start off with an intro class that shows them a little bit of everything that would do throughout the program of study. 

CTE programs are all about hands-on experience for students. One opportunity students in the fisheries and wildlife management class just got to experience first-hand is going to the Round Butte Hatchery. From trapping hatchery fish to learning the entire process of fish propagation, our students actively participated in every stage, from start to finish.

“They work their way kind of through each station,” Dove said. “By the time it’s all done, all the technicians and the biologists down there are standing aside and all the kids are doing the entire process themselves and the techs are just there watching them. So, it’s really cool.”

The learning doesn’t stop when the field trip ends though. Our students take ownership by raising hatchery eggs right in their classroom. Thanks to the STEP program or, Salmon Trout Enhancement Program, they monitor growth rates, mortality rates, and gain firsthand experience by watching more than 200 of the eggs they helped fertilize at Round Butte Hatchery.

“We raise them to the fingerlings size and then we’ll take them out and turn them loose back into the wild back into the Deschutes River to do their thing, just like they would at a hatchery,” Dove said.

Another highlight of the Natural Resouces program is the Outdoor Recreation class, where students learn all about wilderness survival techniques, orienteering skills, hands-on fishing activities, and more. An exciting project the students are currently working on is learning how to tie flies for fly fishing, directly inspired by studying water bugs along the Deschutes River.

Over the years, Dove has seen countless students light up with realization as they realize all of the opportunities awaiting them within the natural resources industry. 

Madras High School aims to prepare the next generation of outdoor enthusiasts, biologists, and more for their career choice once they graduate. The Natural Resouces CTE Program aims to expose the students to the countless opportunities awaiting them, while preparing them with real-world skills learned right in the classroom. 

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