At FISHBIO, we value helping our local communities connect with the natural world that we are fortunate to study, as well as helping people understand changes happening in their environment. As a result, we have been very active in a wide variety of community outreach programs and events throughout our history. We believe these opportunities can help citizens learn more about their local wildlife, the environments in which they live, or allow them to become better environmental stewards themselves. Outreach activities can also let students and the public engage with science in a hands-on way to generate the excitement and interest needed to pursue a fisheries career path.
One way to drum up excitement about our native species is by organizing festivals that celebrate the migration of key species in our local rivers. FISHBIO has participated in both the Stanislaus River and Oroville Salmon Festivals that celebrate the return of fall-run Chinook salmon to the rivers of the Central Valley. These events are a great way to help educate the public about the status of salmon runs on both the Stanislaus and Feather Rivers, and get people invested in their conservation. Both of these events allow visitors to have an up-close and personal experience with the fish while they ascend the ladder at the hatchery on the Feather River, or by watching salmon hold on their redds via the Salmon Cam at the Stanislaus River festival. Both are annual events, with the Stanislaus River Salmon Festival next scheduled for November 12th, so remember to save the date and drop by and see us.
We are also proud to regularly participate in the California Coastal Cleanup Day, which is organized by the California Coastal Commission to control ocean pollution at the source by removing waste and refuse from rivers before it heads out to sea. Our most recent endeavor in 2015 organized all three of our California offices to assist with the cleanup effort. The most shocking result of the day came from the cleanup along the Stanislaus River, near our Oakdale office, which removed an estimated 40 tons of refuse along only 0.15 miles of river bank. From shopping carts and traffic cones to bottles and cans, our team of at the Chico office has repeatedly made a significant impact in cleaning up the Feather River as well. And our staff at the Santa Cruz office took to the beach in a last ditch effort to reclaim litter before it washes out to sea. These efforts were not accomplished alone, however, and we would like to again thank all the volunteers who helped to make a real impact in their community.
Our third major outreach effort is our Three Rivers Education Program. The goal of this program is to connect students with the fish encountered in the Sacramento, San Joaquin and Mekong River basins. Children are given special presentations about the lifecycles of the important species found in their local rivers, be it the anadromous fishes of California or the potadromous Mekong Giant Catfish. We have used this platform as a cross-cultural learning program, uniting students from both Laos and California by learning about each other’s native species and exchanging letters. As scientists, we believe it’s important to devote some of our time to education because communicating ideas effectively is an essential component of the scientific process, and teaching young students helps us improve our own communication skills. We hope that these moments we spend in the classroom have led to inspiring a future generation of scientists.
At FISHBIO, we regularly interact with our community through a number of other avenues, from helping to inspire young women in science to leading outings with young groups of 4-Hers or FFAers, and recent outings with a class from Chico State. And of course the FISHBIO Salmon Run, the centerpiece of our FISHBIO Turns 10 series, is an important part of our connection to Big Chico Creek and the Chico community. Now in its third year, the Salmon Run was originally conceived to raise awareness about the native migratory species found in Chico Creek, primarily the Spring-run Central Valley Chinook salmon and steelhead. The event itself is a great way for a family to get outside and enjoy a day in Lower Bidwell Park, alongside the creek itself. We hope you can join us tomorrow, September 24, for this fun day in the park to celebrate the connection of wildlife and community, as well as FISHBIO’s 10 years of research, monitoring, conservation, and community connections.