The intricate salmon cycle of life never ceases to amaze and inspire me. It never grows old or irrelevant. Inside the Salmon Center we now have a display tank of newly hatched chum salmon. This tank is physical testimony of the expansion of our Salmon in the Classroom program and a culmination of the hard work and efforts of HCSEG staff to bring this hands-on learning opportunity to 11 local schools and beyond. Now homeschoolers and visitors can share in the experience of the early life cycle of salmon. As I reflect on the past year and all we have achieved, this tank manifests the essence of our work in Hood Canal.
It never grows old or irrelevant.
Salmon in the Classroom
The eggs placed in this tank are the future, each one full of potential and vitality, representing a healthy adult salmon returning to spawn. Our projects and research are born of ideas to restore critical habitat and discover ways to increase salmon populations. Each goal is full of potential and positive results. Our mission statement mirrors that hope for a future where salmon and people co-exist for all generations.
As I write all the eggs in this tank have hatched, yet one can look at the bubbling water and see no evidence of movement. The young alevin are hiding in the gravel for safety. Likewise, many of our projects take time to show results. Much work goes on behind the scenes. We are “down in the gravel” to gather data, write grant applications, network with state and federal organizations, talk with landowners, collect feedback, check fish traps and teach students. The final goal is there hidden in the daily details. Proven progress comes through patient perseverance.
HCSEG staff and volunteers installing a fish trap.
Once the yolk sack is consumed, the young fry have to enter the waters and struggle against relentless currents to fight for their existence. We constantly fighting for them as well. Our work is a never ending cycle: careful documentation of expenditures, leading volunteers, educating at events, sharing our message and mission, in order to make a difference in our watershed. But every tree planted, every smolt DNA collected, every fry counted, every student and community member educated, every culvert replaced, and every stream surveyed is a piece of the larger puzzle and will help us understand and protect this important species.
Every tree planted.. is a piece of the larger puzzle..
Volunteers planting trees to restore salmon habitat.
The salmon in this tank are nurtured, protected, and celebrated. Our threefold mission of restoration, research, and education strives to do that for salmon in the real world. When these fry reach 1.5 inches long they will be released into their home stream. The broad smiles and the exclamations of delight from the students who hold a cup with that one wiggling fish in their hands, thinking of the marvelous journey this salmon will begin, and imagining their own lives in 3 to 5 years when these salmon return, are a satisfying reward for our work. How vital for students to develop this relationship with our natural world and learn how their actions and choices can affect the outcome of this little salmon’s life. We are nurturing the next generation of environmental stewards as well as young salmon.
This energy and enthusiasm produced from the interaction of students, our staff, and salmon is contagious and renews my daily efforts to work on their behalf. I am honored to be part of this process along with our dedicated staff, board members, members, volunteers and supporters.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank all you for the countless hours devoted to this purpose. Thank you for sharing our goal with us.