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Firsthand Learning: Students from Pilot Butte Middle School explore the Metolius fisheries 

Students from Pilot Butte Middle School explore the Metolius fisheries.

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Recently, the doors to the world were opened wider for 32 students from Molly Grove's 6th-grade class at Pilot Butte Middle School as they explored the ecosystem of the Metolius River - thanks to the efforts of Salmon Watch, an education program within The Freshwater Trust's Healthy Waters Institute.

James Bartlett, PGE fisheries biologist (AKA a "fish-squeezer") was ready for the first group of students eager to learn more about the fish that ply the Metolius. About 100 yards upriver, Larry Morse, water quality specialist for the City of Redmond was preparing his tools for teaching the students about the chemistry and quality of the river waters.

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To round out the team of teachers, Matt Schinderman, biology professor at the OSU Cascade Campus provided the students an opportunity the see, feel and learn about macro-invertebrates of the Metolius. When he asked the students about the role of invertebrates in the river, 6th-grader Jesslyn responded, "To keep the river clean of debris, and provide prey for fish."

Aaron Maxwell, biologist with the Deschutes River Conservancy presented the role of the riparian zone (plant life on the banks of the river) and how vital this sensitive zone is to the welfare of river, fisheries and surrounding ecosystem.

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Since 1993, Salmon Watch has been conducting award-winning environmental education programs that serve over 90,000 middle and high school students throughout Oregon. Salmon Watch is coordinated in Central Oregon through a unique partnership between The Freshwater Trust and the Upper Deschutes Watershed Council. This fall, Salmon Watch invited local students to witness spawning salmon at Riverside Campground on the Metolius River between October 6th and 16th.

When asked about the inherent value of Salmon Watch, Education Coordinator Kolleen Yake recently said, "Students who learn about the Metolius River by walking in and alongside its sparkling waters begin to develop their own unique connection to it. Through hands-on learning activities, Salmon Watch invites students to uncover the magic of the Metolius and its magnificent spawning salmon."

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