We are pleased to announce the first place winner of our Earth Day Contest, Dolly Greene from the Siuslaw Elementary School in Florence Oregon. Using Salmon Stream, Ms. Greene and her class have been able to become “stewards of the environment and help increase the salmon population.”
A special thanks goes to:
1. Mr. Jim Grano, Retired Siuslaw Middle School Science Teacher, Program Developer and Grant Writer
2. Bureau of Land Management, Eugene, Oregon District
3. Day of Discovery Leaders
Florence Salmon-Trout Enhancement Program (STEP)
Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife
U.S. Forest Service
Siuslaw Watershed Council
Stream Team Student Teachers
4. Funding via Grants
Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board
Florence Rotary and Kiwanis Clubs
Florence Parent Teacher Association
5. Siuslaw Elementary School Parent Volunteers
Whittaker Creek Watchable Wildlife Site provides key habitat vital to the conservation of salmon and other fish species. Whittaker Creek is part of the Siuslaw River Watershed that drains from the Coast Range into the Pacific Ocean.
The book, Salmon Stream by Carol Reed-Jones has been of great value in our salmon study program at Siuslaw Elementary School in Florence, Oregon. The rich, poetic language in Salmon Stream excited all of the students; and the vocabulary repetition helped struggling readers to enjoy the text. The story of the salmon life cycle told in Salmon Stream, brought the story of this incredible animal to life for the children. The illustrations are visually appealing and helped the children appreciate the habitat of the salmon and their difficult journey upstream to reproduce. The resource information provided in the back of the book was an excellent documentation of facts about salmon which I was able to read aloud to the students and engage them in a discussion about salmon preservation.
After reading Salmon Stream, by Carol Reed-Jones, the students were prepared to enter the world of outdoor science, exploring nature first hand on field trips to salmon habitats and raising their own baby salmon from eggs in classroom aquariums. The students were prepared to become stewards of the environment and help increase the salmon population.
It is a unique experience to see the joy in students’ eyes as they learn about science first hand in outdoor settings. The appreciation that the students gain of nature goes a long way in helping them to establish life long values involving protection of the fragile environment on our planet. Helping students along the pathway towards becoming stewards of the environment is a goal that is not only honorable, but essential in this time period of history. Introducing our salmon study program with the book Salmon Stream, prepared the students to begin their journey in learning about preservation of the fragile habitat of salmon.
As teachers, we use an experiential approach in our salmon study program, taking the students on outdoor field trips to salmon habitats in the area. We use a cross grade level peer tutoring approach that is very successful, allowing middle school and high school students to make presentations to elementary students. Following reading the book, Salmon Stream, we took field trips to Whittaker Creek and Honeyman State Park which involved cross grade level peer tutoring approach and cooperative effort of inter-agency employees, all with a common goal, to teach children about our environment.
I submit a sample of student writing that followed the Whittaker Creek field trip.
Riparian Trail Hike:
“First we went on the Riparian trail hike. On the hike we examined the natural elements of nature and figured out what they are and things like ways to estimate how old trees are and how to tell healthy trees from bad trees.”
“At the riparian trail we learned that trees are good for salmon for shelter and food. The trees drop the leaves. The bugs eat the leaves. Salmon eat the bugs. The trail was very fun.”
Fish Dissection Station:
“Here at the fish dissection station you learn things like salmon only has a three chamber heart and can have up to three hundred to four thousand eggs. Also steelhead have two egg sacks and that their kidney changes when they go to the ocean.”
“At the fish dissection, I learned that the swim bladder helps them float. I also learned that we have more blood. I learned they have two egg sacks, each one has 3,000 – 4,000 eggs in them. I also learned that they have a three chamber heart. It is cold blooded.”
“ At the fish trap, I got to touch two salmon. I got to see them get the eggs and milt out. The fish trap was fun.”
“At the steelhead trap there’s egg processing and milt processing. We smelled salt. We touched eggs and milt. We heard splashes and nets and boots splashing.”
Water Quality Testing
“Now we’re at water quality. Here we learned about air temperature and water temperature and p.h. The best for salmon is 11 for color 53 air temperature, and forty three water temperature.”
“Salmon need cold water. The salmon need 7.1 p.h. the water temperature was 44 degrees. The air temperature was 48 degrees. Excellent water quality. It was very fun.”
“In this area I caught a fish egg. I saw stonefly and mayfly. I caught a baby fish. I saw lots of bugs and insects. The bugs were prehistoric. It was my favorite group.”
“We caught many insects and learned that their adult lives are only a few hours long.”
The learning that takes place through these programs is readily apparent. Likewise, the learning stations at Honeyman State Park field trip with the theme “Forest Community” are wonderful learning experiences for children who will someday be stewards of our environment. Learning about pond critters, dunes, slugs, bats, osprey and trees in the setting of our local State Park is directly in line with the goals we have for lifelong learning at Siuslaw Elementary School in Florence, Oregon
I cannot say enough about how the book Salmon Stream by Carol Reed-Jones prepared the children to raise steelhead in the classroom. Watching the eggs develop through the stages of growth is truly amazing not only for the children, but for the teachers. The illustrations in Salmon Stream allowed us to envision what salmon look like in various stages of development, and what their natural habitat looks like before we began the process of creating an environment in our classroom aquarium for more than 150 salmon eggs to develop. The book prepared the children for the mortality of some of the eggs in the discussion of predators.
Personally, the children and I became so attached to the baby steelhead that we had a hard time saying goodbye to them as we set them off into the wide world of nature. We were proud that we had helped to increase the population of salmon. The amazement of having raised a living fish from egg was captivating for us all. In conclusion, below are a few letters the children wrote to their baby steelhead before releasing them into the wild again, from whence they came.
“Dear Sean the Steelhead, I feel sad that you have to leave, but I am proud of raising steelhead eggs. I will miss you.”
“Dear Great Steelhead, I am happy that you are growing up, but I am really sad that you are leaving to the stream. I know it’s right for you. I will really miss you.”
“Dear Billy Bob Steelhead, I want you to know that I am happy to see you go. You will be good for the ocean and river. I learned how long it takes to hatch an egg. Goodbye Billy Bob. I’ll miss you.”
From this experience and reading the book Salmon Stream, the children and I were inspired to create an ocean/salmon dance which we presented to other students in the school. The students learned that the earth is to be shared by all the creatures, and that they can be stewards of the environment. We celebrate this on Earth Day!