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Ridgefield second graders celebrate salmon release

Growing, running and going with the flow — it turns out Union Ridge Elementary students have some things in common with the salmon they raised in class.

RIDGEFIELD, Wash. — In this week's Let's Get Out There, we head to Union Ridge Elementary School in Ridgefield, Wash. The second graders took a field trip months in the making to nearby Abrams Park for a special kind of "release" party.

“There's a nice sidewalk all the way down to Abrams Park,” said second grade teacher Corrina Hollister. “So we all follow each other down to Abrams Park.”

The park is a short walk from the school. Some parents came to see what the kids have been learning.

“I like seeing them get older,” said second grader Kayson Lasee.

He’s not talking about his parents, but the salmon parr — just a few months old — they came to release in Gee Creek. Union Ridge received over 300 eggs back in November.

Credit: Corrina Hollister

“And then they turned into alevin (a newly-hatched salmon). They went through the whole lifecycle, all the way up to parr,” said Mrs. Hollister.

This hands-on learning is part of Washington’s statewide curriculum Since Time Immemorial: Tribal Sovereignty.

“The kids learn about the salmon ceremony, the first salmon and how the Native Americans of this area depended on the salmon for their food source, and they respected the salmon,” Hollister said.

Credit: Corrina Hollister

From Gee Creek, the salmon will swim downstream to the ocean through the Columbia River. Even though the fish didn’t hatch in the creek, the hope is they treat it as their birth stream and return to spawn.

“It's been really fun, Hollister said. “The kids are so excited. They're learning about life cycles, learning about salmon, learning about the environment and how important the environment is so we can keep the salmon around.”

Students and parents gathered next to the stream and watched Mrs. Hollister empty the bucket holding about 100 parr into the water. The other half of the 300 fish were released the week before.

Credit: Jon Goodwin, KGW

“It's a wonderful experience for kids,” she said. “I think the more hands on learning we can give them, the better. Those are the things they're going to remember. Not the workbooks. They're going to remember all these hands-on learning experiences, I think, the most.”

Union Ridge's "Salmon in the Classroom" program was administered by Columbia Springs and funded by Clark Public Utilities.

Let's Get Out there airs once a week on KGW's 4 p.m. newscast and The Good Stuff, which airs Monday-Thursday at 7 p.m. We're including viewer photos for this series. You can text your photos to 503-226-5088 or post them on the KGW Facebook page.

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