Undeterred by soggy, misty rain, a parade of what appeared to be zillions of Vaughn Elementary School students, under the guidance of teachers and parent volunteers, carefully made their way down the shoulder of a puddle-spattered roadway to the site of the annual release of the school’s salmon fingerlings into Vaughn Creek.
We were blessed. The rain stopped.
The annual project is to raise salmon in an exposed aquarium at the school to get students interested in salmon, their habitat, and to learn ways to coexist.
“We are fortunate to have access to Vaughn Creek on Mr. James Bosch’s property to release the salmon, as we get to see the perfect habitat for salmon,” said Doug Smith, a teacher and leader of the event.
The creek is shaded by trees and plants to keep it cool. There is gravel for the salmon to lay their eggs in when they return from the ocean. The water is clean.
“If we have creeks and streams that salmon can live in, then we have the habitat for other animals, plants and fish to live,” Smith said. “The Department of (Fish and Wildlife) allows us to release the salmon into Vaughn Creek to let us experience what is good for salmon. They also supplied us with the tank and cooling unit so we can experience the first three stages of the life cycle of the salmon, and that is pretty cool.”
Smith said they collect the salmon eggs and place them in the tank, and then students watch them daily for several weeks before they release them.
Lemme tell ya, watching the eggs go from egg, to egg-attached to tiny-fish bellies, then develop into egg-free, lightning-fast critters that swirl around in the tank and hide in the gravel bottom is nothing short of exciting.
I mean, for the kids, of course.
Kindergarten teacher Judy Nelson’s charges offered the following commentary on the experience.
Persephone Miller “liked that we walked — a long ways — into the woods, along the water and all the way back.”
Declan Swander “liked when I didn’t fall in the mud.”
Eastan Seymour “liked watching the fish in my cup up close.”
“My favorite part was being with my brother to release salmon,” Jake Martin said.
Vinny Foster added, “When I let the fish go, I could see it moving slow, and then they goed (sic) really fast.”
Chase Weick named his fish Fluffy.
“We put them in the water, and then we couldn’t see them, but I don’t think they turned invisible,” Valarie Woodriff said.
“I think they blended in with the rock,” Joey Turk countered.
Aarti Ladenburg agreed.
“That is a good guess,” Ladenburg said. “My salmon was cute in the cup.”
I heard a couple of the younger guys and gals saying, “So long, Billy, be sure to come back” — or words to that effect.
Let’s hope many of them do.Hugh McMillan: 253-884-3319 firstname.lastname@example.org