Port Townsend students release salmon they raised into Piddling Creek

PORT TOWNSEND–The students of Grant Elementary School spent Tuesday revisiting what they had learned about salmon, and then releasing those they had raised in the classroom into the wild.

One grade at a time, the students reviewed classroom material with models of salmon in various stages of development, then spent some time crawling around inside “Fin,” a 35-foot 2500-pound salmon sculpture that is used as a movable educational tool.

The students then hopped onto a school bus and traveled to Piddling Creek near Port Ludlow, where they released their class projects into the wild.

The day was overseen by the North Olympic Salmon Coalition, which runs similar educational events in local schools each year.

“Considering the natural odds, the chances of the salmon released today coming back to Piddling Creek are slim,” said Kai Wallin, coalition volunteer and outreach coordinator.

“But the educational impact outweighs the numbers.”

Started from 250 eggs

The students acquired 250 salmon eggs from Sequim’s Hurd Creek Hatchery in January. About 220 of these grew into salmon that were released.

All of the school’s 300 kids participated in the project, according to first and second grade teacher Dorothy Stengel.

“Kids learn about life cycles and salmon’s role as a keystone species in the ecosystem,” Stengel said of the program.

First grade teacher Peter Braden, who has participated in the school’s salmon program for 10 years, said the lessons taught extended beyond salmon biology and breeding.

“We teach the kids to look how everything they do has an impact on wildlife,” he said.

“We show them how to eo-exist with nature, and how every time they go outside and move a branch it affects something else.

“We help them to develop an appreciation of what they find in nature,” he said.

Braden began the day displaying the salmon’s life cycle with a test-tube representation of each phase.

The kids, who had seen the lesson several times before, easily spouted the correct answers.

They lined up and climbed into Fin, one or two at a time.

“I know why it smells so bad in there,” said Jojo Meyering, 6. “It’s because we were in its stomach.”

Garbage is a prime topic, how moving trash from one place into other changes both environments.

Braden said the children learn about the salmon’s life cycle and their place in the food chain.

This knowledge helps them to understand the role of all animals, he said.

“All these things matter,” he said. “We are giving them a head start in their understanding of nature. “


Jefferson County reporter Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or at charlie.bermant@peninsuladailynews.com.

More in News

Port Townsend pool on track to open in July

Task force favors Chimacum Park for replacement

‘Positive support’ shown for Recompete grant

Port of PA extends lease with Homeland Security

Jason Minnoch, left, and Jim deBord move a set of musical chimes as Al Oman and Jo Johnston look on during preparations on Wednesday for Sunday’s playground opening of the Dream Playground at Erickson Playfield in Port Angeles. The playground, rebuilt by volunteers in May after much of it was destroyed by arson in December, will host an official reopening and dedication ceremony at 3 p.m. Sunday. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)
Reopening ceremony Sunday

Jason Minnoch, left, and Jim deBord move a set of musical chimes… Continue reading

Port Townsend, YMCA sued over 2022 pool ban

Confrontation with transgender employee at center of lawsuit

More muscle than wind in Phase 2 of Race to Alaska

Winds die down, force sailors to alternate with human power

Chris Fidler.
Port Angeles man honored with Distinguished Alumni award

Chris Fidler of Port Angeles has received the Distinguished Alumni… Continue reading

Members of the Makah Tribe bring a gray whale to shore on May 18, 1999. A federal ruling Thursday will allow the tribe to take 25 whales in a 10-year period. (Peninsula Daily News file)
Makah Tribe granted waiver to hunt gray whales

Ruling to allow tribe 25 in 10-year period

Team Roscoe Pickle Train of Port Townsend, which includes Chris Iruz, Enzo Dougherty, Odin Smith and Pearl Smith, were first out of the Victoria Inner Harbour at the start of the Race to Alaska on Tuesday. The cannon fired at noon and 38 racers headed to Ketchikan, a 750-mile contest that started in Port Townsend on Sunday. (Steve Mullensky/for Peninsula Daily News)
Racers restart in Victoria on their way to Alaska

One rescued by Coast Guard; two others try wheeling over land

Sequim city council members approved a $2.45 million purchase of 16.52 acres off West Hendrickson Road to be used for a future park. It remains closed to the public as it’s being leased for agricultural use until plans and funding can be put in place for the future park. (Matthew Nash/Olympic Peninsula News Group)
Sequim purchases 16 acres for park

City negotiated with McCord family for 2 years

Clallam sheriff pursuing $9.6M grant for public safety facility

Defense program geared to supporting military installations

Kayakers to attempt to cross strait on Friday

Six kayakers will attempt to paddle south across the… Continue reading