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Salmonids in the Classroom Ever wonder how it all began?
StreamTalk
Fall 2006

 

1986 Workshop Agenda

 

Salmon in the Classroom.
Outdoor CA,
Nov/Dec 1987

 

Kids' Stuff
Trout

Autumn 1992

 

 

 

 

 

 

fry

 

History of salmon and trout in the classroom

Ever wonder how it all began?

"British Columbia teacher Christopher Zimich had been teaching for just three years when in 1980 he encountered DFO community advisor Joe Kambeitz at a science teachers' conference. The event was called "Catalyst", and it stimulated a creative collaboration that continues to this day". Read this article in BC's Stream Talk newsletter that identifies the first teacher to hatch salmon eggs in a classroom.

In 1985, U.C. Cooperative Extension Marine Advisor, Chris Toole, learned about the project while visiting BC. He recognized its potential and went to work getting a similar program established in California. The first year he worked with three teachers who tested the equipment and reared steelhead.

In 1986, with a small grant from the the Department of Education, he purchased 30 aquarium systems, found 30 willing teachers and organized the first Steelhead in the Classroom workshop in California, which was held in November at the Humboldt County Office of Education. Each teacher was paired with a knowledgeable resource professional from the community who provided technical assistance and classroom presentations.

The program was very well received, as I described in the article I wrote for Outdoor California. David Armocido, Colusa science teacher, avid angler, and active TU member, read this article and wanted the program. Not just for his classroom, but for everyone's classroom. He activated TU, and the program quickly spread as TU and other fishing organizations around the state adopted and sponsored it. The Redwood Empire Chapter TU started its Steelhead in the Classroom Program in 1989 and has provided workshops and support every year since then.

The Salmonid Restoration Federation held one of its annual conferences in Fort Bragg in early 1987. During the "break-out" session in the afternoon, I stood next to an aquarium-incubator system and a photo display and talked to dozens of very interested people. It felt like being at the center of a beehive. Matt and Barry were there from the Monterey Bay area. They were developing a fish education program, and rearing salmon in the classroom was exactly the kind of hands-on science they wanted. They developed the Salmon and Trout Education Program STEP which is going strong today. Sue took the idea to Siskiyou County, and Gary tailored it for the Mattole River. The program continued to grow in this grassroots way.

Trout, the magazine of Trout Unlimited, published a 5 page story about Dave's class raising and releasing steelhead in 1992. This story helped spark interest back east. Trout Unlimited now supports schools in many states around the country.

Regardless of who may assist teachers, rearing salmon or trout in classrooms is an entirely school-based, educational activity. Each teacher develops their own, unique, program.