Grande Field Office Northeast Oregon Education & Outreach Programs
Programs and Events Available to
the Local Community
We collaborate with other partners to conduct outreach and education programs
and make them available to the local community. Listed here are some
of the events in which we participate. For more information on these
events, you may click on any of the following links.
Fish Eggs to Fry. Each year, fourth grade students at Joseph Elementary School, fifth grade at Wallowa Middle School, and sixth grade students at Enterprise Middle School raise steelhead trout in their classrooms, from eggs to alevin to fry. This salmonid life cycle program is an annual cooperative program, ongoing since 1991 in Wallowa County. The program at each school includes a classroom incubator, videos, salmon life cycle presentation, games, and other instructional materials. Students get to perform a real dissection of steelhead trout, a hands-on activity that teaches them about external and internal fish anatomy, fish structures and their functions, and helps them understand the similarities and differences between fish and humans.
In April, the Fish and Wildlife Service’s La Grande Field Office (FWS), along with Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW), the Forest Service, and Wallowa County schools, assists the schools in setting up an aquarium in their classrooms. Approximately 400 steelhead eggs (donated by the ODFW Wallowa Fish Hatchery) are placed in each classroom aquarium. The aquariums serve as incubators that contain stream gravel and clean, cold circulating water.
In May, after the fish have developed into fry, they are released by the students, teachers, a few parents, and the FWS into Marr Pond (for the Joseph and Enterprise schools), and Weaver Pond (for the Wallowa school).
Students involved in this project serve as “fish scientists,” (i.e., they monitor the fish eggs, alevin, and fry and record water temperatures, and make other observations). In so doing, the students learn what salmonids need to survive: clean and cold water, oxygen, clean gravel, food and protection from predators. The number of fry that survive from egg to fry is estimated to be at least 95% (380 fish out of 400 total). That amount is much higher than the estimate for steelhead in the wild; only about 10% of the eggs laid by a wild female survive to become fry (which for the classroom incubator would have been only 40 fish).
Macro-invertebrate Education. In 2006, the Fish and Wildlife Service’s La Grande Field Office and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, in cooperation with the Forest Service, Wallowa Resources, and the Nez Perce Tribe, provided a presentation, “Aquatic Bugs”, to 5th and 6th grade classes at Joseph Middle School. The aquatic bug program was implemented to give the students a hands-on experience for learning about local freshwater aquatic animals as part of their science lesson on vertebrates (animals with backbones) and invertebrates (animals without backbones).
The hands-on learning included an introduction to macro-invertebrates. The students learned: > only 3 percent of known animal species are vertebrates and 97 percent are invertebrates; > the role of macro-invertebrates in the ecosystem (part of the food chain, indicators of stream health, part of biodiversity); > identification and observation of these critters (both live and preserved); > survey gear biologists use to study for these aquatic animals; > which macroinvertebrates can tolerate or not tolerate pollution (e.g., stoneflies are indicators of clean water and midges are indicators of polluted water).
The presentation concluded with a game of tag in which some students represented tolerant or intolerant aquatic macro-invertebrates and other students represented pollution. The game is designed to portray what happens to the diversity of aquatic bugs when streams become polluted: the pollution-tolerant species increase and biodiversity decreases.
Wallowa County Watershed Festival. The Fifth Annual Wallowa County Watershed Festival will take place June 26, 2009 at the Wallowa County Fairgrounds in Enterprise, Oregon. In celebration of the region's abundant natural and cultural resources, the festival is a culmination of outreach programs held throughout the year. Wallowa Resources hosts the event and it is co-sponsored by Wallowa Valley Music Alliance and the Wallowa County Fair Board.
Visitors are treated to live local music and free, grass-fed beef hamburgers donated by local ranchers. All ages enjoy hands-on education booths where they can build a bird-house, watch stock dog demonstrations, see live raptors, learn about salmon habitat, win prizes, and much more.
International Migratory Bird Day. The Fourth Annual Ladd Marsh Birdathon will take place May 8 - 10, 2009 at Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Ladd Marsh Wildlife Area, located 6 miles south of La Grande, Oregon.
Commemorating International Migratory Bird Day, the event is scheduled at the peak of spring migration and nesting season in the Grande Ronde Valley. Few places, if any, in Union County have a more diverse bird population than Ladd Marsh Wildlife Area. Over 200 species of birds either visit or live permanently at Ladd Marsh.
Note: ONLY ON THIS WEEKEND will birders have the opportunity to explore areas of the wildlife area generally closed to the public, providing increased opportunities to see an abundance of ducks, geese, swans, raptors, shore birds, and passerines (perching birds).
Steelhead Fish Dissection in the Classroom. The USFWS is actively involved in helping 4th to 6th grade classes at Wallowa County Public schools dissect steelhead. This wonderful hands-on activity is conducted by the USFWS in partnership with ODFW, Nez Perce Tribe, and Wallowa County schools. The adult steelhead carcasses are provided by the ODFW fish hatchery in Enterprise, Oregon for the purpose of educating our youth. This project, very popular with the students, has been ongoing since 2007.
For some classes, the fish dissection activity is part of the Fish Eggs to Fry program. For other classes, who have had the Fish Eggs to Fry program previously in their elementary education, fish dissection is conducted as part of their science program.
The students are given informational handouts and then, with the help of biologists from the USFWS and other agencies, the class actively participates in dissecting the fish. Both the external and internal anatomy of the adult steelhead is explored by these "budding biologists!"
Some of the highlights of the experience include: dissecting the eye, determining whether the fish is female with eggs or a male with sperm (these fish were taken from the hatchery where the steelhead are ripe to be artificially spawned), and exploring stomach contents. Sometimes there are some interesting things found in the stomach of the fish such as Styrofoam (not the best food source)!
Free Fishing Day. Free Youth Fishing Clinics
are held throughout northeast Oregon counties in celebration of National
Fishing Week. The
Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) allows free fishing
(no licenses required) throughout Oregon during this event. Clinic
sponsors include USDA Forest Service, ODFW, USFWS, Nez Perce Tribe, various
County merchants, and local volunteers.
Participants at the clinic learn new
fishing skills (including how to cast). Participants also learn
about aquatic life and habitat and create fish paintings. Prizes
are given away throughout the day. Extra fishing poles, tackle
and worms are be available on a first-come-basis.