Kaden Bessette, a Soldotna Elementary school student, carefully carried his trout to Johnson Lake to be released during the Salmon Celebration on Thursday, May 11, 2017 in Kasilof, Alaska. (Kat Sorensen/Peninsula Clarion)

Kaden Bessette, a Soldotna Elementary school student, carefully carried his trout to Johnson Lake to be released during the Salmon Celebration on Thursday, May 11, 2017 in Kasilof, Alaska. (Kat Sorensen/Peninsula Clarion)

Students celebrate salmon after year of learning about them

  • By KAT SORENSEN
  • Thursday, May 11, 2017 9:58pm
  • Newssalmon

Students lined up to carry a bucket with a flopping, splashing rainbow trout down to the bank of Johnson Lake before releasing the juveniles into the water during the annual Salmon Celebration Thursday in Kasilof.

Over 1,000 elementary students helped to stock the lake with rainbow trout catchables from the William Jack Hernandez Sport Fish Hatchery in Anchorage, as part of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game Division of Sports Fish’s stocking program, said Jenny Gates, fisheries bioligist with the division.

“I like how we got splashed by the fish and it flip-flopped around,” said Alena Ellis from Nikiski North Star Elementary.

The day brought students from all over the Kenai Peninsula to learn about everything salmon, and all things environmental.

“This is kind of the end-of-the-year event for our Salmon in the Classroom program,” Gates said. “We have tons of different agencies here with different activities, so lots to do, lots to see and hopefully, lots to learn as well.”

Before releasing their trout, the students stopped to practice some fly-fishing. Then they had a chance to spin the “Salmon Wheel of Misfortune,” which would guide them through the different fates of a salmon’s life cycle. Students also had the chance to identify hides and skulls of different native peninsula animals.

“Most of the things there, I’ve already felt because I shot a black bear and a mountain goat,” said Carter Lemons of Connections Home School. “But it’s cool still.”

Kids could then move on to the “You Don’t Know Scat” table or try their hand at playing “Eye Spy Water Fowl,” before learning about the different macroinvertebrates found in waters on the peninsula.

“Days like today provide a great opportunity for local kids to learn more about salmon and the environment around them,” said Maggie Haring of U.S. Fish and Wildlife, who was guiding students through the early stages of a salmon’s life cycle — eggs and alevins.

At the stocking station, students held on tightly to their trout’s bucket to ensure they made it to the bank of Johnson Lake without flipping or flopping out.

“I just love the fish! We learned that you can’t touch them without having wet hands or they will get hurt,” said Landon Turner of Mountain View Elementary.

“There are so many kids here, and it’s great to see the excitement they have about the fish,” said Chris Guo of the Kachemak Bay Research Reserve.

Throughout the year, the schools work with the Salmon in the Classroom program which brings the salmon life cycle into the curriculum.

“Classes get to attend another field trip in October and come to our egg tanks where we spawn a couple of coho salmon,” Gates said. “Some fertilized eggs go back to their classroom and students get to watch the eggs develop throughout the school year, monitoring the different life stages.”

During the Salmon Celebration activities, some of the classes were able to bring their salmon from the classroom and release them in Arc Lake, just outside of Soldotna.

“It’s just a lot of fun. You get 1,000 kiddos out here and it’s a little nervewracking leading up to it, but that all melts away,” Gates said.

Each student was able to release two rainbow trouts into Johnson Lake — although some took a third or fourth opportunity — so the lake should be well stocked for the upcoming summer season.

Reach Kat Sorensen at kat.sorensen@peninsulaclarion.com.

Abby White, from Nikiski North Star Elementary School, walked her trout down to the water at the Salmon Celebration on Thursday, May 11, 2017 at Johnson Lake in Kasilof, Alaska. (Kat Sorensen/Peninsula Clarion)

Abby White, from Nikiski North Star Elementary School, walked her trout down to the water at the Salmon Celebration on Thursday, May 11, 2017 at Johnson Lake in Kasilof, Alaska. (Kat Sorensen/Peninsula Clarion)

Allehya Roberts, a fifth grader from Sterling Elementary, helped other students identify different animal skulls and hides at the Salmon Celebration on Thursday, May 11, 2017 at Johnson Lake in Kasilof, Alaska. (Kat Sorensen/Peninsula Clarion)

Allehya Roberts, a fifth grader from Sterling Elementary, helped other students identify different animal skulls and hides at the Salmon Celebration on Thursday, May 11, 2017 at Johnson Lake in Kasilof, Alaska. (Kat Sorensen/Peninsula Clarion)

More in News

A cruise ship is docked in Seward, Alaska, on Wednesday, May 25, 2022. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
Cruise passengers encouraged to test before docking in Seward

The request comes as new COVID cases are increasing in Alaska

In this July 13, 2007, photo, workers with the Pebble Mine project test drill in the Bristol Bay region of Alaska, near the village of Iliamma. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is proposing restrictions that would hinder plans for a copper and gold mine in Alaska’s Bristol Bay region. It is the latest in a long-running dispute over efforts by developers to advance a mine in a region known for its salmon runs. (AP Photo/Al Grillo, File)
Restrictions proposed in Pebble Mine fight

Critics of the project called the move an important step in a yearslong fight to stop the mine

Armands Veksejs, Hager Elserry, Dady Thitisakulwong, and Haewon Hong attend a farewell potluck barbecue in Nikiski on Monday, May 23, 2022. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
‘A life in a year’

Foreign exchange students receive send-off in Nikiski

A man fishes in the Kenai River on July 16, 2018, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Peninsula Clarion/file)
Ninilchik River and Deep Creek to open sport fishing

Sport fishing will be open for three upcoming weekends

Sen. Peter Micciche, R-Soldotna, stands in the Peninsula Clarion offices on Wednesday, May 25, 2022, in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Micciche will not seek reelection

His announcement comes a week after the end of the 32nd Alaska Legislature

The Boney Courthouse in downtown Anchorage, across the street from the larger Nesbett Courthouse, holds the Alaska Supreme Court chambers. (Photo by Yereth Rosen/Alaska Beacon)
Alaska redistricting board picks new Senate map after Supreme Court finds a gerrymander

The board could continue work and possibly write a different map for the elections from 2024 onward

A landslide blocks Lowell Point Road in Seward, Alaska, on Sunday, May 8, 2022. (Photo courtesy City of Seward)
Lowell Point Road to reopen Friday

Intermittent blasting work will continue next week

Members of the Kenai City Council participate in a council meeting on Wednesday, March 16, 2022 in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Boys and girls clubs land donation postponed

The issue will be back before the body on June 1

Most Read