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NWP Global Registry of Apprentice Ecologists - Nisqually Reservation, Washington, USA

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Nisqually Reservation, Washington, USA
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Registered: December 2010
City/Town/Province: Mount Vernon
Posts: 1
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Salmon Enhancement with the Nisqually Tribe

As a senior at Mount Vernon High School in Mount Vernon Washington, a member of our Skagit Valley community and an Apprentice Ecologist, I have learned I can make a difference protecting our natural resources. I have also learned we all have something to contribute, regardless of our age, culture, background or income level.

I was drawn to the Apprentice Ecologist Initiative because I love the outdoors and all that it has to offer. I have grown up along the banks of the Skagit River and like to hike, fish and canoe. There is nothing I like more than fishing off of my dock and boat during the local salmon runs. My favorite community projects have been those that connect me to the outdoors, including designing and building trails on Little Mountain with the Mount Vernon Trail Builders, enhancing our rivers and streams by planting trees along the banks of the waterways, and taking a recently adopted foster child out to catch his first fish. Last year I took AP Environmental Science and this year I am in AP Biology. I wished to have some hands on experience to build on my love of the outdoors and all I had learned in the classroom.

For my Apprentice Ecologist Project, I wanted to focus on our threatened salmon population and take the initiative to help protect and enhance our salmon runs. This fall I volunteered at the Nisqually Tribe Hatchery where I sorted the male and female fish and helped to fertilize 2,500 Chinook salmon eggs. I was fortunate to work directly with the Nisqually Tribe’s Chief Enhancement Biologist, Bill St. Jean. The Nisqually people have traditionally lived off of the lands and rivers, sustaining their families through the protection of their natural ecosystem. Mr. St. Jean and the other members of the Nisqually Department of Natural Resources have taken the initiative to protect and enhance their waterways and serve as leaders and partners with others in restoring salmon habitat.

In January of 2010 the Nisqually tribe partnered with soldiers and biologists at nearby Fort Lewis to accomplish much needed restoration work on Muck Creek. In September of 2010, just before my volunteer experience, the Nisqually Tribe hosted the first Washington State Tribal Summit on Natural Resources. Native American Indian Tribal leaders from throughout Washington attended to share ideas and exchange information among themselves and State of Washington land managers.

It was against this backdrop that I was able to join the Nisqually Tribe in their fish enhancement project. We worked all day together, harvesting eggs and sperm from decaying fish, fertilizing the eggs that would develop into adult Chinook salmon, and returning the carcasses to the Nisqually people for their diet, the enrichment of the soil and a source of food for the eagles.

From my experience with the Nisqually Tribe I learned our fish populations are dwindling at an alarming rate and our fish hatcheries play a vital role in conserving our wild salmon population. I now have a greater appreciation for the important role of hatcheries and the need to protect and conserve our natural resources. I also learned about the important role salmon hold in the Native American culture. I also have a much better understanding about the need for partnerships in protecting our natural resources.

I will take with me to college these lessons together with my strong work ethic and determination. I know I will need both. I will also take to college my love of the outdoors and my education and leadership experiences at Mount Vernon High School, including volunteering for two years as a LINK Leader in our freshman mentoring program, serving as Vice-President of Latin Club, participating in Outdoor Leadership Club and governing for two years as an ASB Senator. As Senator I have learned the importance of reaching collective decisions and serving as a voice for many. One of my favorite leadership activities has been my role as the public relations manager of Honors Science Club. It has been exciting to make science come alive with hands-on projects like creating a vacuum operated ping pong maze that spans the foyer of the third floor of our science building. I am fortunate to have been provided with these opportunities and such a rich science education at Mount Vernon High School.

Thank you for encouraging me to become an Apprentice Ecologist and for providing me and other students opportunities to connect with, and protect, the natural world around them. I look forward to attending college in the fall, studying to become a fish biologist.
Date: December 30, 2010 ∑ Views: 6625 ∑ File size: 23.5kb, 2080.5kb: 2592 x 1944 ∑
Hours Volunteered: 96
Volunteers: 12
Authors Age & Age Range of Volunteers: 17 & 17 to 70
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