Hatchery goes fishing for volunteers

August 17, 2010

By Kirsten Johnson

John Springer (right), a FISH master docent, shows a display exhibiting five stages in salmon egg growth to visitors. Contributed

Attention Issaquah: In just a few weeks, Issaquah’s very own chinook and coho salmon will begin arriving back in their home waters of Issaquah Creek to spawn after a long journey from the ocean.

During this busy season, the Friends of the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery are asking for help from anyone interested in volunteering as a FISH docent.

Docents work as guides from mid-September until December, leading tours and educating hatchery visitors seven days a week, especially Monday thru Friday. Visiting groups include members of the public and many groups of grade-school children from local elementary schools.

Beverly Lee, volunteer coordinator for FISH, said that the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery is the most heavily trafficked hatchery in the state.

“There is a lot going on at the hatchery in the fall,” she said. “The docents are there to tell people what is happening. They educate visitors about salmon that are returning, and also talk about the environment and about keeping it clean and uncluttered.”

Each September, the hatchery typically takes on about 60 docents. The schedule and time commitment involved is at the discretion of the individual volunteer.“We try to encourage docents to volunteer five to six hours per month to stay active, which is just one to two hours per week,” Lee said. “But we have some volunteers that put in 20 to 30 hours just because they like doing it so much.”

New docents will volunteer alongside noted members of the local community, like Issaquah Mayor Ava Frisinger and City Councilwoman Eileen Barber.

“Volunteering as a docent is for those people who want to get involved and do something to support the natural environment,” Lee said. “You get to educate people about what’s going on in Issaquah.”

Besides giving tours, docents have the opportunity to help with other events at the hatchery, including the Salmon Days Festival, classroom presentations and birthday parties.

“We are unique in that not all of the country has salmon returning,” Lee said. “Volunteers get to learn about the Northwest salmon and then connect with people from the greater community.”

Get involved

New docents must attend one day of training, from 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. Sept. 11, that will be held at the hatchery’s Watershed Science Center, 125 W. Sunset Way. Learn more about volunteering at www.issaquahfish.org, or e-mail fishvolunteer@msn.com or call 427-0259.

Kirsten Johnson: 392-6434 or isspress@isspress.com. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.

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