Issaquah Salmon Hatchery hosts Fulbright scholars

June 5, 2012

By Christina Corrales-Toy

For Issaquah School District students, learning about the lifecycle of a salmon is just a part of the regular curriculum.

But for nearly 20 Fulbright scholars from all around the world, their May 30 visit to the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery represented a true introduction to the fish at the heart of Pacific Northwest culture.

The scholars were in town as part of the “From Lab to Market” seminars, held in Seattle this year. The visit, designed for Fulbright scholars studying in the science and technology fields, encourages students to explore how to apply their studies to benefit global communities. The trip includes introductions to scientific innovators and experts, as well as exposure to the culture of the host city.

The hatchery was chosen as a visiting site because of its work in preserving the salmon population through innovative techniques, according to Randy Harrison, a Friends of the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery master docent.

“One of the things these seminars aim to do is show the students sustainable efforts in preserving the environment,” he said. “What we’re doing here is taking development and the natural environment and trying to make them work together, as opposed to competing.”

Darin Combs, hatchery manager, welcomed the students with a presentation about the salmon lifecycle and the hatchery’s work.

After the presentation, the scholars broke into groups and toured the hatchery, led by trained FISH docents.

Throughout the presentation and tour, the Fulbright scholars seemed engaged and curious. The students asked questions, took pictures and thought critically about methods to preserve the salmon.

Combs said it was an honor to host the group and hopes it will inspire the scholars in their future studies.

“If they can come away with an idea or two in the area of conservation that they can take back with them and use, that’d be great,” he said. “Also, hopefully they take back a sense of our commitment here that we have and our culture here in the Northwest.”

Miguel Robles Lora, a Fulbright scholar from the Dominican Republic, attends Virginia Tech and studies civil engineering. He enjoyed the visit to the hatchery and the opportunity to learn new things.

“I didn’t know that salmon could be produced other than in a natural way,” he said. “Even though I’m not directly involved in the fishing industry, it’s very interesting to learn about new things not necessarily associated with my major.”

Harrison was one of the volunteer guides who took the group around the hatchery. He said he was amazed by the group’s interest and understanding of the salmon lifecycle.

“The volunteer experience here is wonderful with everybody that visits, but the thing that is really great is when you get people from overseas,” he said. “For a lot of these folks, the salmon hatchery is really a new concept and so it’s really, really fun to see them kind of process the information and put it in the context of their personal experience.”

Students from developing countries in Asia, Africa, Latin America, the Caribbean and the Middle East made the trip. The Fulbright program is a government-funded international educational exchange program with the goal to promote mutual understanding between the United States and people from other nations.

Christina Corrales-Toy: 392-6434, ext. 241, or isspress@isspress.com. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.

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