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)

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)

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