SALMON IN THE CLASSROOM- A Fund Raising Picnic in September

On Sunday, September 20 San Juan Nature Institute will hold a fund-raising picnic for their Salmon in the Classroom program at Orcas Elementary School. Jim and Kathy Youngren have graciously allowed us to use their beautiful grounds for a barbecue and Mike O’Connell of Long Live the Kings, at the Glenwood Hatchery will lead tours of the hatchery.

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Releasing the fingerlings

Did you know that the Orcas Elementary School raises about 100 salmon fingerlings each year and releases them at Long Live the Kings? This program is spearheaded by San Juan Nature Institute who provides aquarium management and a series of classroom experiences about salmon life including an experiment to demonstrate the influence on temperature on dissolved oxygen. Funding for the program comes from donations received especially at the Salmon Picnic at Glenwood Springs in September.

The program starts with the delivery of ‘eyed up’ eggs by Mike O’Connell of the Glenwood Springs Hatchery just before Thanksgiving. The aquarium is ready, cooled to the right temperature, and the students are keen to see their new ‘babies’. From then on, the eggs are watched with bated breath and notices around the aquarium remind students to treat this nursery with respect for the new salmon ‘parents’ are indeed proud of their responsibility.

The Nature Institute arrives once a week until the December Holidays and early in the New Year with demonstrations, activities and eco-games to introduce the class, this year it will be the 3rd Grade, to salmon morphology, life style, threats and challenges. One popular lesson is the dissection by Marine Educator Noreene Ignelzi, another is the Dissolved Oxygen Experiment. Here feeder goldfish stand in for the salmon and the challenge is to count the number of gulps the fish take while in water of different temperatures. This is a great photo-opportunity and is often the first time students have taken part in a science experiment.

The eggs usually hatch before the holiday break if all goes well and the new alevin grow steadily. Conditions in the tank are monitored and once feeding starts, this is even more important. Just before the Spring Break, the fingerlings are taken to their new home at the Hatchery and are released into the cool clear stream the feeds the main pool which will be their home for the next year. Mike makes sure that every child has a chance to introduce a fingerling to the stream (another great photo-opportunity) and accompanying parents join in the fun too.

Excitement at the release
Excitement at the release

This year our picnic is on Sunday September 20 at the home of Jim and Kathy Youngren, 1649 Olga Road. We meet at 3: 30 in the afternoon, walk down to the shore to see the incoming salmon, visit the hatchery and then enjoy a barbecue of salmon and sausages salad and ice cream. Tickets are $25 per person or $40 for a couple, $10 per child. Third graders are free! There will also be a sample of one of the activities used in the program.

SJNI is very grateful to the Youngrens for their generosity in allowing us to hold this fund-raiser on their property. If the weather is wet, they allow us the use of their barn so do come, rain or shine we will have fun introducing you to the program Salmon in the Classroom.

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