Students release salmon into river, continue life cycle

Students in Red Cedar River
Project FISH Coordinator Mark Stephens provides information during New Morning School’s salmon release at Ferguson Park in Okemos, MI.

A yearlong study of the lifecycle of salmon concluded with a field trip to the Red Cedar River in Okemos, MI. — the last stop before the salmon reach their ultimate destination of Lake Michigan.

The project began in November, 2018 through the ongoing DNR Salmon in the Classroom project. This program is a hands-on project organized through the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and offered to classrooms across the state.

Science/STEM teacher Paul Hanna brought more than 200 fertilized Chinook salmon eggs back to a tank in the science room at NMS. There, the water condition and temperature was carefully monitored throughout the school year, with students from preschool through middle school keeping close tabs on the progress of the salmon.

Students learned about tank chemistry, watershed management and ecosystem ecology along the way.

Students put on their hip waders before entering the water.

The salmon grew from resembling tiny pearls to being two or three inches long over the course of six months.

Along with releasing the salmon into the Red Cedar, students also studied vertebrates and invertebrates found in the waters at Ferguson Park, which was the launch site for the fish. Students also studied the park to find various forms of wildlife, ranging from deer to various types of birds.

Students put on hip waders and carefully moved into the Red Cedar, where they released the salmon.

Mark Stephens, who serves as the Project FISH coordinator with the Michigan State University Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, helped oversee the salmon release at Ferguson Park.