For more than 20 years, the Nooksack Salmon Enhancement Association (NSEA) has been working with county schools to teach about salmon habitat and how to recover vital ecosystems to protect them.
This school year, NSEA has worked with 12 out of our 14 elementary schools, plus the Bellingham Family Partnership Program, sharing their curriculum and experiences at no cost to the district.
NSEA’s Students for Salmon Program is an experiential environmental science program that aligns with the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) for fourth graders. According to program coordinator Kendra Krantz, the program teaches the basics of salmon and stream ecology while reinforcing values of stream stewardship through hands-on field activities.
“We introduce a pretty scary idea when we’re in the classroom,” Kendra says. “We tell them the salmon are coming back in fewer numbers and if we don’t do something they may not come back at all.”
“However,” she continues, “through this program students get to investigate what is happening to salmon in their own backyard. They recognize a stream flowing past their school isn’t perfect and then we provide an opportunity for them to do something about it by planting native trees or removing invasive vegetation along stream banks.”
The program is comprised of three phases: an introductory classroom visit giving an overview of salmon habitat, a field trip that includes habitat restoration at a local stream, and a follow-up visit to the classroom.
“Through our program,” Kendra says, “students discover that making salmon habitat better isn’t so hard, and in fact, it’s fun! And even more, they start to see that the work they do to protect salmon is more powerful when they do it together as a class, as a school, or most importantly, as a community.”
For more information on NSEA’s Students for Salmon program and their work in our schools, click here.