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Salmon from the classroom, to the trail waters

Third grader Davion Busby, from Emerald Heights Elementary School, looks at his salmon fry last Friday before releasing them into the water at Clear Creek. - Kristin Okinaka
Third grader Davion Busby, from Emerald Heights Elementary School, looks at his salmon fry last Friday before releasing them into the water at Clear Creek.
— image credit: Kristin Okinaka

After Davion Busby’s first visit to Clear Creek Trail, he said he would return. The 3rd grader at Emerald Heights Elementary School said he would return to see if his tree grows and if any salmon returned to the stream.

“I liked it because you actually got to look at them,” Davion said of being able to release salmon fry into Clear Creek.

Several classes from Emerald Heights Elementary School spent last Friday morning at the Silverdale trail testing the water quality, learning about bug life, planting trees and releasing salmon fry into the water. The students had been raising the salmon in their classrooms and it was time to let the fry be in their native habitats.

The program, Salmon in the Classroom, has been around for more than 20 years and is a partnership between Kitsap County Public Works, Kitsap Public Utility District, Suquamish Tribe and the Clear Creek Task Force.

Inviting students in grades 3 to 5 from the Central Kitsap and Bremerton school districts, as well as area private schools, to explore Clear Creek was first started by the Central Kitsap Kiwanis Club and when the group disbanded several years ago, the task force and others took to continuing the educational program, said Pat Kirschbaum, education and outreach coordinator with Kitsap County Surface and Stormwater Management Program.

The program is about more than releasing the fry into natural waters and students going back to the classroom.

“It’s to get students aware of the environment through the salmon,” Kirschbaum said. “It’s learning something that’s a piece of our community.”

The Emerald Heights students were one group of many students who participated in the Clear Creek outing last week and the week before. Kirschbaum added that the program is not deterred by weather and she and some students experienced the first snow accumulation during Salmon in the Classroom during the week of March 12.

In January, participating classes received their tanks with the salmon eggs and observed the eggs hatch and turn into fry. By the second or third week of March they are ready to be released, said Kirschbaum.

On the morning’s excursion, students participated in the activities with the help from task force members, Target employees, parents, Kirschbaum and other community volunteers. Many of the students enjoyed releasing the fry and planting trees that they named, whether being at the trail was new or a frequent place to them.

“I always come here. I come here for exercise,” said 3rd grader Jaden Ritscher.

Task force member Mary Earl said that since the program has been around for a while, there are adults who say they remember being in the program when they were kids.

“We have some people bringing their kids and coming back,” she said.

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