Creeks & Critters!

Okay. So. Now that I have obtained the pictures to prove it, I will tell you all about the awesome outreach project I’ve worked on for much of my internship… a project which has finally been project-ed onto some kids! You see, the brain behind my internship was Jeff Heys, formerly a Habitat Restoration Biologist at the Anchorage Fish and Wildlife Field Office. Jeff wanted to make sure that the more diverse, low-income kids of Anchorage were getting an opportunity to learn outdoors—and although he did not have time in his busy work schedule to complete this task, he proposed a grant to fund a Student Conservation Association (SCA) intern who could take it on. And if you have put 2 and 2 together here you already know that I am the lucky SCA intern who was hired for the job!

The next step of course was to “give the cat a name”…and my project came to be known as “Creeks & Critters!”. Creeks & Critters was an event geared towards getting Title 1 elementary school students outdoors to learn about their local creek ecosystem.

By the numbers:

5 Activity Stations 3 hours spent outside

10 volunteer educators (8 from FWS)

4 teachers

10 parent chaperons 

86 enthusiastic students!

Here is one of the first photos of the day…just look at all those kids getting outside!!

On the day of the event, the kids were split up into groups and rotated through 5 half-hour activities including Salmon ID, a “Nature Scavenger Hunt”, Macroinvertebrates, Noise Pollution, and Salmon Life Cycle. It was SO wonderful to see the smiling, excited faces of the kids as they made their way to the Campbell Creek, only a minute or so walk from their school. A few pictures from my station…Salmon ID! Did you know you can remember all 5 species of pacific salmon using only your hand??

Allow me to explain:

Pinky Finger = Pink Salmon

Ring Finger = Silver Salmon (rings are silver!)

Middle Finger = King Salmon (its the biggest/king!)

Index Finger = Sockeye (if you were a ninja who could only fight with your finger, you would “sock someone in the eye”?

ALSO, then your eye would turn RED…the other name for a sockeye) Thumb = Chum Salmon (It rhymes! ALSO, you could give a thumbs up and say, “Sup DOG”. Dog is another name for Chum Salmon. Haha, okay, that one doesn’t make sense, but it sure makes the kids laugh at how ridiculous I look.)

We also played a game of rock, paper, scissors related to the salmon life cycle. You start out as an egg and if you beat another egg you become a fry and so on until you are a King Salmon! Kids got really into it…

Overall it was a great day and I got a lot of good feedback from teachers about how much their kids enjoyed Creeks & Critters. They even said they want to make this a yearly outreach project with my office! I am going to do my best to leave all the planning materials behind so that this can be an easy and fun new tradition for Fish and Wildlife Service and Tudor Elementary School. : )