Hatchery calls for volunteers to fill Aug. 24 training class

August 6, 2013

By Peter Clark

As the salmon return every year, so does the need for volunteers at the hatchery.

On Aug. 24, Friends of the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery will host the annual volunteer class to initiate new recruits into public educators on the subject of the salmon life cycle.

The Issaquah Salmon Hatchery operates around the year with only two paid employees. Beverley Lee, Friends of the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery volunteer coordinator, said those who dedicate their time keep the local institution running.

Though many sign up to assist, and there are about 60 active volunteers, she added that the hatchery could always use more help.

“We have a number of volunteer positions,” Lee said. “But the ones that I need the most are those to lead tours.”

Between the months of July to November, Lee said more than 4,000 people make their way through the tours at the hatchery including school groups, senior citizen groups and everything in between. The tours give the basics of the salmon life cycle. Volunteers provide that information, shepherding the interested visitors through the facilities where eggs are harvested, hatched and grown.

Along with leading tours, volunteers work at the hatchery gift shop, bring salmon exhibits to science fairs, maintain the facility’s aquarium and assist workers during spawning season.

“Because there are only two employees in the grounds, it’s needless to say on spawning days, they need help,” Lee said. “It would be impossibly for them to do all of the work.”

And of course, they’re instrumental to one of Issaquah’s most important celebrations of the year.

“And of course, we’re here at Salmon Days,” she said. “We have volunteers on the ground, ready to answer questions.”

Hatchery volunteers have also won many ribbons for constructing and presenting floats in the annual Salmon Days Parade.

Michael Oakley has volunteered with the Issaquah Hatchery for over a year and has found the experience very rewarding.

“I’ve had a blast,” Oakley said. “I was interested in doing it and had a little trepidation about remembering all the facts. It’s amazing how fast you pick it up.”

He has led tours and exhibited salmon dissection at science fairs.

“You get kids that act like they’re not into it,” he said. “As it goes along, they get really, really into it. At the science fairs, boys are a little more squeamish than the girls.”

Oakley said that he enjoys educating the community and delights in the appreciation that is shown.

“The cards and drawings you get from kids to thank you for the tour are just amazing,” he said. “I have a lot of fun doing it.”

To register for the Aug. 24 class, fill out a volunteer interest form at issaquahfish.org/get-involved. All ages are welcome, though only those over 16 can lead tours.

“It’s right at the door for our salmon season,” Lee said of the class. “From then until the end of November, it’s very, very busy.”


what to know

Annual volunteer class

  • Aug. 24
  • issaquahfish.org/get-involved
  • volunteer@issaquahfish.org
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