Hook & Hunting: Benzie 7th Graders Prepare for Salmon Release
Students from Benzie Central Middle School have been raising Chinook salmon in their classroom since this past fall. It’s part of the DNR’s “Salmon in the Classroom” program, where students learn about the Great Lakes watershed. They’ll be releasing the salmon into the Platte River this weekend.
Seventh Grade Science Teacher Marc Alderman says, “By connecting our students to their home place it really helps develop that love and caring of their environment and wanting to care about the ecological things we talk about…. invasive species, climate change, really being able to see that in their own backyard and having that connection of raising these salmon helps them connect to their local watershed.”
Benzie Central Middle Schoolers have been participating in the project for several years. They start with fertilized salmon eggs and work through the phases of hatching, feeding and raising them, and then releasing them every spring. “The kids get emotionally attached to the salmon. They give them names. They’re looking out for the big ones and small ones. Caring for them day after day they get this emotional attachment. So it’s a really great culmination,” Alderman says.
This weekend students will also get to enjoy educational programs led by the Benzie Conservation District, and enjoy self-guided tours of the Platte River State Fish Hatchery. The classroom has been supported by Honor Onekama Building Supply.
Natalie Elkins, a DNR education specialist who oversees the program for the department, says, “Students get invested in and excited about their local rivers and streams, knowing that the smolts they released may return to the very same spot in two to three years to spawn.”
“That connection encourages a long-standing appreciation for Michigan’s natural resources and ecosystem health,” Elkins says.