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NOAA partners with Pacific Northwest College of Art and Stafford Primary for unique project

TIDINGS PHOTOS: VERN UYETAKE - Third-grader Ava Brill paints a mural at Stafford Primary, a project that complements her curriculum on watersheds and salmon recovery. Last week, Stafford Primary third-graders embarked on a creative experience the school is sure to remember when they created a gigantic mural to hang in the school for years to come.

Students worked with Pacific Northwest College of Art's Esteban Camacho as well as the NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration), first learning about the salmon life cycle before getting a crash course on creating murals. Stafford third-graders, like all third-graders in the West Linn-Wilsonville School District, take part in a salmon unit every year where they learn about unique fish and their habitat.

This year's unit included the fun new project thanks to a partnership with NOAA Protected Resources Division Branch Chief Scott Rumsey. Rumsey has taught a "Salmon 101" course to Stafford third-graders for the past 13 years, and helped facilitate the mural project with NOAA partner Pacific Northwest College of Art. Students also take a field trip through CREST (Center for Research in Environmental Science and Technology) to the Bonneville Dam and Eagle Creek Fish Hatchery, which ties nicely into the mural project.

Camacho spent the morning of Nov. 30 showing third-graders his past works and how students would get the chance to paint the giant mural representing a salmon's life cycle. He used a digital projection of the mural's design onto a giant canvas, and students spent the ensuing three days filling in with paint.TIDINGS PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Sarina Tsai works on a murual for Stafford Primary that depicts the life cycle of salmon.

NOAA and art partners have unveiled the exact mural in San Francisco and in Seattle, but Rumsey said this was the first in Oregon.

"We have done some of these sorts of partnerships with artists to sort of convey messages about salmon recovery and other important environmental issues," he said. "It's a really powerful way, especially with kids, to get that message across, and recognizing that they're some of our best stewards in salmon recovery and watershed protection."

The mural includes ways that students can protect Oregon's salmon population as well as local watersheds, what Rumsey said is the most important thing he hopes students take away from the fun project.

"It's really fun to talk with the kids about the work my agency does, and it's really cool to see how energized they get about salmon and watershed protection, because it's something really vital for them," Rumsey said. "The mural is pretty intricate. It's sort of a daily reminder of our salmon and our watersheds, and how we affect those watersheds."TIDINGS PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Stafford third-graders had some fun painting last week.

Contact Andrew Kilstrom at 503-636-1281 ext. 112 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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