View this email in your browser

Conservation connections for the week of November 19-26


Gratitude comes easily at the end of a successful Salmon Watch field trip season. Each individual and organization that contributes to Salmon Watch brings a unique skill, perspective, and dimension to the program that transforms a "field trip" into a life-changing experience. In celebration of this dynamic tapestry we weave together, I'd like to tell you about some of the special groups and people who bring Salmon Watch to life.

I hope reading this ode to Salmon Watch inspires feelings of gratitude within you for the many community members who answer the call to share nature with children. Click on items in the list below to jump directly to that section.

Best Pots

Who deliver and maintain the portable toilet and work with me to develop a lock system so we can securely store all the Salmon Watch equipment on site. We went through three combination locks before finding one that worked for Best Pots and for Salmon Watch.

The Restoration Practitioners

This summer, Benton Co. Natural Areas & Parks, ODFW, OR Wildlife Foundation, and Weyerhaeuser partnered to place large wood in Seeley Creek to restore salmon spawning habitat.

The Volunteers

Each and every volunteer brings their own unique flare to Salmon Watch. Erik Suring (ODFW) showed up with a cooler full of frozen chinook salmon he picked up at the Oregon Hatchery Research Center, Karen Hans is so invested in Salmon Watch she sometimes shows up when she isn't even scheduled, John Snelling helped keep the site safe and clean and won the record for most trips this season (five!), Tara Davis brought beautiful rocks as gifts for the students, Alexandra Avila seamlessly wove in the topic of carbon sources and sinks, Mario Riofrio removed a metal pipe tripping hazard, Mary Lynn Roush joined the steering committee, and Mark Shepherd who, handily, lives nearby.

Special thanks to the Spanish-language volunteers: Alexandra Avila, Tara Davis, Jazmin Garcia-Lawson, Guillermo Giannico and his daughter, Dionne Mejia, Brooke Penaluna, Mario Riofrio, and Annie Young-Mathews. Not only are these people experts in watershed science, they are comfortable teaching children in two languages!

I am grateful to this year's multiple-trip volunteers: Alexandra Avila (4), Jeff Baker (2), Ari Blatt (2), Tara Davis (2), Jazmin Garcia-Lawson (2), Jill Gasche (3), Karen Hans (3), Julia Johanos (2), Mark Lewis (2), Emily Nussdorfer (2), Dave Pitot (2), Mary Lynn Roush (4), Klynn Shelton (2), John Snelling (5), Cherie Taylor's College Hill Students (taught all four stations on 3 trips), Emily Tonn (2), and Annie Young-Mathews (2).

I celebrate our first-time volunteers and hope to see them all again next year: Carolyn Butchart, Jacob Edwards, Jarod Jebousek, Julia Johanos, Rowan Nelson, Darielle Rocca, Tomas Rodriguez, Mario Riofrio, Klynn Shelton, Ellen Sulser, and Emily Tonn.

Our other amazing volunteers, who helped make Salmon Watch a reality this fall, include: Troy Brandt, Kristen Daly, Stephanie Rhodes, and Matt Weeber. Thanks to you all!

The Families

We tried something new this year - our first Salmon Watch Family Day! On Saturday, November 6, six volunteers offered a glimpse at the world of spawning salmon to everyone who visited Clemens Park.

I am so grateful to the families, like Oktar Khudayar and his children, who took us up on the offer. In total, 61 visitors showed up for our first Family Day. We hope to see even more of you out there next year.

Statewide Salmon Watch Community

Thank you to the other collaborative groups around the state: World Salmon Council, Marion SWCD, and the Lane County partners. Through the pandemic, the Linn Benton Salmon Watch steering committee checked in semi-regularly with our statewide partners. Those meetings helped us keep a field trip program going during a period when field trips weren't possible, brightened my spirits, and led to the production of six excellent Salmon Watch videos by Freshwater Illustrated. 

Benton County Tax Payers

Benton SWCD receives $0.05 on every $1000 assessed property value from tax payers in Benton County. Part of that income allows staff to run programs, including Salmon Watch, that benefit residents of Benton County.

Benton County Natural Areas and Parks

Who provide Clemens Park free of charge, rent a portable toilet for us, and keep the parking lot, facilities, and trails accessible. When we called them about a yellow jacket nest, they came right out and removed the threat. 

The Bus Drivers

Now is an especially hard time to be a bus driver, and one or both of the two men pictured at left safely transported students over the mountain for almost every single field trip this year.

The Teachers

The classroom teachers invest days in preparing their students, both academically and physically, for a streamside science-based experience that's almost guaranteed to be cold and wet. This year was extra challenging because they weren't able to bring parent chaperones on the field trip.

College Hill Alternative High School

One of my favorite things about our Salmon Watch program is the intergenerational connections that are made each year. For at least four years, Cherie Taylor, a dedicated teacher at College Hill, has worked with us to provide her students with the necessary training so they can serve as Salmon Watch field trip instructors.

This year, College Hill students taught on three trips. This is a win-win-win experience. The elementary kids see the high schoolers as role models, the high schoolers get a rare chance to develop their leadership skills and adult volunteers are role models for the teens.

According to College Hill senior Jesse Martin, "I learned a lot more about the directions I can take to make a difference in the world!...[This experience] really showed me how motivation, perseverance, and a deep care for our natural resources can lead to a fulfilling, meaningful job."

The Steering Committee

Since 2010, the Linn Benton Salmon Watch steering committee has coordinated field trips for students in the mid-Willamette Valley. Currently, committee members represent South Santiam Watershed Council, Calapooia Watershed Council, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, Siuslaw National Forest, a retired teacher, and Benton Soil and Water Conservation District. We coordinate in the scheduling of our filed trips and collaborate to hold volunteer trainings, fundraisers, volunteer celebrations, and special events like this year's Salmon Watch Family Day.

Some of the recent successes of our collaboration include a grant from Special Districts Association of Oregon for wilderness first aid supplies and 2-way radios, fundraising to support interns, and a grant this year from Pacific Power Foundation to hire short-term volunteer coordinator, Doug Van Anda.

Aside from the funding each of the partner organizations contributes for the time their staff invest in Salmon Watch, our partners at Siuslaw National Forest purchase supplies ranging from spherical densiometers to nitrile gloves and ODFW pays for Salmon Watch t-shirts.

We receive an annual donation from the Trout Unlimited Bluebacks Chapter. The Corvallis School District has been known to contribute funds to support the program as well. 

Some of our community partners support Salmon Watch by allowing their staff to volunteer on our trips. Whether these groups are allowing them to take personal time or paying them for their service, we thank: Bureau of Land Management, Greenbelt Land Trust, Institute for Applied Ecology, Marys River Watershed Council, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, USDA Forest Service, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, US Fish and Wildlife Service, Oregon State University, and OSU Extension Service.

If you would like to play a larger role in the Salmon Watch community, we invite you to attend next year's Family Day, become a volunteer, or contribute to the effort via this
GoFundMe campaign


Salmon Watch Forebears

Salmon Watch began in 1993 as an effort of Oregon Trout (now The Freshwater Trust). When The Freshwater Trust stepped out in 2010, many collaborative groups came together around the state to continue this important opportunity to introduce Oregon's children to our amazing neighbors, the Pacific Salmon.

With gratitude, I acknowledge the program's forebears, who brought Salmon Watch to students for decades, and inspired the current program leaders, such as myself, to continue this fulfilling effort.

Thank you to the program coordinators I worked with from 2004-2017: Mary Ann Schmidt in Portland, Kim Carson and Jana Seeliger in Benton County. Thank you to the dedicated Salmon Watch teachers who continued to stay involved in Salmon Watch even after retirement: Janice Rosenberg, Pam Wilson, Ron Leonard, Paul Bradley, and Mary Lynn Roush. 

Thank you, Salmon Watch Community!
Share Share
Tweet Tweet
Forward Forward
Copyright © 2021 Benton Soil & Water Conservation District, All rights reserved.

Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.