Salmon in the Schools — a unique partnership between two local, rural school districts — was cut short this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but it will return and be expanded in the coming school year.
Starbuck School Superintendent Kevin Graffis has worked closely with Starbuck Elementary School teacher Lynette Palmer-France and Dixie Elementary School teacher Bill Clancy to offer the Salmon in the Schools program.
The hands-on program explores the role of native fish in the Pacific Northwest and its history and importance to regional Native Americans.
It is partially supported by Northwest Steelheaders, a nonprofit organization whose goal is to enhance native fish populations in the United States.
Salmon in the Schools helps rural school districts install aquariums, secure fish and purchase pumps and required supplies. The program enables students to raise native fish at school in the classroom. A curriculum is designed by teachers with assistance from Northwest Steelheaders.
The plan was for the school year to culminate with a field trip for students with professionals and teachers. Local native fish would be released into nearby streams and waterways. However, due to the school closures, students were not in school to experience the release this year.
The 2020-21 Salmon in the Schools program is expanding to include Nez Perce tribal representatives as featured speakers.