"Salmon in the Classroom"

Klickitat School 4th graders
The Yakama Nation Fisheries Program teams up with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Columbia Gorge Information & Education Office to set up fish tanks in several area schools. In the popular "Salmon in the Classroom" program, students have the opportunity to rear salmon obtained from a hatchery in tanks in their own classrooms, allowing the students to observe and learn about the salmon as they hatch and grow. Several area schools have recently "adopted" streams in local communities. This provides further opportunities to explore water quality, habitat, and overall watershed health.

Wishram School students release the salmon fry they raised in their classroom into the Klickitat RiverSalmon and stream units combine as students actually release their salmon into local streams. Many partners work together to make such activities possible.

This past year, five schools in and near the Klickitat Basin were provided with fish tanks and chillers for continual use by the Yakama Nation Fisheries Program.

In past years, hatchery tule (fall Chinook) salmon eggs were provided to Klickitat area schools by Spring Creek National Fish Hatchery, for release into the Columbia River. Beginning in winter 2007-2008, YKFP Klickitat staff provided area schools with Klickitat Hatchery fall Chinook or coho salmon eggs for rearing and eventual release into the Klickitat River.

A thank-you note from a student for the dipnet fishing demonstrationWy-Kan-Ush-Pum (Salmon People)

In addition to in-class presentation with USFWS, Fisheries staff from the Yakama Nation make class visits to provide tribal cultural context: to describe our program and explain more about the cultural significance salmon have to Native people, including discussion of Native American local history and demonstrations of traditional fishing methods. All of us living in the Northwest are Wy-Kan-Ush-Pum!

YKFP staff also visit Camp Chaparral on the Yakama Indian Reservation to give lessons on salmon life history and habitat, and host tours of the Klickitat Hatchery for tribal students.OMSI Salmon Campers getting down into the adult fish trap at Lyle Falls

YKFP staff has assisted with salmon and stream-related activities at the spring Youth Camp for tribal kids held at Rock Creek Longhouse. Along with many other indoor and outdoor activities, kids young and old played "Hooks and Ladders", a Columbia River system salmon migration game, sampled for aquatic macroinvertebrates and learned their importance in the ecosystem, and made gyotaku (fish prints) to take home.

YKFP has also hosted OMSI Salmon Camp on a tour of the Klickitat River. The group was taken on a tour of the Lyle Falls dipnet fishery, the Klickitat Hatchery as well as visiting several habitat restoration and biological and physical data sampling sites in the basin.





White Salmon River Experiential Learning Project

YKFP staff with students touring COndit Dam before it was removed

Through a Pacific Coastal Salmon Recovery Fund (PCSRF) grant, YKFP staff partnered with USFWS and Mid-Columbia Fisheries Enhancement Group (MCFEG) to engage area school students in the historic removal of Condit Dam on the White Salmon River.

The goals were to provide a science-based, locally relevant, experiential education program focused on the removal of Condit Dam, and to engage students and community members in their local watershed. Watershed Educator, Mo Phelan, presenting to students on Condit Dam past & present

Activities included in-class presentations on the past, present and future of the Condit Dam and the White Salmon River by the project's watershed educators, and tours of the dam facilities and environs both before and after decommissioning. Some classes extended their study by sampling water quality in the river before and after dam removal, and presenting their findings to peers.

The project also included community outreach such as a booth at community events, a river-themed kids' parade, Ella, the Giant Salmon mascota student-made giant salmon named Ella, outreach to local landowners on protecting the river's resources, and a fund- and awareness-raising art show for salmon habitat at the White Salmon Valley Library's gallery. A White Salmon River Homecoming Celebration in fall 2012, co-hosted by YN, MCFEG, Friends of the White Salmon River and WetPlanet Whitewater included a free traditional salmon bake for the community, informational booths, and speeches by tribal and local river advocates.

"Welcome Home, Salmon" art show at White Salmon Valley library


Additional support for this project was provided by PacifiCorp, Underwood Conservation District and Columbia Gorge Ecology Institute.















Education Undammed: the White Salmon River Experiential Learning Project (.pdf presentation given at Klickitat and White Salmon Rivers Fisheries & Watershed Science Conference, March 2013)



Field Trips

YKFP staff help Additional support for the project was provided by PacifiCorp, Underwood Conservation District, USFS Wild & Scenic Rivers, and Columbia Gorge Ecology Institute. An extension of the project will involve local students and community volunteers in a restoration project on the former reservoir.provide habitat-related outdoor education to school groups and after-school programs, including tours of the many types of ecosystems within the Klickitat watershed. Field trips often include the Klickitat Hatchery.

Hatchery Manager Jason Rau showing different salmon juvenile life stages   YKFP staff explain watershed processes to Goldendale students
Hatchery Manager Jason Rau explaining egg incubation   GOldendale 3rd graders play Hooks & Ladders at Klickitat Hatchery


Water Jam!    
YKFP staff and students "restoring" salmon habitat at Water Jam '08.

Yakama Nation Fisheries joins up with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, U.S. Forest Service, Mid-Columbia Fisheries Enhancement Group, Klickitat County Solid Waste Dept., Underwood and Klickitat Conservation Districts, Columbia Gorge Ecology Institute and other partners to hold the annual Water Jam festival, a two-day fun and educational Recycle Man entertains the crowd at Water Jam '08.culminating event for area 4th and 5th graders participating in the "Salmon in the Classroom" program. Our third annual event was a hit with students and teachers alike in 2010.

Next year's event is tentatively scheduled for May 20 & 21, 2010 at the Underwood Community Center in Underwood, WA. This year's event turned out to be a good and lively time, too! Activities range from salmon lifecycle mini-golf to wildlife tracking, building an eagle, recycling footprint, Native American storytelling, water quality testing and aquatic bug i.d., water cycle games, to simulating salmon habitat restoration. Kids receive their own Water Jam t-shirts (made from recycled pop bottles) and are treated to a lunchtime concert by Recycle Man & his band, the Dumpster Divers.

The past three years' events were a resounding success for all involved, and we are looking forward to it again!


Read an article in the White Salmon Enterprise about the 2010 Water Jam: "'Water Jam' teaches students about salmon, watershed health"


Outdoor Education

In 2008 and 2009, YKFP staff teamed with other outdoor and environmental educators to teach middle and high school students at Pathfinder Outdoor School at Brooks Memorial State Park Environmental Learning Center near Goldendale, WA. Students sampling for macroinvertebrates in a tributary to the Little Klickitat River Pathfinder Outdoor School is an opportunity for students to learn more about math, science and the ecosystems around them while having fun outdoors.
Students using observation, maginification and guides to key out aquatic macroinvertebrates. The goal is to help them discover how they fit into the world and how each part of an ecosystem makes a difference in their lives each day. Measures of success: when "Bugs are gross!" becomes "Bugs are cool!"
Goldendale High School math and science students did a GPS trail mapping project along Jewett Creek in White Salmon, WA, with which YKFP assisted. YKFP staff also periodically assists with stream surveys and water quality sampling performed by Whitson Elementary students on Jewett Creek in Bingen, WA. Goldendale High School students using GPS units to map the trails at Jewett Cr.


Community Outreach
YKFP staff share information and literature about program goals, projects and accomplishments in the Klickitat subbasin and southern ceded area, and field questions from the community at such events in the local area. Booth about the White Salmon River at White Salmon's Art & Wine Fusion community event

Ella the giant salmon welcomes salmon home to the White Salmon River in 2012


Schoolyard Habitat

Native plantings at Whitson schoolyard habitat



YKFP staff is collaborating with the USFWS on a Schoolyard Habitat program at Whitson Elementary School in White Salmon, WA to encourage kids to interact with their surroundings and learn about the interconnectedness of the natural world, watersheds and the importance of species richness.Suksdorf's desert parsley coming up in the Whitson Elementary Ethnobotany Garden
This involves creating habitat for wildlife by building bat houses, constructing and planting garden beds, providing bird feeders, and planting a variety of local, native plants (in landscape plantings and an ethnobotany garden of culturally important plants) that won't require chemicals or irrigation once established (good for fish, farms & people!) while providing ecosystem benefits for all. Future plans include rehabilitating a pine and oak natural area and trail adjacent to the schoolyard, and recreating a wildflower and bunchgrass meadow on the school grounds to attract native pollinators, birds and other wildlife, and to serve as a living outdoor classroom.

The planting crew for phase I of the Native Pollinator Garden at Whitson Elementary

Staff from the USFWS and YKFP along with volunteer students, moms and master gardeners pitched in in early November, 2009 to plant the first phase of the Native Pollinator Garden at Whitson Elementary.

Syrphid fly in native asters planted as part of the Schoolyard Habitat project at Whitson Elementary
volunteers helping to weed and mulch new plantings at the Native Pollinator Garden

A second phase of the project began in March, 2010. Students from Leslie Jackson's Columbia High School agriculture class in White Salmon, WA propagated hundreds of native wildflower and bunchgrass seeds in a greenhouse over the winter. The late Leslie Jackson, teacher and plantophile extraordinaire, with Jennifer Rowlen of the USFWS with sprouts for the Native Pollinator Garden in the greenhouse at Columbia High School, White Salmon, WA
Over several days, many hands helped out with the project, including
after-school help from Whitson Elementary students, parents, Master Gardeners, and members of the community. Several work days included scalping the sod of the area, using it to add contours to a previously featureless patch of grass and weeds, digging, moving dirt, seeding, planting plugs, putting down wood chips (left from chipping some woody debris in the schoolyard), and during the summer, watering and weeding. Phew! Good thing we have lots of generous volunteers helping out on this--we couldn't do it without them!

For more information about YKFP Klickitat education and outreach opportunities, email or call 509-369-3157.

Essay link: Simple Customs of Salmon Nation

Back to .