It was no ordinary Wednesday SOLV day for students at Rachel Carson Environmental Middle School. Instead of strapping on boots, rain gear, and walking over to Willow Creek for a day of planting, invasive removal, and a fun game, students hopped on a bus and headed East. Something smelled fishy already.
After a little journey, students arrived at Camp Creek in Zigzag, Oregon. Everyone piled out of the school bus onto pristine, untouched land in a beautiful forest! We instantly noticed a huge difference between this area and Willow Creek. We had a feeling we were not in Beaverton anymore. Trees were tall with moss and lichen growing all over them, there was no Reed Canary Grass to be seen, and the stream was clear and complex! It was so neat to see what kind of magic happens when nature is left alone to grow and thrive! We hoped one day we could make Willow Creek look more like this area.
But then we remembered that seeing this old growth forest wasn’t even the reason we came there!! We were there for the fish. And the fish were ready for us. We met Jeff and Morgan from Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and they told us all about the rich nutrients fish have in them! The strongest of our old growth trees have marine nitrogen in them! There’s only one way that nitrogen got there- the salmon! We decided we would help out these trees and the ecosystem up there by tossing the fish out of the ODFW trucks into the stream nearby.
Students lined up eagerly, trash bag dresses on and ready, and carried fish off to their final resting place. Students efishently lined up salmon onto ropes to carry several to the stream at a time. All in all we tossed 600 salmon into the stream! We were salmbassadors of our stream for sure!
Students even cared to take a closer look at these incredible fish at our salmon dissection table! We found thousands of eggs, the small, triangular heart, and much more in our fish! It was salmazing! Students talked about the slime on the fish- how it serves as a defense mechanism and protects the fish from pollutants, the gills of the fish- how they absorb 80% of the oxygen the fish inhale and the kidneys- how they line the entire dorsal spinal cord and filter the blood and produce more red blood cells! We were impressed by these salmon and the larger nutrient cycle they are a part of for sure. We were excited to be a part of that cycle for a day!
While the smell became a little bit overwhelming at times, we continued to spawn-sor our peers strong enough to continue tossing salmon until we left by cheering them on. We had students spawn-taneously diving in for fish to throw by the end!
While this was far from a normal Wednesday together, students, SOLV staff, and ODFW were so happy to be a part of a life cycle so spawn-tacular! Its always impressive to remember what we are capable of when we work together.