On May 4 and 5, about 4,000 students from schools in Benton and Franklin counties flocked to the east end of Columbia Park in Kennewick. They were there to release the salmon they'd raised into the Columbia River as part of the Salmon in the Classroom program and to attend Salmon Summit. Each of the mostly fourth- and fifth-grade classes visited eight learning stations during their visit. There were 80 stations focusing on water, salmon, and other environmental science topics.
One station featured Community Outreach and Environmental Education Specialists Ginger Wireman and Erika Holmes from Ecology’s Nuclear Waste Program, one of the regulators of the Hanford Nuclear Reservation cleanup. They shared presentations with roughly 400 students and 30 chaperones and teachers. Wireman has presented at Salmon Summit for 10 years both with Ecology and as a Washington State University Water Resources Specialist. Holmes’ experience includes pairing Eastern Washington University college students with a local conservation group to create outreach materials about endangered species in Washington.
“The students, teachers, and chaperones were all a pleasure to work with, and they asked a lot of great questions,” Holmes said. “I hope to work with many more by increasing Ecology’s presence in schools throughout the area.”Modeling cleanup methods
Watching a Hanford-specific groundwater model in action, students saw how plumes of groundwater contamination look, how they occur at Hanford, and how techniques like pump and treat, apatite sequestration, and biostimulation have helped to reduce the 80 square miles of groundwater contaminated above federal and state drinking water standards.
Not just nuclear waste
The Benton and Franklin Conservation Districts — sponsors of local Salmon in the Classroom programs — searched the region for presenters to cover all the stations. Professionals came from as far away as Spokane, including Ecology's own Brook Beeler and Kendra Robinson-Harding who presented on water quality and air quality.
Wireman attended the Summit as a chaperone with her daughter's fifth-grade class the second day. “I've known many of the people in the environmental education community for years. It was nice to finally get to see all these amazing 'non-formal' educators in action.”
Sign up your class for free classroom outreach by contacting Ginger Wireman (372-7935), and don’t miss our web pages made just for kids. More photos of the event are available from the Tri-City Herald and Pasco School District.