In early December, students in the 4th/5th combo class and the 7th grade class at Cascade Canyon Elementary School (Fairfax) joined the Salmon Protection and Watershed Network (SPAWN) at Samuel P. Taylor State Park to see spawning fish and to learn about salmon and redwoods. They also collected the redwood cones which they seeded out in their classroom this January.

Cascade Canyon students collect redwood cones

The 7th grade is learning about nutrient cycling and were amazed to learn that at the end of their life cycle salmon bring nutrients from the ocean back to riparian zones, helping to fertilize plants such as redwood trees. The 4th/5th grade class is learning about native plant communities, and in addition to helping to seed redwoods, their class is growing a variety of pollinator plants. Some of the plants they are growing will go into their own schoolyard. Students will be able to observe germination and growth of the seedlings, and will donate most of the plants to SPAWN at the end of their school year.

Intern Skylar Lipman teaches the basics of ecological restoration

Also in January, all three classes of 4th graders at Glenwood Elementary (San Rafael) participated in seeding out redwoods. About 60 students participated, planting more than 4,000 seeds! Only about one in twelve seeds is viable, so if all goes well these students may grow more than 300 seedlings. Because we collect cones rather than individual seeds, the students were a great help in opening the cones, sometimes with the use of their feet. One fourth grader said that he now knows what he wants to do when he grows up – he wants to grow redwoods! When asked why, he replied, “I want to have a job where I can get dirty.”

Glenwood Elementary students seed redwoods

We will continue seeding redwoods with other partner schools and in the SPAWN nursery each Friday during volunteer days, from 10am to 1pm, over the next few weeks. For questions about volunteering in the nursery or about growing redwoods, please contact Nursery Manager Audrey Fusco via email at

Seeded redwood trays at Cascade Canyon