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Alta Vista: Rivers and Birds Field Trip

On May 9, 10, and 11, the third-, fourth-, and fifth-graders from Alta Vista Elementary and Intermediate School went on a field trip to the Red River Fish Hatchery, sponsored by the non-profit educational group, Rivers and Birds. (Their mission is to advocate for conservation of our public lands and provide experiential environmental education that celebrates the interconnection of all life, inspiring individuals to be leaders for Earth stewardship and peace.)

I went along with Feliz Ortega’s third-grade class. The bus was met at the Red River Fish Hatchery by Roberta Salazar and Rebecca Porter, instructors with Rivers and Birds.

The students received a wonderful tour by Fish Culturist Jake Kraybill of the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish’s Red River State Trout Hatchery. The students were instructed on how the fish are cared for and fed. We were told that our hatchery provides about half of the fish for the entire state of New Mexico. The students witnessed employees loading up a transport truck with fish. It was exciting to watch them load the truck with nets and it was fun watching the fish flipping in and out! Their jobs are mind-boggling—we never realized how much work goes into raising so many fish. We thank them for their commitment.

After spending over two hours at the hatchery, we boarded the bus again and headed to Wild Rivers Zimmerman Visitor Center. Rivers and Birds instructor Roberta Salazar explained to the students that they were going to learn to become stewards of the earth.

There were seven points that they needed to learn throughout the day as they hiked and ate their lunch.


Step 1: Know before you go! Have the right supplies before you hike, to be safe, and tell others where you are going and when you will return.
Step 2: Stay on the trail! Using the trail helps reduce erosion and keeps the trails maintained and easy to find in case you get lost.
Step 3: Leave what is there! Leaves, rocks, flowers, and artifacts belong where they are. They belong to the earth and the earth belongs to everyone.
Step 4: Pack it in/Pack it out! Do not leave trash behind and if you find trash—pick it up and dispose of it properly.
Step 5: Respect yourself! Look at wildlife from a distance. Animals want to be left alone. Never feed wildlife, as it can make them sick and change their natural behavior.
Step 6: Be kind to others! Avoid loud noises, be respectful and courteous to other visitors.
Step 7: Be Careful with fire! Make fires only inside a fire ring, if there are no other restrictions. Put fires “dead out” by stirring in dirt and water.

Each student received a Stewards of the Earth book and badge. Thank you, Roberta and Rebecca, we had a great field trip.

But wait, there was more! We met representatives from the Santa Fe Raptor Center. They showed a Turkey Vulture to the students and gave background information about them. They also brought a small Burrow Owl. It was very interesting, and the students had a lot of questions. Thank you, Santa Fe Raptor Center, for a great presentation on the animals. And thank you, Rivers and Birds, Red River Fish Hatchery, New Mexico Game and Fish, and Wild Rivers Visitor Center, we had a great time! I was so impressed!