Kennedy School’s Salmon All Grown Up and Set Free

Kennedy School’s Salmon All Grown Up and Set FreeJim Shaffer KELLER ad black

(Press Release, May 18, 2014)

Sixth graders from John F. Kennedy Elementary released their classroom’s hand raised Chinook salmon at 20140518salmonTALL10:00 a.m. on Wednesday May 7, 2014 on the shore of the Huron River at Huroc Park in Flat Rock, MI.

Mr. Williamson and his Ferndale Public School’s sixth graders had their first experience with Salmon in the Classroom this year.  After receiving 200 eggs in the fall, the students spent most of the school year learning about the salmon, its life cycle, and proper care as they grow.  “It was an incredible learning experience and exposed students to a wide range of factors that affect salmon.” Students monitored these factors daily: checking temperature, cleaning and changing water, feeding, sidebar012stairsrunning ammonia and ph level tests, and always recording data.

Parent coordinator Gretchen Abrams knew there would be some highs and lows during the process.  Seeing the eggs hatch was an incredible experience.  A tank leak during a holiday break led to almost 100 deaths but provided a valuable lesson.   “This opportunity provided the ultimate hands-on exposure to a major component of Michigan’s aquatic ecosystem.”

SIC is a yearlong natural resources education program in which teachers receive fertilized salmon eggs from a DNR fish hatchery in the fall, hatch them out, feed and chickenscratchfever-ad-finalraise the fry through spring, and then release the young salmon into a local river. As a bonus, there’s an entire curriculum to guide participants throughout the year.

“Salmon in the Classroom teaches students about everything – from the life history of fish to the importance of the Great Lakes and fishing to Michigan’s traditions and way of life,” said Natalie Elkins, a DNR education specialist who oversees the program for the department.

“Even better, SIC is a great place-based educational effort that ties right back to the kids’ communities. Studentsjennifer sandler bowen reflexology get invested in and excited about their local rivers and streams, knowing that the smolts they released will return to the very same spot in two to three years to spawn,” said Elkins. “That connection encourages a long-standing appreciation for Michigan’s natural resources and ecosystem health.”

The program has staying power. In Michigan schools for more than a decade, the number of schools participating has grown each year and now boasts 180 schools that will raise salmon through the 2012-13 school year.Rudy Serra campaign ad

To be accepted into Salmon in the Classroom, educators must commit to teaching their students about the Great Lakes ecosystem and fisheries management by raising salmon for almost the entire school year.

“It also requires a commitment on the part of the schools to purchase the necessary equipment including a tank, chiller and other supplies,” Elkins said.

The cost – about $1,200 – can be a significant hurdle for many schools, but Elkins said there are many generous sportsmen’s organizations and private donors willing to support schools with the needed funding.  The students at Kennedy were sponsored by the Ferndale Education Foundation and The Aquarium Shop in Royal Oak, MI. There’s also a lot of guidance available. In addition to Elkins, two DNR staffers – Shana Ramsey at Wolf Lake State Fish Hatchery and Craig Kasmer at Hartwick Pines State Park – co-coordinate SIC and serve as vital fish and tank experts who can answer lots of questions. Visit the Salmon in the Classroom web page to find out more at  .

For our previous salmon story see

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