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Got Salmon Eggs?
“The eggs are here,” a third grader whispers excitedly to his friend as they walk into the classroom. The buzz travels throughout the classroom and stops as the teacher brings me in. Their eyes are glued waiting for me to open the cooler so they can get their first glimpse of the new class project. This feeling is what keeps volunteers from the Association of Northwest Steelheaders (ANWS) coming back time and time again to deliver salmon eggs to classrooms full of eager children.
Fish Eggs to Fry is an Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) program that brings salmon and trout eggs into classrooms. To engage as many schools and students as possible, ANWS, National Wildlife Federation’s (NWF) Oregon affiliate, has volunteered their time over the past two decades to deliver eggs to teachers who aren’t able to pick them up. Not only do they help with egg delivery, but they band together again when the fry are buttoned-up and ready to be released into the wild.
Before the eggs are unveiled, I talk to the students about the unique life cycle they are going to witness and how healthy water is super important to these eggs in order to survive. I explained to the teacher how NWF has a framework that the next generation of environmental stewards can opt to use in their school, a program called Eco-Schools USA via the Watersheds, Oceans, and Wetlands (WOW) pathway. Why not get credit for the work the class is doing while learning about the watershed and how human actions effect wildlife? The Fish Eggs to Fry Audit and Action Plan aligned with the WOW pathway guides the class when engaging in water quality monitoring, stewardship activities, classroom presentations, and outdoor field experiences.
As I reveal the eggs, I walk around so each student has a moment to see them before they are placed in the tank. After questions, the eggs are ready to be gently dropped in their new home for the next two months. Ooohs and ahhs fill the air as they watch the eggs drop to the bottom signaling the end of my time at this school. The students will become salmon stewards by caring for these eggs until they are ready to be released into local waterways.