La 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). 

Photo - Two ‘fish scientists” from Joseph Elementary 4th grade class responsible for raising steelhead trout (from eggs to fry) in their classroom incubator, 2006 (USFWS).
Photo - Joseph Elementary students release their classroom incubated steelhead fry at Marr Pond, Enterprise, Oregon, 2006 (USFWS).

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 Annual Wallowa County Watershed Festival will take place June 27, 2014 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. For more information, click here.

Past Participants Included:
Salmon Early Life History Research Group
Wallowa County Search and Rescue Dog Demonstrations
US Fish and Wildlife Service
Blue Mountain Wildlife
Future Farmers of America, Joseph Chapter
US Forest Service
Wallowa County Weed Control
Wallowa Resources
Wallowa Valley Music Alliance
Grande Ronde Model Watershed
International Center for the Advancement of Pastoral Systems
Nez Perce Tribe Fisheries
Oregon Dept of Fish & Wildlife
Oregon State Parks
Roping Demonstrations: Sheriff Fred Steen
Soil & Water Conservation District

Photo - USFWS booth at Wallowa County Watershed Festival showcasing wildlife skulls, tracks and scat for young and old to identify, 2007 (USFWS).
Photo - Riparian stream simulator, Service and Forest Service combined booth at the Wallowa County Watershed Festival, 2005 (USFWS).


International Migratory Bird Day.  The Annual Ladd Marsh Birdathon takes place in May at Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Ladd Marsh Wildlife Area, located 6 miles south of La Grande, Oregon. The Birdathon took place this year on May 16-18.

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).

To view the 2014 event, click here.

Image - Ladd Marsh Birdathon logo.

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)! 

Photo - Enterprise fourth graders enjoying the hands-on dissection portion of the program in the classroom (Courtesy of Katie Zollman).Photo - Enterprise sixth grade class after the classroom portion of the dissection program (Courtesy of Colby Knifong).

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.

Photo - "Nice catch!" (USFWS)
Photo - Kids learn about macro-invertebrates (cool bugs found in streams and lakes) (USFWS).
Photo - Fish painting is fun! (USFWS)

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.

Photo - "Is it a keeper?" (USFWS)

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