Salmon Watch (est. 1993)
Over the past two decades, we have seen firsthand the positive educational benefits that Salmon Watch has provided to teachers, students, other program participants and communities throughout Oregon.
— James Capurso, Regional Fisheries Biologist, Pacific Northwest Region, US Forest Service
SALMON WATCH’S MISSION
The Salmon Watch environmental education program teaches middle and high school students about the importance of wild salmon conservation in watershed management. The program is designed to instill in students and other participants a deeper appreciation of their wild salmon heritage and the importance of being well-informed and responsible citizens. Salmon Watch touches the hearts and minds of children to save the wild salmon.
Salmon Watch was founded by Oregon Trout (later The Freshwater Trust) in 1993. Over the past two decades, the program has educated more than 60,000 schoolchildren in Oregon. The program was discontinued by The Freshwater Trust at the end of 2010 (due to a shift in organizational mission) and is now back by popular demand under the auspices of World Salmon Council.
WHY IT’S IMPORTANT
If we want our children as adults to value their natural heritage and to make informed and thoughtful decisions about natural resource issues, we must enable them to understand and relate to the natural world on a personal level.
Our youth, however, live increasingly urban and technological lives, isolated from the natural environment. Salmon Watch enables students to connect with nature and experience the relationships of humans to their environment through learning about the life cycle of wild salmon.
Salmon Watch also inspires hundreds of public agency experts and others to volunteer as field trip station educators, sharing their expertise and real-world experiences. These volunteers in turn help students to increase their knowledge of how scientific research in ecology is done. Engaging with these professionals also allows students to learn about diverse natural resource and STEM career opportunities.
Overall, Salmon Watch serves as a successful model of cost-effective collaboration among private and public organizations working together to enhance education as well as protect salmon populations and the ecosystems that sustain them.
HOW IT WORKS
Using salmon as the focal point, Salmon Watch provides comprehensive, multidisciplinary education in the classroom, field study and in-stream observation, and community service projects.
The curriculum incorporates diverse perspectives and innovative learning designed to enhance the critical-thinking and problem-solving skills of students and other participants.
On field trips, students conduct hands-on activities to understand salmon biology, identify macroinvertebrates (aquatic insects), conduct water quality monitoring, explore riparian zones and collect and disseminate data. This gives teachers a path to bridge field experiences back into the classroom and facilitate STEM educational opportunities.
Salmon-friendly projects in which students participate throughout the school year include hands-on stream restoration efforts, salmon spawning surveys, teaching younger kids about salmon, making presentations to community groups, art projects, installing rain catchment systems, and many other diverse activities chosen by the teachers and students.
WHAT WE WANT TO ACHIEVE
Through Salmon Watch, students and other participants will:
– Appreciate the interdependence between humans and the ecosystem in which we live
– Recognize wild salmon as an important indicator of watershed health
– Understand the value of protecting native fish stocks
– Receive core-standard, STEM oriented education in the classroom
– Participate in community service projects addressing critical issues and raising community awareness about healthy watersheds
UNIQUE PUBLIC/PRIVATE PARTNERSHIP
World Salmon Council would like to thank our 2016-2017 School Year Salmon Watch partners for their generous support: Dick’s Sporting Goods | The Jackson Foundation | MK+Associates | Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission | Portland General Electric | Trout Unlimited-Clackamas River Chapter | US Bureau of Land Management | US Forest Service