This past fall, World Salmon Council was privileged to continue our partnership with Youth Ecology Corps for a third season.
Youth Ecology Corps lost its federal funding this year and could not continue to operate its program past the fall. WSC is extremely grateful for the opportunity to have worked with YEC for a final season, and we documented the experience in a short video.
Youth Ecology Corps was a career-readiness program operated though Metro and Mt. Hood Community College that provided valuable experience in environmental restoration and natural resource management job skills for at-risk youth. Each year of the partnership, WSC provided training to YEC crew members to teach field stations on Salmon Watch field trips with Walt Morey Middle School.
Through Salmon Watch and other activities, Youth Ecology Corps crew members built leadership skills and confidence, gained knowledge about natural resource career fields, and developed skills to help them enter those fields.
Trevor, YEC crew member, says, “Through the entirely of YEC and Salmon Watch I’ve definitely gotten more comfortable in a leadership role. It was really cool just realizing that I was a lot more capable than I thought I was.”
Jana Grote is a retired fish and wildlife biologist. She worked for 32 years with the US Fish & Wildlife Service. Jana has been a longtime Salmon Watch supporter, trainer, and volunteer educator.
How did your interest in biology first develop, and how did that lead to your chosen career path?
My interest in biology can be traced back to a couple of really special teachers and mentors. My 6th grade teacher did lots of science demonstrations which I always enjoyed.
But when I got to college, I started out as a drama and psychology major. But I had a friend who was going into nursing, and so we visited the biology department and met with a professor. And that professor contacted me afterwards and said, “I noticed you didn’t sign up for one of my biology classes.” And I said, “No, I don’t like biology.”
But he continued to encourage me to take one of his classes. So I took his class, and the rest is history. He really encouraged hands-on, experiential learning. We took field trips around the country. We went to Oregon, the Florida Keys, and Colorado. We did projects and experiments. And it got me hooked, and that’s how I became a fish and wildlife biologist.
The redds are made. The eggs are laid. The students are full of new knowledge, inspiration and excitement about science, nature and salmon!
We’ve just wrapped up our 2017 field trip season, taking over 1,300 kids on 42 field trips to local rivers and streams to witness firsthand the incredible life cycle of salmon, gain insight into career opportunities related to ecology and the outdoors, and connect with their environment on a personal level.
And although Salmon Watch is only halfway through its annual program, we’re ready to celebrate!
Of course, none of this would be possible without our amazing volunteer educators, hard-working teachers, community partners, and generous donors.
That’s why we’re hosting our End-of-Year Party on Tuesday, December 12 from 6:00-9:00 PM at North End Saloon in Portland to say a big thank you for all you do!
Please join us for an evening full of delicious food and drink and learn what Salmon Watch has been up to this year. This is also a great opportunity to meet like-minded community members who cherish our great outdoors and want to help inspire the next generation to protect it.
Salmon Watch had a fun, successful fall 2017 field trip season!
This fall, we hosted 42 field trips with 28 teachers at 21 middle and high schools in the Portland metro and Columbia Gorge regions. We brought over 1300 students to beautiful stream sites in Mt. Hood National Forest, Tillamook State Forest, the Columbia Gorge, Eagle Fern Park, and Daybreak Park (WA). These students had the opportunity to witness salmon spawning in the wild, learn about Pacific Northwest ecology, and gain a sense of connection to the incredible bioregion where they live.
The wildfires this season provided both a challenge and an additional learning opportunity for our students about the ecology of our area. We were fortunate to be able to relocate ten former Columbia Gorge field trips and two volunteer trainings to Eagle Fern Park near Estacada. Many thanks to Clackamas County Parks for providing last minute access to our new site. Our thoughts continue to be with all of those affected by the fires.
Salmon Watch was fortunate this season to be able to work with students from The Blueprint Foundation who are participants in a STEM mentoring program for young African-American males.
Shivonne Nesbit is Acting Assistant Branch Chief with the Portland Branch of NOAA Fisheries West Coast Region, as well as a Fish Biologist/ESA Permit Specialist with the NOAA Protected Resources Division. Shivonne also serves as President of the Oregon Chapter of the American Fisheries Society.
How did you gain your interest in science and biology, and how did that interest lead to your chosen career path?
I grew up on a lake in eastern Canada. Growing up in a lake ecosystem, I was always connected with water, seasons, and ecological changes. As a kid, you don’t usually think about these connections. But we always swam in the summertime and built forts on islands, and in the winter we’d ice skate and you could look and see all the vegetation and fish under the ice. I think growing up so connected to nature is how I became interested in science and biology. I spent pretty much all my time outside. We didn’t have a TV or electronic gadgets, so the outdoors was our playground and our best toys.
How and why did you get involved in Salmon Watch?
Throughout my career as a biologist, I’ve always been involved as a volunteer with outdoor education. When I moved to Portland, one of my colleagues with the US Fish & Wildlife Service told me about Salmon Watch. So, I got involved as soon as I moved to this area in 2010.
Alex Whistler is a retired forester with the Bureau of Indian Affairs. In fall 2016, he was a star Salmon Watch Volunteer Educator, teaching on a total of six field trips in the Riparian Zone Observation field station.
Why did you first get involved in Salmon Watch?
I started participating in Salmon Watch because years ago, a mentor of mine thought it was important for folks with Native American heritage to get involved in our local communities. I’m a member of the Sac & Fox tribe and my mother was Choctaw. My mentor convinced me it was important to do something with education and kids.
Can you elaborate on why your mentor thought it was important to get involved in environmental education in particular?
Native youth living in urban environments and urban kids, period, just don’t get out in the woods enough. My mentor grew up on a reservation that was fortunate to have 4-H programs available. 4-H is a rural organization that has programs on forestry, bees, wildlife, soil, etc. He said his early involvement in 4-H was enlightening because once you learn the science behind what’s going on in the soil or why bees are important, then you might want to come back to that field for a career. Kids need to know their options. They need to know there are more options available than playing basketball or being a rock star.
Salmon Watch Projects are an opportunity for students to put their learning into action and give back to their watersheds and communities.
Each year, Salmon Watch students engage in an eclectic mix of projects: from restoration projects like Hudson’s Bay High School’s Earth Day riparian tree planting, to art installations, to research projects.
This past school year, Sue House’s Environmental Science class at Madison High School conducted a semester-long research project examining environmental health at the nearby Dharma Rain Zen Center campus.
Dharma Rain’s new campus is located on 14 acres of a former landfill in a low-income neighborhood in NE Portland. The Center purchased the site in 2012, and has been working on restoration projects since. With partners, they have installed stormwater management and methane mitigation systems, removed invasive species and planted natives, improved soil, and planted a community garden and fruit orchard.
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This Earth Day 2017, Steven Jones’ biology and environmental science students at Hudson’s Bay High School had the chance to give back to their community and watershed by helping to rebuild the riparian area around Salmon Creek in Vancouver, WA.
On a drizzly Saturday morning, they ventured out to Salmon Creek Greenway and planted a variety of native trees as part of Clark Public Utilities’ Annual StreamTeam Earth Day Fest.
Tommy Miller, a StreamTeam volunteer for five years, explained, “As trees grow, they provide a number of things. Shade is one of the first and foremost. They act as filters for water quality. And as they grow up and age out and end up falling over and dying, they provide wood and nutrients to the stream. All those three things are very important to salmon.”
Steven Jones’ high school students had the opportunity to learn about the importance of healthy riparian areas on their Salmon Watch field trip to Daybreak Park in October 2016. One of the four Salmon Watch stations is Riparian Zone Observation. In this station, students learn to observe the riparian area and look for clues regarding stream health. The presence of shade trees to keep water cool for salmon is one of the key features of a healthy riparian area.
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Are you a middle or high school teacher looking for a way to integrate experiential education into your classroom? Apply to participate in Salmon Watch today!
What does it mean to be a Salmon Watch teacher?
Being a Salmon Watch teacher means that you are committed to helping instill in your students a deeper appreciation of the importance of wild salmon, watershed ecology, and being well-informed and responsible citizens.
As a Salmon Watch teacher, you will:
- Incorporate the Salmon Watch curriculum into your classroom lessons, and make further connections between the field trip and the subject matter in your class;
- Get to take your students on a field trip to one of our beautiful, nearby salmon-bearing streams where they will participate in four learning stations that will educate them on core principles of riparian ecology and salmon biology;
- Complete a Salmon Watch Project (research, art, advocacy or service project) designed to reinforce the connections made on the field trip and involve students in giving back to their human and natural communities.
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Issues related to ecology, watershed health and salmon don’t just belong in a biology or environmental studies class. They are pertinent to a wide variety of subjects, and connect many themes throughout science, social studies, history, and language arts.
That’s why 7-8 grade science teacher Alfonso Garcia Arriola and 7-8 grade social studies and language arts teacher Heather Kelly-Siegfried at ACCESS Academy make such a wonderful interdisciplinary teaching team!
Alfonso Garcia Arriola has been a science educator for 19 years, including 14 years at ACCESS Academy. In 2016, he was honored with the NSTA’s Robert E. Yager Excellence in Teaching Award. Heather Kelly-Siegfried has been teaching middle school language arts and social studies for 16 years, including 4 years at ACCESS Academy.
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