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SPAWN’s FREE Summer Salmon Institute for Teachers Highlights the Connection of Local Watersheds to Ocean Health

Marin County, CA- The Salmon Protection and Watershed Network (SPAWN) is offering a unique professional development training in partnership with NOAA’s Bay-Watershed Education and Training (B-WET) program to teachers throughout the San Francisco Bay area for a second year. Focused on salmon as the connection between oceans and inland watersheds, the Summer Salmon Institute combines expert instructors with standards-based curriculum to provide teachers the skills and tools to connect students to their watersheds year-round.

The Summer Salmon Institute consists of a FREE, five-day workshop from July 18-22, 2011. Teachers can also choose to earn up to 3.5 Continuing Education Units (CEU) from an accredited university (Dominican University of California) and stipends are available for educators working in Title One schools.

Classroom and field training are located in beautiful West Marin and include exploring creeks, redwoods, and other wild places within the Lagunitas Creek Watershed. This year the Institute welcomes back several participants from last year to have in-depth discussions about how they implemented watershed experiences for their students. Presentations with natural resource professionals from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Park Service, Marin County Open Space, and Tomales Bay Watershed Council will share expertise in marine and fisheries biology, watershed restoration, and water quality and conservation. Field training in restoration techniques, native plant identification, rainwater harvesting and constructing rain gardens, aquatic invertebrate monitoring, and performing salmon audits at your school will be administered each afternoon. In-depth, standards-based curriculum materials will be distributed daily with a focus on ocean ecology, the natural history of coho salmon, and how water and land-use practices affect the health of inland watershed and coastal marine ecosystems. Last year’s Institute was a huge success and brought over 30 teachers and environmental educators from the Klamath to the San Lorenzo Rivers together to learn about salmon conservation. “I was so inspired by the institute leaders and their dedication to such a cause, it’s motivating for me to bring the ideas back to my school and community” said John Sierra, high school teacher and one of last year’s Institute participants.

“The Salmon Institute supports teachers in drawing the connections for students between our watersheds and ocean ecosystems and trains teachers in effective salmon and watershed restoration and monitoring techniques” said Carrie Sendak, SPAWN’s Watershed Biologist and Institute coordinator. “It will focus on salmon as the headwaters to sea connection but will also provide educators with the tools to develop their own “Meaningful Watershed Experience” to students in their own watersheds. Between the field training and classroom lectures, the Institute will provide an in-depth experience of the issues and actions needed to improve watersheds, oceans, and salmon.”

Salmon populations are in peril throughout the Pacific Coast. Coho salmon along the Central Coast of California are listed as federally endangered under the Endangered Species Act and have become extinct throughout the majority of coastal streams. The Institute will take place in the Lagunitas Creek Watershed in Marin County, just 25 miles from San Francisco, which supports the largest remaining population of the endangered Coho. “Teachers will have an opportunity to view first-hand healthy habitat the salmon need, and also the real threats that are threatening their survival, while learning ways to create experiential learning opportunities for their students in their own watersheds, said Sendak.

The Lagunitas Creek watershed in Marin County contains some of the best remaining spawning and rearing habitat for coho salmon and is just 20 miles north of San Francisco. SPAWN has led habitat restoration, watershed monitoring, environmental education, and grassroots action in this watershed for over ten years.

To receive registration information for the Summer Salmon Institute or get involved with any of the many volunteer activities, contact Carrie Sendak at (415) 663-8590 ×109 during weekday business hours.

* There is a fee for continuing education credits and is paid directly to Dominican University.