Students at 39 schools across Clark County raised salmon from eggs to full grown fish throughout this school year, witnessing their life cycle in the classroom. Salmon in the Classroom is a program that allows students to engage in project-based learning about salmon life cycle, biology, and habitat.

Students prepare to release their classroom-raised coho salmon into the wild

“This program allows students to get up close and personal with the amazing life history and cultural significance of salmon in the Pacific Northwest. Salmon are keystone species in this area and are facing many different threats in the wild, from natural ones to human caused,” said Melissa Topping, Salmon in the Classroom Coordinator at Columbia Springs. “Plus, they grow a real attachment to their salmon and it’s really special to be able to release their fish at the end of the year and send them off on their journey.”

In the spring, salmon are large enough to begin hunting in a stream ecosystem. Approximately 7,000 classroom coho salmon are released into the wild in Clark County during the month of May. Coho salmon spend about a year in freshwater streams like Salmon Creek before migrating to the ocean.

“My hope is that students will feel a sense of ownership over their research, problem solving, and teamwork within their community, and ultimately recognize the difference they can make,” said Morgan Beaty, teacher at Hockinson Heights Elementary School.

In May, it was finally time for local students to release their classroom-raised coho salmon into the wild at Salmon Creek Park. Beaty, a participant in the Salmon in the Classroom program, released their salmon into the wild with her 4th grade class on May 17.

Salmon in the Classroom is a partnership program with Columbia Springs in Vancouver, Washington, with funding from Clark Public Utilities.