News Release

March 10, 2014

Urban Classrooms Experience Nature & Salmon Science in the Gorge

Media Contacts:
Amanda Fortin: (971) 970-8725

Urban Classrooms Experience Nature & Salmon Science in the Gorge
Portland Public Schools Students Say Good-bye to Fish, Hello to Student Science


Hundreds of North Portland students will travel to the Columbia River Gorge and to bid good-bye to the hundreds of Chinook salmon fry they have spent the last three months raising. While the release is only the beginning of a long journey for the fish, it is the culmination of the students’ participation in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s three-month ‘Salmon in the Classroom’ program.

Thanks to the success of last year’s pilot Salmon in the Classroom program at Boise-Eliot/Humboldt Elementary School in Northeast Portland, which brought the agency’s curriculum to an urban setting for the first time, this year’s program was expanded to include fourth graders at Chief Joseph/Ockley Green Elementary School.

Developed in coordination with Portland Public Schools, the Portland Black Parent Initiative, The Urban League, The Oregon Youth Development Council, and the Service, the Salmon in the Classroom project uses salmon-themed natural resource lessons to educate elementary school students

What began with hatching salmon eggs in a classroom aquarium quickly became an engrossing way for the students to learn about the nuances of the salmon life cycle, the details of fish anatomy, and the larger importance of healthy ecosystems. The Service’s focus on landscape level conservation fits well with the holistic Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math (STEAM) program taught at Portland Public Schools.

From the creative ‘Fashion a Fish’ project to the hands-on fish dissection, students were able to integrate salmon into each of their subjects and learn about how caring for their watershed can help salmon, the estimated 137 species that depend on them, and, of course, people.

“We want to foster environmental stewardship by connecting people of all ages with nature,” said Julie Collins, Acting Assistant Regional Director-Fishery Resources. “Salmon in the Classroom is a wonderful opportunity to both bring nature directly into the classroom and let students visit a National Fish Hatchery. It’s a great way to inspire our next generations of scientists to take care of our next generation of fish.”

The student scientists at Boise-Eliot/Humboldt Elementary have been blogging about their Salmon in the Classroom experience this year. Follow their journey: http://behsalmon.blogspot.com/

Visit our Salmon in the Classroom Flickr gallery: http://bit.ly/1ouNDFF