Jenny Gates, right, of Alaska Department Fish and Game leads Aliya Blough through a salmon dissection at the Connections Homeschool office in Soldotna on Thursday. (Photo by Kat Sorensen/Peninsula Clarion)

Jenny Gates, right, of Alaska Department Fish and Game leads Aliya Blough through a salmon dissection at the Connections Homeschool office in Soldotna on Thursday. (Photo by Kat Sorensen/Peninsula Clarion)

Salmon in the Classroom gets gutsy

  • By KAT SORENSEN
  • Sunday, February 11, 2018 8:51pm
  • NewsSchools

The “Salmon Professor” visited Connections Home School on Thursday, showing a group of students the ins and outs of one of the Kenai’s most ubiquitous fish — the salmon.

Jenny Gates, a fisheries biologist with the Soldotna office of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, spends the school year teaching students across the Kenai Peninsula everything there is to know about salmon with a wide array of fish oriented events.

“The Salmon in the Classroom program is designed to really educate students on our valuable resource — salmon, of course,” Gates said.

Before digging into the fish, the afternoon lesson included an overview of the different types of salmon, their predators and the different functions of a salmon’s fins.

“The adipose fin —that one does nothing,” said student Caden McKinley.

Gates, though, clarified for the class that the adipose fin’s natural function may be a mystery, but it serves a big purpose in the world of fisheries.

“It really helps with my job,” Gates said. “We cut the fin off and it heals so that we can tell which fish were raised in the hatchery and which are wild.”

From the outside to the inside, the students didn’t hesitate to get their hands dirty once the fish, which were donated by commercial fish processor Snug Harbor Seafoods, were cut open by Gates.

“It’s like a small fan,” Alana Caden yelped while feeling the fish’s gills. “My hands are so yucky.”

Throughout the rest of the school year, Gates will be working with the Salmon in the Classroom program for an ice fishing event and the annual Salmon Celebration, where students release fish into Johnson Lake.

Reach Kat Sorensen at kat.sorensen@peninsulaclarion.com

Caden McKinley splays open a salmon carcass during a dissection at the Connections Homeschool offices in Soldotna on Thursday. (Photo by Kat Sorensen/Peninsula Clarion)

Caden McKinley splays open a salmon carcass during a dissection at the Connections Homeschool offices in Soldotna on Thursday. (Photo by Kat Sorensen/Peninsula Clarion)

Top: Elizabeth Crosby inspects the insides of a salmon during a dissection at the Connections Home School offices in Soldotna on Thursday. Left: Alana Mckinley pokes inside a salmon during a dissection presentation at the Connections Home School offices in Soldotna led by Alaska Department of Fish and Game biologist Jenny Gates as part of the Salmon in the Classrom program.  Above: Caden McKinley splays open a salmon carcass during a dissection at the Connections Home School offices in Soldotna on Thursday. (Photos by Kat Sorensen/Peninsula Clarion)

Top: Elizabeth Crosby inspects the insides of a salmon during a dissection at the Connections Home School offices in Soldotna on Thursday. Left: Alana Mckinley pokes inside a salmon during a dissection presentation at the Connections Home School offices in Soldotna led by Alaska Department of Fish and Game biologist Jenny Gates as part of the Salmon in the Classrom program. Above: Caden McKinley splays open a salmon carcass during a dissection at the Connections Home School offices in Soldotna on Thursday. (Photos by Kat Sorensen/Peninsula Clarion)

Alana Mckinley pokes inside a salmon during a dissection presentation at the Connections Homeschool offices in Soldotna led by Alaska Department of Fish and Game as part of the Salmon in the Schools program. (Photo by Kat Sorensen/Peninsula Clarion)

Alana Mckinley pokes inside a salmon during a dissection presentation at the Connections Homeschool offices in Soldotna led by Alaska Department of Fish and Game as part of the Salmon in the Schools program. (Photo by Kat Sorensen/Peninsula Clarion)

More in News

Alaska State Troopers logo.
Soldotna man found dead in lake, troopers report

State Troopers were notified of a deceased person floating in Browns Lake

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
COVID hospitalizations, cases down from last week

The state reported no new resident deaths from COVID-19 this week

Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire
The Alaska Permanent Fund Corp. building in Juneau is scheduled to be the site where the board of trustees will select a new executive director on Monday, following the investigation into the firing of former CEO Angela Rodell last December being presented to state lawmakers on Wednesday.
Investigators: Permanent Fund CEO’s firing legal but departed from policy

Trustees acted legally, despite not following official policy, and governor didn’t influence decision

A fishing boat passes the Silversea cruise ship Silver Wind as the boat enters the Homer Harbor on Sunday, Sept. 25, 2022, in Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)
Finding refuge

Silver Wind is one of two cruise ships to visit since pandemic.

Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly candidates Dil Uhlin, left, and Jesse Bjorkman participate in a candidate forum at the Soldotna Public Library on Monday, Sept. 26, 2022, in Soldotna, Alaska. Both candidates are running for the assembly’s Nikiski seat. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Nikiski assembly candidates talk borough issues at final municipal election forum

There are three candidates running for the assembly’s District 3 - Nikiski seat

Kenai Middle School Principal Vaughn Dosko gestures toward a cart used to provide school lunch services on Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2022, in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
‘Critical needs’: Security concerns and lunch lines

Safety upgrades, more space sought at Kenai Middle

Soldotna Montessori Charter School Principal John DeVolld explains Montessori materials in a classroom at Soldotna Montessori Charter School on Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2022, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
‘Critical needs’: Soldotna Montessori maxes out

The relocation of Soldotna Montessori is included in a bond package on the Oct. 4 municipal election ballot

Engineer Lake Cabin can be seen in the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge on Nov. 21, 2021. The United States Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service announced Friday, Sept. 23, 2022, that $14.4 million of a larger $37 million package will be used to build cabins in the Chugach and Tongass National Forests. (Photo by Erin Thompson/Peninsula Clarion)
Millions designated for cabins in Tongass, Chugach

$18 million is allocated to the construction and maintenance of cabins and historic buildings — of which $14.4 million is destined for Alaska

Puffin sits by a scratching tower in front of his main pad of buttons on Friday, Sept. 23, 2022, in Nikiski, Alaska. Owner Geri Litzen says Puffin can communicate by pressing different buttons on the pad to form sentences. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Puffin with the buttons

Verbose Nikiski cat earns TikTok followers

Most Read