The award winning ”Salmon-in-Schools” Program (S-i-S) is a science and conservation based educational program administered by the Connecticut River Salmon Association (CRSA) in partnership with the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) Fisheries Division. The CT DEEP’s Atlantic Salmon Legacy Program at the Kensington Hatchery provides the eyed salmon eggs, technical expertise and educational support for the program.
The Connecticut River Salmon Association is a volunteer, nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to supporting wild Atlantic Salmon in the Connecticut River watershed through restoration, conservation and education. It was started in 1974 to assist in these efforts, thereby also assisting in the conservation of all migratory species to the watershed.
Understanding the need for international cooperation to protect wild Atlantic Salmon throughout their range, the CRSA fully supported and participated in the creation of the international convention “The North Atlantic Salmon Conservation Organization” (NASCO) headquartered in Edinburgh, Scotland. Since NASCO’s inception, CRSA members have held positions as US Commissioner, as members of the US Delegation and as an accredited “Non-Governmental Organization” (NGO) with a representative participating in NASCO conferences, most recently in Tromso, Norway.
Started in 1995, “Salmon-in-Schools” was modeled after a program of the Atlantic Salmon Federation in Canada called “Fish Friends.” One Connecticut school was recruited to gauge the potential. That school was North Haven Middle School, and the adventurous teacher was Marge Drucker, who participated as both teacher and Ambassador for the next 20 years.
CRSA members Richard Bell and James Carroll, assisted by DEEP Supervising Fisheries Biologist Stephen Gephard, took on the challenge to grow and manage the program with a dedicated group of volunteers for the next 22 years. CRSA estimates that more than 70,000 Connecticut students were introduced to the anadromous fish life cycle, water quality, habitat requirements and many other related subjects.
The CRSA also assisted in starting the program in Rhode Island and Vermont. These efforts were recognized when the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) awarded the CRSA their “2010-2011 Conservation Achievement Award” in the Education category at their 75th anniversary celebration in Washington DC. Additionally, the CRSA was honored in 2019 with the ”Dr. Sigmund Abeles Science Advocate Award” from the Connecticut Science Teachers Association and the Connecticut Science Supervisors Association.
Participating schools replicate the environment of a salmon stream in their tanks and raise salmon from the eyed egg stage through the Alvin stage and to the unfed fry stage when the fry have absorbed their yolk sack and reached 99% on the development index.
At this point the students have a field trip to a DEEP-designated river with salmon habitat where they have the opportunity to release the fry into the river and experience other aspects of nature that make up salmon habitat.
The CRSA provides an orientation each October, guidance, materials, technical support and other field trip opportunities to participating schools. There is also a password protected section of the CRSA website with educational resources for S-i-S teachers. Eggs are delivered by CRSA liaisons in early January and are generally stocked out in May. Interested schools can visit http://www.ctriversalmon.org or contact CRSA at email@example.com.
PHOTO: Hartland School students at a salmon stockout with teacher Deb Costolnick. [CRSA Photo]
Reprinted with permission from “Salmon-in-Schools Program Focuses on Education, Restoration of Atlantic Salmon” by Thomas Chrosniak, President, The Connecticut River Salmon Association, 2019. Bulletin of the Connecticut Academy of Science and Engineering, Volume 34,2.Copyright 2019 by Connecticut Academy of Science and Engineering.