Salmon in the Classroom

Young students
Students test the water in a tank where tagged salmon are readied for release into the wild. Credit: Meghan Kearney/USFWS

Exploring environmental education through the eyes of student scientists

By Amanda Fortin, External Affairs, Pacific Region

In addition to improving, identifying and carrying out habitat enhancement, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is committed to working with partners and the public to promote stewardship of our natural resources. With that goal in mind, biologists at Spring Creek National Fish Hatchery in the Columbia Gorge developed the Salmon in the Classroom program.

Twenty years and 29 fish tanks later, this innovative cross-curricular program involves students in raising salmon from egg to fry stage in their classroom. USFWS biologists work with teachers to provide guidance at each stage of growth, lead activities that build an understanding of salmon’s importance, and foster greater environmental awareness.

For the first time, students in the Portland Public School system will have the opportunity to engage with Salmon in the Classroom. Thanks to the support of our partners in the Black Parent Initiative, Oregon Youth Development Council, and Portland Public Schools, USFWS is able to bring this program to the students at Boise-Eliot-Humboldt Elementary School in Northeast Portland, Oregon.

Using curriculum developed and implemented by the Spring Creek Information and Education Office, Salmon in the Classroom is designed to meet the new standards of education of our schools and ties environmental education objectives to the Grade Level Expectations in all subject areas.

On Thursday, January 3, staff from our Diversity & Civil Rights and Fisheries programs delivered about 150 salmon eggs to Boise-Eliot/Humboldt elementary school. Excited student scientists participated in discussion and asked questions about the life cycles of salmon which they will be able to observe firsthand over the next two and half months.

Next week, the students will learn about their watershed and how their activities make an impact on salmon and other species. A variety of activities are planned to integrate the lifecycle of salmon into lesson plans ranging from art to engineering until the students take their trip to Spring Creek National Fish Hatchery in March to release their salmon fry.

See more Salmon in the Classroom photos.

Learn more about educational opportunities through Spring Creek Education & Outreach Office.

Learn more about our partners:

The Black Parent Initiative

Oregon Youth Development Council

Portland Public Schools

Boise-Eliot/Humboldt Elementary School 



The Salmon in the Classroom was such a hit in our pilot urban school – Boise Elliot Humboldt – that the Service has expanded this year’s program to include both Boise Elliot/Humboldt and Chief Joseph – Ockley Green Elementary. The students have taken up blogging about their experience.



Last updated: May 5, 2014