The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) started Salmon in the Classroom in 1991 as a staffed line item in its budget. WDFW continued the program through 2012, when budget cuts led to a decision to limit the state’s participation to issuing permits.
A coalition of educators, agency staff members, and environmental advocates formed the “Salmon Education Alliance” to administer the program throughout King County and a few schools in adjacent counties, starting with the 2012-13 school year. At that time, the name “Salmon in the Schools” began to encourage tank placement so the entire school could be aware of the annual project. Members of the leadership team represented Seattle Public Utilities, Friends of the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery (FISH), and the Fauntleroy Watershed Council. FISH was fiscal agent for the program and provided administrative services.
Area coordinators throughout the region worked directly with teachers, from securing eggs to assisting with releases in local creeks and Lake Washington. Seattle Public Utilities and Seattle Parks and Recreation funded a technical specialist who, along with a technical volunteer and area coordinators, provided timely troubleshooting of equipment problems and helped new teachers and volunteers gain confidence in managing their tanks.
Toward the end of the 2015-16 school year, two factors led the leadership team to separate program administration geographically: the FISH board decided to scale back its role and the only secure source of operating revenue proved to be annual budgeting for water-quality/stewardship education by Seattle Public Utilities and Federal Way Surface Water Management. Now, “Salmon in the Schools – Seattle” (SIS-Seattle) coordinates the program within the city and other entities do so for clusters of schools elsewhere in the region.
SIS-Seattle’s leadership team consists of representatives from Seattle Public Utilities, Fauntleroy Watershed Council, and Carkeek Watershed Community Action Project. We welcome new members who are interested in fostering this well-respected program and helping SIS-Seattle realize more opportunities in support of participating schools. Contact us!