Not every 16-year-old kid knows how to work with spawning salmon, incubate a freshwater fish egg, rear the juveniles and then release them into a river or bay.
Yet quite a large number of teenagers in Clatsop County have learned exactly that in the past several decades thanks to hatchery programs at both Astoria and Warrenton high schools.
In these programs, science isn’t found only in textbooks, but in real-life examples.
“A lot of the kids are really craving that. …They want to see and experience it,” said Lee Cain, a science teacher at Astoria High School. “Once they get up close and personal with living organisms, a lot of kids are really hooked.”
Cain teaches the aquatic biology program at Astoria High.
The program began on a much smaller scale in the early 1970s, when teacher Eldon Korpela began working with students to rear salmon eggs in buckets, Cain said.
Now the program has a classroom, a data lab, a research lab and a wet lab, as well as tanks and ponds.
Students can take semester-long fisheries biology and marine biology classes.