Guest post by Annitra Peck
The Students for Salmon Program (SFS) engages 4th grade students in streamside science so they can better understand the health of their watershed and build stewardship ethics. Salmon, an icon of the Pacific Northwest culture, economy, and ecosystem, are used as a lens to inspire wonder in the natural world and catalyze an environmental ethic. SFS consists of two classroom presentations, and an outdoor
field trip where students bus or walk to a nearby salmon‐bearing stream and collect data to measure habitat quality and conduct a restoration project. This action component provides an opportunity to be part of the solution. Through SFS, NSEA is making a fundamental contribution to salmon recovery by educating the next generation of
landowners and decision makers in our community.
SFS has provided hands‐on science education to local youth since 1999. Through grants and donations, we are able to offer this program at no cost to participating schools. Each year, more than 1,600 students learn about watersheds, salmon and water quality with NSEA. This program is supported by a comprehensive Students for
Salmon Curriculum full of lessons and activities for teachers, promoting learning beyond the NSEA‐led components. NSEA works hard to ensure that SFS is available to youth from all around Whatcom County regardless of cultural or socio‐economic barriers. We work with schools from all seven school districts, and also with non‐traditional educational facilities including tribal and private schools and homeschool cooperatives. Plus, we have translated take home materials that are a part of SFS into Spanish to support ESL families.
Water quality data collected by students is uploaded to the EarthEcho Water Challenge database. This platform allows students the ability to see their real-world data, and view others. Extension lessons in the Students for Salmon Curriculum help teachers utilize the data further through graphing and analyzing activities.
Editor’s Note: We are grateful to have the Nooksack Salmon Enhancement Association as an EarthEcho Water Challenge partner and for their work to empower young leaders to monitor and restore their local waterways. Learn more about their work at: http://www.n-sea.org/.