The Next Generation of Environmental Stewards
The Hood Canal Salmon Enhancement Group (HCSEG) conducts salmon research, restoration and education programs throughout the Hood Canal watershed. Our education programs are perhaps some of the most important work that we do for the future of our salmon and Pacific Northwest ecosystems. Our free K-12 education and internship programs give students the chance to develop a relationship with the natural world through engaging hands-on activities and outdoor exploration. By fostering the next generation of environmental stewards, we are ensuring that those who inherit the earth are equipped to care for it.
Every year HCSEG’s Salmon in the Classroom program literally brings young salmon into 3rd and 4th grade classrooms, so while students learn about salmon, ecology, industry, forestry and salmon culture each week, they also get to actively observe the salmon lifecycle. The program commences in the spring with a salmon release, where all students come together outside at a local stream with HCSEG educators to release their salmon and discuss the next stage in the salmon life cycle. We also discuss what the future holds for the salmon while standing in the habitat we’ve been learning about over the past few months.
The joy and excitement shared by both teachers and students around this program makes Salmon in the Classroom an experience we always look forward to. Every year parents reach out to tell us how impactful this program has been on their child; in fact, parents have shared with us that their kids often talk about the experience for years to come. When our educators bring young salmon to new classes at the start of the program, older students see us in the school hallway and joyfully recount their memories of Salmon in the Classroom, creating eagerness and wonder in the 3rd and 4th graders who overhear.
Every year, Salmon in the Classroom proves that active learning provides a life-long impact. HSCEG understands that getting outside is not always safe and possible for every child, so we ensure that this program makes the outdoors and an environmental education accessible for all students. As of 2019, HCSEG received enough grant funding to bring our Salmon in the Classroom program to every elementary school in Mason County. Our goal in 2020 is to keep expanding Salmon in the Classroom, with plans already in place to bring the program to several schools in Jefferson county: Brinnon School and Quilcene School.
Many clubs, school field trip groups, and home school groups from across western Washington also visit our organization’s headquarters, the Salmon Center (located in Belfair, WA) throughout the year, and have expressed the desire to have the Salmon in the Classroom experience for themselves. So in 2019, we installed a salmon tank at the Salmon Center, so that all visitors can come and learn about our sacred Pacific Northwest Salmon. Whether you are young, old, student or lifelong learner, understanding our local ecology and the essential nature of a keystone species like salmon is vital to the health of this place we all call home. Salmon unite us both economically and culturally, creating a sense of community and what it means to be a part of the Pacific Northwest.