Inside the Classroom by KayLani Siplin

Being only two months into my WSC term with Skagit Fisheries Enhancement Group, I can definitely say it has been quite the learning experience, and not just for the kids I work with.

As the Education Associate here at SFEG, I have the pleasure of teaching over 500 7th graders about salmon and their habitat through our Junior Stream Stewards program. Each month we go to the classroom and focus on a specific topic whether that is the life cycle of a salmon or the chemistry of the water the salmon like to live in. At a minimum I feel it is my job to help the students become aware of the issues salmon are facing that contribute to their declining populations, but ultimately the goal for me is to get these kids excited about learning and feeling a want, maybe even a need to go out and do something to help the environment.

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Eggs spilling from a female Coho

Being in this position has definitely been a change of scenery for me. I came into SFEG with a background in outdoor environmental education, so standing at the front of a classroom was the last place I thought I would ever see myself. And I was very nervous about it. In the past I have always felt very contained and uncomfortable being in a room with 30 children as opposed to the open space an outdoor classroom like a beach or a forest had to offer. But now having stood at the front of a classroom over 40 times, I have not once felt that discomfort. And it’s great! I felt like I could do anything…That is until October’s salmon dissections came along.

At the beginning the idea of dissecting a salmon seem-

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KayLani and the specimen!

ed like no big deal. How hard could cutting open a fish be? Well, it proved to be very difficult upon receiving my first fish to practice on and being reduced to tears. It took a lot of strength, but I was able get past it and get into it (literally). Donning my lab coat, I managed to overcome two obstacles at once and share with these students the external and internal anatomy of many salmon. I felt a great deal of pride when Lucy said to me that I am a role model for kids that may be intimidated by science by being confident and excited about what I was doing. And of course, what better way to make my heart melt than with the voice of a student exclaiming that “science is so amazing!”

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Reviewing external anatomy with students at Cascade Middle School

Although it has only been two months, being here at SFEG has helped me grow as a person and I hope this trend continues throughout my term. One cannot expect their students to be excited and confident in their abilities if you yourself are not.

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