Nearly 200 Classroom-raised salmon find new life in the Clinton River
Nearly 200 Classroom-raised salmon find new home in the Clinton River
Posted on 05/17/2018
Student looking at Salmon in a bagAn interest in science and the environment has grown this year at Wiley Elementary.

The school’s sixth graders took part in the Salmon in the Classroom program this year, raising the 170 fish from eggs in a classroom tank at their school. 

On Thursday, the students released the two-inch long Salmon into the Clinton River at Yates Park so the fish can begin their new life making a 150 mile trek to Lake Huron and back.
“This was amazing,” said sixth grader Maia Suggs. “To watch the salmon grow from eggs was incredible.”

The Salmon in the Classroom program was created by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources to encourage conservation among students and promote an interest in the environment. 

It also supports the school’s curriculum, including units cell development, life cycles and habitat niches.  More than 22,000 students in Michigan participate in this hands-on science program.

For Wiley students, the program began in November when Science Specialist Marina Suggs received 200 salmon eggs and set up a tank in the classroom.

The students learned how to care for the fish, feeding them after they hatched, making sure their tank was clean and ensuring the water had the right chemical balance.

The program was sponsored at Wiley by the Detroit Area Steelheaders, which covered the cost of the tank, chemicals and food for the fish.

“We think it’s important that students learn about the ecology of Michigan,” said Steelheaders member Rodney Elnick. “As they grow up they will appreciate it more.”

Elnick said he visits the school each week to answer questions and check on the fish. Common questions include how to keep the tank clean or the salmon’s life cycle.

“Every time they ask me a question they learn something new,” he said.

The salmon released at Yates Park by the Wiley students will travel down the Clinton River and into Lake St. Clair and into the colder water of Lake Huron.

Using their sense of smell, the salmon will return in about four years to the Yates Park area – a trip Elnick said will be about 150 miles.

“After today, the salmon may get eaten, but they will go into the lake where they grow up and come back here to have babies,” explained sixth grader Tristan Parry. 

In addition to releasing salmon, Wiley students also looked through the muddy area near the river to study its habitat. Students discovered a few “blood worms” – named after their red color.

“That was my favorite part,” said sixth-grader Anthony Berant. “I really liked looking through the mud because I like to get dirty.”