Kenai Students Learning About Salmon In School Program

Alaska Public Media reported on a great program that allows Kenai Peninsula students to learn about how salmon reproduce. Here are some details on the Salmon in the Classroom program from Alaska Department of Fish and Game:

Every September and October, thousands of Alaskan students visit local rivers and creeks to witness the birth of a new generation of salmon. These students are participants in the ADF&G Salmon in the Classroom Program. This innovative, science-based program allows schools to raise salmon from the egg to the fry stage in classroom incubators. Through participation in the project, students learn about the life cycle and biology of Pacific salmon species, their habitat requirements, responsible angling techniques for catching them, and ways to protect Alaska’s valuable wild salmon stocks for future generations. 


To participate, schools must be a recognized public or private educational institution. Generally, one classroom of students conducts the project by housing and maintaining the incubation tank, recording the required data, and by caring for the developing salmon, with one teacher as the primary point of contact between ADF&G and the school. State permits are required in advance to receive salmon eggs for the classroom, and each teacher is required to submit a completion report with specific data at the end of the school year. ADF&G education specialists will assist teachers with the permitting and reporting requirements.

While teachers at all grade levels are welcome to apply to participate in the program, the curriculum has been developed for elementary students. Modifications to the curriculum would be necessary for primary or high school students.

Currently, ADF&G education specialists based out of the Anchorage and Fairbanks offices coordinate regional versions of the Salmon in the Classroom program which are active in the interior and south central areas of the state. Schools in many rural areas are able to participate in a similar program coordinated by University of Alaska Cooperative Extension Service 4-H Natural Resource and Youth Development Program. ADF&G staff offer referral and technical assistance to rural teachers interested in that program.

And here’s some of Alaska Public Media’s story on the program:

The class in Anchor Point was one of 27 that watched biologists do “egg takes” last week at the Anchor River and at Bear Creek, near Seward. Students also learned about the life cycles and habitat of Pacific salmon, as well as how to identify different species from their external anatomy.

“These kids absolutely think it is just one of the neatest things seeing a salmon, putting their hands on a salmon,” said Jenny Gates, assistant area management biologist for the northern Kenai Peninsula ADF&G Division of Sport Fish. “The fact that they’re taking fertilized eggs back to their school to raise coho, there’s so much excitement and smiles.”

Gates said when students take the fertilized coho salmon eggs back to their classrooms, they’ll incubate them and watch them develop through a number of different life-cycle stages until they become adolescent fish, or fry. In the spring, they’ll release the fish back into Bear Creek or into a stocked, landlocked lake.