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Hatching a Plan for Salmon Stewardship
Tiny eggs make a big impact
On a gray, drizzly morning at the end of October, a small fleet of volunteers departed the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife’s (ODFW) forested campus. Each carried a cooler with hundreds of precious passengers: Chinook salmon eggs, tenderly wrapped in moist towels, destined to delight students across Portland.
It was Egg Delivery Day — a fall event that volunteers and students alike look forward to all year. Our Fish Eggs to Fry volunteers, with different backgrounds, professions, and ages, came together on October 25th united by a single purpose: spreading passion for salmon conservation.
Fish Eggs to Fry, an educational program of ODFW, brings salmon and trout eggs to 700+ Oregon classrooms each year. In the Portland area alone, nearly 150 classrooms participated this fall — more so than ever before in the program’s 20+ year history. The National Wildlife Federation and the Association of Northwest Steelheaders partner with ODFW to coordinate volunteers to deliver eggs and provide training and educational resources from the Eco-Schools USA Salmon Stewards program — funded by the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde for the last several years through the Spirit Mountain Community Fund.
By participating in salmon development in the classroom, students gain an early appreciation for one of our state’s most significant keystone species. Students and educators attend to the needs of salmon eggs as they hatch into alevin, before releasing them into local waterways at the fry stage. In the process, students of all grade levels transform into scientists in their own classroom laboratories, performing water quality tests to ensure the health and wellbeing of the salmon.
Educators integrate the program into classroom curriculum in a myriad of ways, teaching students about human impacts on salmon habitat, cultural significance of the species for Native and Indigenous Peoples, and the love and empathy we grow through creating art about wildlife.
Volunteers underpin the program’s success, setting up aquarium equipment, delivering eggs to schools, and providing classroom presentations and field trip assistance. On Fall 2022 Egg Delivery Day, 28 volunteers delivered 18,000 eggs to 90 schools across the Portland area and beyond, impacting the lives of some 7,000 students.
Volunteers represented ODFW, the Tualatin Valley Chapter of the NW Steelheaders, the Sandy River Chapter of NW Steelheaders, Get Hooked Foundation, Fishers of Men, Clackamas River Trout Unlimited, and Confluence Environmental Center. “Bringing the next generation of salmon to the next generation of stewards was very rewarding,” said volunteer Steve Herff on Egg Delivery Day. “Seeing how the next generation can take the reins and carry us to a better tomorrow was inspiring.”
We are grateful to these partners, our volunteers, and to the salmon and trout themselves who make Fish Eggs to Fry possible. By allowing students to develop a personal relationship with these species through a hands-on learning experience, we can spark a lifelong commitment to wildlife conservation in the next generation. In the words of Baba Dioum, “In the end, we will conserve only what we love; we will love only what we understand, and we will understand only what we are taught.”
Check out @NWFOregon’s Facebook page for more photos from Egg Delivery Day!