Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Columbia River Watershed Festival

Each year, around this time, a watershed festival is held for students in Clark County. The CRFPO, Clark County, the city of Vancouver, Columbia Springs, and Clark PUD all contribute to making the event a success. We also depend on many other agencies and volunteers to present to the students or help in other ways. The festival is so popular with the teachers that it usually fills up within a week of opening registration. This year we hosted 42 classes of 4th graders during the three day event. Staff from the CRFPO usually guide the classes to their activities or present. This year we were guides or helped in other ways.

One activity we brought our students to was presented by the StreamTeam. They had a short presentation about the life cycle of salmon and things they are doing to improve habitat conditions in Salmon Creek for salmon. Their excitement and enthusiasm about their work easily rubs off on the kids. After their presentation they played a game called "Hooks and Ladders". The kids all wore salmon hats and pretended to be salmon. An obstacle course represented the hurdles salmon face during their migration such as dams, fishermen, predatory wildlife, waterfalls, and fish ladders. If they made it through all of the obstacles, one final task awaited them. For their journey to be complete, the students had to carry some marbles in a spoon (representing their eggs) to the finish line. At any point if they did not make it through any one of the obstacles, they became a dead fish. They soon found out how difficult the journey of salmon can be. It is a great learning tool and fun too!

Another presentation we sat in on was the storyteller Will. He tells wonderful tales of how important the wetlands are and what may happen if they are not there. He engages the students by choosing a few to act out the parts of the wetland or bog, upstream, and downstream.

A really big hit was the reptile presentation. The presenter started out with a small black and red snake and then went to a larger boa constrictor and then to an albino snake called a banana snake. She also showed several lizards, an alligator and a large turtle and explained what they eat and how much. One important message the students took away with them was that noone should get a pet, exotic or not, without first thoroughly researching the animal's needs.

Another activity was presented by Clark Public Utilities. A short presentation about electricity, how it is can be generated, and its impacts on fish and wildlife was followed by the game of Jeopardy. The kids really enjoyed sharing their new found knowledge. The teams were named "Volts" and "Mega-Watts". There was definitely a lot of teamwork and a friendly air of competition. On this day, Meg-Watts won by a whopping 2000 well, mega-watts.

Anyway a great event as always. We can't wait till next year and neither can the kids.

Submitted by Ruby Bourne and Donna Allard

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