Salmon in the Classroom program spawns gift to Clark Elementary School

March 6, 2012

By Warren Kagarise

The long-running Salmon in the Classroom program at Clark Elementary School remained afloat due to a donation from a former student.

Issaquah native Jerry Pearson, a Snoqualmie attorney and former Clark Elementary student, said childhood memories of salmon in Lewis Creek and concerns about budget cuts to public schools inspired the donation.

“It’s important for kids to know that the salmon are an important part of the culture in the Northwest,” he said. “They need to know that salmon are so much more than just the logo on posters for Salmon Days.”

Pearson recalled fishing for trout and perch in Lewis Creek as a boy growing up near the south end of Lake Sammamish.

Once, he received a scolding from his mother after he brought home a salmon he pulled from the creek. Until he toured the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery on a school trip, Pearson thought of salmon as little more than “red trout.”

Salmon in the Classroom, as the name suggests, enables students to raise the iconic Pacific Northwest fish from eggs to fry. Then, as the program concludes in the spring, students release the fry into creeks.

The state Department of Fish and Wildlife used to administer the program, but after state lawmakers drained Salmon in the Classroom dollars in 2010, a grassroots effort formed to salvage the popular program.

Statewide, about 500 schools participated in Salmon in the Classroom during a typical year before the budget cuts.

In the months after the state nixed Salmon in the Classroom, the Salmon Education Alliance — a coalition of area educators, fish biologists and program advocates — proposed a system of regional coordinators throughout the state to act as a liaison for schools.

Under a plan hatched last year after state support for Salmon in the Classroom dissolved, Friends of the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery agreed to serve as the coordinator for more than 100 schools.

Salmon eggs for the program at schools in the Issaquah area come from the hatchery.

Pearson said he hopes 5-year-old grandson Dylan can participate in the Clark Elementary fry release near Pickering Barn on March 21.

“That will symbolize our own very personal cycle of life,” Pearson said.

Warren Kagarise: 392-6434, ext. 234, or Comment at

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3 Responses to “Salmon in the Classroom program spawns gift to Clark Elementary School”

  1. Patrick Tiekamp on March 7th, 2012 1:24 pm

    What a wonderful thin to do. I carried posters in regards to Salmon, from the class, that I enjoyed for several years. It is so important that children get the chance. So many memories. Thank You for all the children that now can enjoy the class.
    Pat Tiekamp

  2. Jane Kuechle, Executive Director of FISH on March 7th, 2012 1:45 pm

    Friends of the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery (FISH) is pleased to now be serving as the fiscal agent for the Salmon Education Alliance. Anyone who would like to help and support this program financially can do so by sending a contribution to FISH, 125 West Sunset Way, Issaquah, 98027. Please tell us that you are supporting the Salmon In The Schools program. You can also make a contribution online through our website Our thanks to Jerry Pearson and the Pearson Law Group for stepping up early on and providing financial support. When the state of Washington withdrew funding for this vital program SEA really scrambled to be sure that schools already engaged in this program could continue. FISH committed resources and support for that continuity. In order to continue and expand the program we need your help.

  3. Connie Marsh on March 8th, 2012 5:26 pm

    This is a good thing. We are sending an email out to our group with the info from FISH. Thanks!

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