Third-graders at Boones Ferry Primary release salmon into river to continue life cycle

SPOKESMAN PHOTO: CLARA HOWELL  - Onika Hernandez, 8, (front) and Zoe Gann-Winslow, 9, (back) lead the class down the dock to release the baby salmon.Boones Ferry Primary third-graders stood on a dock and took turns passing styrofoam cups filled with baby salmon down the line of students until the last hands touched the cup and released the fish into the Willamette River.

Eight-year-old Caleb Shank's favorite part? "Probably seeing them swim away," Caleb said. "Seeing how they happily swim in the water and have so much space."

SPOKESMAN PHOTO: CLARA HOWELL  - Louisa Sneath, 8, marvels at the fry swimming around in the cup.Since October, Cindy Krieg's class — along with three other third-grade classes — have had a tank of salmon, which started out just as eggs, in the community space outside of their classrooms. Students were able to learn about and observe the salmon's life cycle before taking turns releasing the fry — salmon in their third stage of life — into the river Thursday, Dec. 14.

"It's kind of neat for them to see that this is where they go and this is how they are going to continue their life cycle," Krieg said.

But this year, out of about 250 eggs the third-grade classes received, many died.

SPOKESMAN PHOTO: CLARA HOWELL - Susan Schenk allows Boones Ferry third-graders to release salmon from her dock in Wilsonville. "We have never had so many die at their second stage of their life cycle. We think it had to do with the cloudy water (in the tank)," Krieg said. "We are unsure why this happened, but it hasn't happened before. It is all just part of the cycle of life."

Even so, retired Portland Public Schools science teacher Susan Schenk allowed the classes to walk from school to her home

to release the salmon wfrom her dock in Wilsonville.

"I just think its a very exciting project — we love the river ourselves," Schenk said. "This way, over 100 kids get to actually put their hand into the river and recognize the resource that's here."

As part of the common core, Krieg said students learn about organisms and their life cycles, and said salmon provide a good example.

Earlier in the year, third-graders were able to take a field trip to Bonneville Dam where the classes observed how the salmon swam up the fish ladders to spawn.

SPOKESMAN PHOTO: CLARA HOWELL - Third-graders Adan Vasquez (left) and Efty Otto (right) work on a class assignment, learning about one particular stage of the salmon's life cycle.But because of the ash and fire from the Eagle Creek Fire, students weren't able to see as much.

"They get to see how the salmon have to fight their way to go back to where they want to spawn so they love it; it's a way for them to see how an organism starts from an egg and it moves on to its different stages...and how the environment affects them," Krieg said. "They saw that with the problem of the fire and they learned the different hazards or threats to the salmon, whether it be that the water gets too warm or if there's a bear or predators out there."

SPOKESMAN PHOTO: CLARA HOWELL - Each table group in the four third-grade classes have salmon habitats. Cindy Krieg says some of the students name the fish.
Aside from observing the salmon in the tank during class, students were also able to become experts in the different stages of the salmon's life cycle. They split up into groups and researched information to create posters to share with the class.

SPOKESMAN PHOTO: CLARA HOWELL  -  Third-grade teacher Cindy Krieg scoops the little fish in styrofoam cups before passing the cup around and releasing the salmon."I think this is a thing that makes it really interesting for them because they get hands-on and they can teach; they love teaching others about what they know," Krieg said. "It's a good way to experience the life cycle of an animal. They can see so many parts of it and we try to use that to have them relate it to other things in life: how the life cycle is of different animals and people."SPOKESMAN PHOTO: CLARA HOWELL -  In the community area, outside of the third-grade classrooms, is the tank where the salmon were raised.

Wilsonville Spokesman reporter Clara Howell can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 503-636-1281 ext: 112.

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