Dozens of schools across West Michigan are celebrating spring with annual salmon releases, as part of Salmon in the Classroom.
It’s a year-long Michigan Department of Natural Resources program that provides grants to schools that sign on to care for fertilized eggs until they can be released as young salmon — called fry — into local rivers.
The program teaches students about the life history of fish, natural resources conservation and the importance of the Great Lakes and fishing to Michigan culture. Taking care of them is a process that takes daily monitoring.
Below are two districts that recently bade farewell to the salmon they had raised from eggs.
East Grand Rapids
Wealthy Elementary third-grader Olive Starck said she didn’t name the salmon in teacher Thomas Morris’s class because “there were too many to keep track of.” And even though they were still just a few inches long when they were recently released, “they’ll get 10 times the size they are now, probably,” added classmate Georgia Jendritz.
Morris’s students and a shoal of parent volunteers gathered at Fish Ladder Park downtown for the release of 176 fry.
As he stood in front of a shiny Rogue River with blue skies overhead and green grass coming up for spring, high school science teacher Brian Hendricks said to his students: “If you just pause for a minute, you can feel Mother Nature here.”
Third-graders from North Oakview Elementary came to watch the salmon the high schoolers raised to be released. A few lucky ones even got to put on waders, get in the water and help dump a bucket of salmon into the river.
“This is the first time we’ve done something like this at Northview, and we hope to continue it,” Hendricks told those gathered for the event. “It’s just cool to see the kids get excited about it.”