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Betta is Better: CTE Classes Spark Passion in Green Canyon Students

Andy Chaparro

Cache County School District’s Career and Technical Education (CTE) classes are preparing students for future careers by sparking curiosity, igniting passion, and giving real-life experiences to students while they are still in high school. At Green Canyon High School, educators are thinking outside the box to provide students with unique opportunities to cultivate their individual interests. These hands-on experiences teach students principles that will benefit them throughout the rest of their lives.

For the second year in a row, Green Canyon CTE educator Andy Chaparro is pairing each student in his agricultural education classroom with a betta fish. Having graduated in Agricultural Education from Utah State University, Chaparro is passionate about finding ways to teach his students the value of caring for livestock. Because a classroom is not big enough for each student to tend to individual large animals, Chaparro’s idea was to apply the same principles on a smaller and more manageable scale. Each student is assigned their own betta fish and is given responsibility for that fish throughout the trimester. The students care for their fish by feeding it, keeping its individual tank clean, and monitoring it on a daily basis. As the fish reach maturity, students are taught how the breeding process works and pair fish together for further learning.

This project, which Chaparro named “Bettas in the Classroom,” received the Utah Association of Agriculture Educators Ideas Unlimited Award because of its success in teaching students the value and responsibility in caring for animals. The proof of its impact can be seen in the students who participate in the program.

Ella, a sophomore at Green Canyon High School and one of Chaparro’s students, says the “Bettas in the Classroom” project helped her to develop an interest in raising betta fish.  She even invested in five of her own personal fish that she keeps at home. After learning about genetically modifying and selective breeding in class, Ella set a goal for herself to learn how to breed glow-in-the-dark betta fish. Ella’s passion for the “Betta’s in the Classroom” project reflects Chaparro’s philosophy when it comes to teaching his students: “You dream big, and we’re going to help you get there.” Because of this philosophy, perhaps one day Ella’s glow-in-the-dark bettas will be sold at the local pet store.

Chaparro sees great futures not only for his students but for this generation of young people. “I stand as an advocate for the rising generation,” he said. “I have worked closely with these students and I have found them to be incredibly intuitive and passionate.” With CTE educators like Andy Chaparro giving students the education and resources to feed their interests and develop their passions, graduates from Cache County School District will continue to be a valuable asset to our community’s workforce.