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Student Scientists at Large; Melinda Stahr’s Class visits SPAWN

Last week, Melinda Stahr’s class from Corvallis Elementary, made the long haul to visit the Lagunitas Creek Watershed. Coming all the way from San Leandro the kids were full of energy as soon as they stepped off the bus. They were all mentally preparing for trout eggs they will raise in their classroom for the next month. Our goals were to learn about good salmon habitat and get these student scientists dirty with some data collection and restoration.

We started exploring the watershed to learn about Coho salmon habitat and search for spawning fish. There was rain the weekend before but little luck finding fish. The kids did not seem to mind in the slightest. They were exploring cascades and spotting redds across the stream, as we talked about erosion and the importance of large woody debris.

We all loaded up into the bus and headed for the Turtle Island offices for the afternoon. Three stations were set up to show the diversity of work our scientists do in the field. By the end of the day students had reported on their favorite experiences and showed that each station tended to different student interests.

One station was in our native plant nursery where students learned about habitat restoration and were able to help us plant 198 shrub seeds. Students have planned to start a native plant nursery at school that will focus on the Oholone Indians and species they tended.

The next station was biologically analyzing stream health by collecting macro invertebrates. Students put on tall rain boots and waded into the stream to collect invertebrates. They would then identify them and categorize them by tolerance levels. The students each focused on reporting about one invertebrate and collectively as a team they were able to analyze our streams health.

The last station was focusing on the ecosystem as a whole and the species that share this watershed with the coho. Using footage from motion sensitive trail cameras students were able to collect clues about who else lives in this area. Using these clues and by following tracks and scat we searched for animals around our property. The students helped to pinpoint an ideal area to set up the camera, before they left for the day. I wish I could see their reaction to the video we caught that night!

I believe the quality of video we captures is a great representation of the experience we all had that day.