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Salmon education flourishes with egg takes on the Kenai Peninsula

Student Finn Reid (center) looks at a bucket of fertilized salmon eggs held by Kayla Hansch on Tuesday, Oct. 11 at Anchor Point. Roughly 400 students attended the egg take presentations.
Jamie Diep
Student Finn Reid (center) looks at a bucket of fertilized salmon eggs held by Kayla Hansch on Tuesday, Oct. 11 at Anchor Point. Roughly 400 students attended the egg take presentations.

Students from Chapman Elementary School, Aurora Borealis Charter School and Fireweed Academy cheered as Alaska Department of Fish and Game staff fertilized salmon eggs during an egg take presentation at the Anchor River State Recreation Area on Tuesday morning.

Staff members continued to give presentations to 9 more schools for a total of roughly 400 students that day.

The department has done the egg takes for over twenty years. They’re part of the “Salmon in the Classroom” program, where students learn more about the fish through activities and presentations.

The division of sport fishing’s acting area management biologist Jenny Gates and aquatic education biologist Kayla Hansch came down from the Soldotna office and walked students through salmon spawning and anatomy.

After the presentations, eggs went to classrooms where students like Quinn Blackstock will get to see the early stages of the salmon life cycle.

“we're going to be doing an egg take and we're going to grab eggs and we're going to put them in a tank and watch them live and hatch,” she said.

The department also held presentations at Bear Creek for students in Soldotna, Hope and Seward. In addition to the egg take, students got to see the Cook Inlet Aquaculture Association’s Bear Creek weir and a salmon dissection. Trail Lakes and William Jack Hernandez hatchery staff use the weir to collect spawning adult salmon for egg takes.

Students at Soldotna Elementary, Kalifornsky Beach Elementary, Homer Middle, Kenai Middle, Nikiski North Star Elementary, West Homer Elementary schools will also get salmon eggs in the classroom even without going to presentations.

Gates said the program’s goal is to teach students more about an important part of living in Alaska.

“The program’s intended to foster stewardship to this valuable natural resource that Alaskans greatly appreciate, enjoy, and it's what makes part of Alaska unique,” she said.

Hansch found it cool seeing students of different ages learning about salmon during her first year of giving these presentations.

“It's really fun to see just how excited the students are. And they're so easily and engaged in the presentation,” she said, “and you can really see they're taking it all in.”

Students like Blackstone seem to agree.

“This is a really fun experience and I'm glad to be doing it,” she said.

In the spring, classes will release their eggs – which will be fry by then – into a permitted landlocked lake on the peninsula.

Throughout the year, the department will also hold classroom salmon dissections, ice fishing and an end of school year salmon celebration – an event for students to gather and learn more about this ubiquitous Alaskan fish.

Jamie Diep is a reporter/host for KBBI from Portland, Oregon. They joined KBBI right after getting a degree in music and Anthropology from the University of Oregon. They’ve built a strong passion for public radio through their work with OPB in Portland and the Here I Stand Project in Taipei, Taiwan.Jamie covers everything related to Homer and the Kenai Peninsula, and they’re particularly interested in education and environmental reporting. You can reach them at to send story ideas.