Understanding the Time Commitment
So You Want to Raise Salmon in Your School?
Before you jump in with both feet, it might be a good idea to measure your willingness (and perhaps the support of your school and students) for this project. Here are some important things to consider.
It is important that teachers involved in Salmon in the Classroom are fully aware of their responsibilities and the commitment required for participation in the program, which begins in the fall and ends in May. Read an article from Hartland Schools that explains the experience.
Salmon are a living resource and should be cared for in an ethical and appropriate manner. For example, if a teacher is not available to care for the fish for any length of time, it is their responsibility to find an interim replacement to care for the fish. Aquariums should be cleaned on a regular basis to ensure good water quality and healthy habitat for salmon to grow and flourish.
Teachers should understand that it is a privilege to raise salmon in their classroom. This program gives students a unique opportunity to learn about conservation, natural resources and how they can take an active role in becoming stewards of our natural resources. The DNR expects all educators participating in this program to ensure the health of the resource and to promote good stewardship. Schools that do not comply may not be issued permits in the future.
Time Commitment: This is not a one-month project. You must pick up your fish eggs in the fall and care for the developing fish until you release them in the spring. This is a school-year-long commitment!
Expense: The cost of the aquarium, chiller and other materials may run $1,000 or more, money which is not provided by the DNR. Many schools partner with local conservation or sport fishing organizations or raise their own funds.
Paperwork: Each aquarium of fish must be associated with a Scientific Collectors Permit, for which you must apply only AFTER being accepted into the program. You also must file a brief Stocking Report at year's end regarding the number of fish released (stocked) in Michigan waters and how many students participated this school year. Once you've applied and been accepted for this permit it will automatically be mailed out to you each October, as long as your Stocking Report was returned and completed.
Travel: Eggs must be picked up at a DNR weir or fish hatchery. In addition, first time participating educators must attend a free one-day workshop in November at the Wolf Lake State fish hatchery or Oden State fish hatchery or at a possible upper penisula location. Finally, you must schedule a class field trip to release your fish in a nearby, pre-approved body of water.
Aquarium Maintenance: Aquariums must be cleaned once a week to ensure clean and healthy habitat.
Still Not Sure?
Contact a program coordinator and keep reading. There is a lot of information on the website which may help you better understand the logistics of the program and give you a better understanding of the year-long process.
You can also contact a nearby participating school at our All Participating Schools link to find a school that you can e-mail, call or visit to learn about their experience with the program and to ask if they would like to mentor you through your first year.