Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Youth Fisheries Academy with the Skokomish Tribe

Hey there!

One of the Youth Fisheries Academies that we conducted this summer was with the Skokomish Tribe. I worked with two large groups of kids from 1st through 12th grade. I first worked with the high school students at George Adams State Fish hatchery. I started the day leading an invertebrate sampling station where students got a chance to step into the creek and see what they could catch. I had never led any stations on benthic macroinvertebrates before, but growing up fly fishing gave me the knowledge I needed to successfully lead the group.

Zach netting invertebrates
First, I explained just exactly what we were looking for-- animals that live on the bottom of a stream, are large enough to be seen without a microscope or magnifying glass, and have no backbone. Then we tromped around the creek to stir some of these animals out of the gravel and into the net.

Identifying the "catch"
Once the sample was collected, the group and I went onshore to pick through the sample container and start identifying our "catch". The students seemed blown away at the amount of living invertebrates we were able to pull out of 1 square foot of gravel; many had no idea that these animals were even around.

Later that day I switched from invertebrate sampling to fish dissections. I helped the students dissect their own trout as I demonstrated proper dissection technique on a large coho salmon. This is one of the most popular stations at all of the Youth Fisheries Academies so I really enjoyed leading the dissections (even though it got blistering hot in the dissection tent and I smelled like hot, old, dead salmon for the rest of the day).

Fish dissection
The second group of kids I worked with were aged of 5 through 13. This is my favorite age group to work with because they usually are enthusiastic, extremely curious, and ask some hilarious questions during the lessons. I helped lead a fish health and ID station for the first half of the camp and then helped the campers identify the live trout and salmon smolts that we brought. Halfway through the camp, a Skokomish storyteller told an amazing story to the children about how the Skokomish Tribe and the chum salmon came to be. After the story was finished, we transitioned to salmon dissections for the remainder of the camp. The kids and I had a blast going through each salmon organ together and explaining the purpose of each one.

This camp was one of my favorites this summer with great campers, parents, stories, delicious barbeque, enthusiastic questions, and the smell of salmon dissections in the air! What more could you ask for from a summer job?


--Zach Moore, STEP Fisheries Technician


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