Monday, June 17, 2013

USFWS Internship & Mentoring Programs 2013 - Outreach Activities

The hush that fell over the students as I made my first incision quickly transitioned into a wave of awe and excitement as they saw, for the first time, the inside of an adult coho salmon.

Fish dissection with
Poulsbo Elementary students
My USFWS internship has been going well as I have kept busy providing support for numerous outreach and education events. Teaching the fish anatomy station at a recent school field trip at Quilcene National Fish Hatchery, for example, was both fun and rewarding. I worked with over 100 third-grade students from Poulsbo Elementary in groups of about 20 teaching them about salmon anatomy (both external and internal) as well as the significance of salmon to the ecology of the Pacific Northwest. Few things can capture the attention of a third grader like a fish dissection. Throughout the day I heard numerous “oohs” and “ahhs” as the students' excitement grew with each new discovery. Their interest reminded me of my younger self when I first discovered the wonderment and excitement that science has to offer.

Simulating river processes  
I also had the pleasure of assisting with the outreach campaign associated with the Lake Sammamish kokanee salmon recovery project. Educating the public about this lesser-known, but no less important, salmon species is a major component of the long-term recovery and conservation strategy for these fish. During this project I provided lessons focusing on river morphology and fish habitat. I used an engaging and effective river model ( that allowed students to take part in hands-on demonstrations of how rivers change over time.  It was also a useful tool for demonstrating features such as log jams, riprap, culverts and bridges. The students were utterly captivated as they watched a river evolving right in front of their eyes. This activity was also a very effective demonstration of both healthy and damaging human interactions with river habitats and riparian zones. Each student walked away with multiple real world examples of how they can practice stewardship and conservation.

It has been very fulfilling to help inspire the next generation of conservation advocates and professionals. Both of these outreach experiences not only benefitted our local schools and communities but they also benefitted myself as well. My public speaking abilities are being significantly strengthened and my retention and understanding of fisheries conservation and stewardship science increases with each lesson I teach.

--Travis Hedrick, USFWS Intern/Fisheries Technician


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