When participants thanked my camera for being there, I said, “Wouldn’t miss it for the world!”
It was the annual Vaughn Elementary release of salmon fingerlings into Vaughn Creek last month. What a blast it always is! This was the largest attendance I’ve witnessed over the years, and kids and parents were as thrilled and excited as all other years combined.
Fifth-grader Braydon Nighbor wrote: “All kindergarten and first grade classes came with my class to release salmon. We walked to Mr. James Bosch’s property and a beautifully shimmering creek. The mud was begging you to step in it and get your foot stuck.”
The creek was much larger and faster flowing than in any previous year thanks to the unusually high rainfall levels we’ve been enduring.
“Teacher Doug Smith got Chum salmon as eggs January 5; they hatched January 26,” said young Nighbor. “We released the salmon and named them as we let them go. My salmon blended in with the terrain like a blade of grass in a jungle. I learned how salmon can travel any distance on earth and come back to where they hatched. I chaperoned three first-grade boys and remembered when in kindergarten I went to the creek.”
Anne Shipp said, “I learned they live in the creek for a year, then swim to the ocean. They were as shiny as silver coins.”
Emily Price thought they “seemed to wave their tails goodbye as they said, ‘Sayonara.’ Joey was my salmon. Salmon live in an estuary, saltwater and freshwater combined, for a couple weeks then move to the ocean. Next spring Joey will be in the ocean, and if I’m lucky he will come back to our same stream.”
Luis West felt that when he released it “I thought I saw a tear shed from its eye. I liked watching the fish swim away. Fish Are AWESOME!”
Angelo Sim wonders if “someday I’ll see these salmon making their way to the ocean.”
Berlin Jacobson-Immelt writes, “We walked with first-graders and kindergarteners. I like seeing the little kids release salmon. When I released my salmon I named it Star.”
Tanner Karabinos thought the long walk was worth it to see the little fish wave goodbye.
“Hopefully, in February 2020 the salmon will come to their home and lay their eggs,” Tanner said.
Taylor Davis enjoyed watching the salmon dance away and was “grateful Mr. James Bosch let us on his property to release the salmon.”
As Zebedee Leo Smolko released the salmon, “it went down the stream practically waving goodbye.” Chloe Bunce “loved the salmon release because we all got to help. I like the buddies that I got. Both of them I know had a good time. The best thing is when I released them. I could see how excited they were as they danced their way into the water.”
Kindergarteners gave their views, too: “A lot of trees were giant big with water by them,” said Aleah Saxer.
To Brooklyn Ramlo, “There were crystal rocks there and the trees were tallish and beautiful.” Celine Cooley said, “I was bending down and the fish really wanted to go into the water so he flew out. He was a cutey.”
“I dumped the fry out carefully ... very carefully so he didn’t get a headache,” said Charlie Gray. Daniel Miller felt it was a long trip. “I got really tired.”
Eli Franklin was so excited because “I never been on a field trip here.” Georgia Madrid “saw lots of rocks in the pretty water. There were ba-millions of rocks.” Henry Schultz learned the fish “swam into the big creek and then the ocean.”
“The fish becomed invisible in the water. It was magic,” said James Cook. “The fish went swimming and my eyes seed them swim far away,” said Kyan Nickles.
“I put the fry in the water and I wanted to swim, too. But I couldn’t,” said Lilly Hawkins, sadly. “The fish was in the cup wiggling around, and it was excited. The fish jumped cuz he was happy,” declared Max Williamson. “They swimmed away fast ... this direction,” said Xavier Glasco. And Zachary Carnahan asked, “We released the salmon. That was my favorite part. REALLY! Did you know that?”
No, Zachary, I didn’t!
As Zebedee Leo Smolko released the salmon, “it went down stream practically waving goodbye.” Chloe Bunce loved the fact that when she released them, “I could see how excited they were as they danced their way into the water.” Desiree Mick-Hager’s salmon, Desiree Junior, “seemed to be waving goodbye. I decided to help my brother Cruz’s class get to the creek and loved watching the kiddos happily releasing salmon.”
Coleton Valencia learned “salmon come back from the ocean to where they were born; they just have an instinct to get back.” To Marisol Torres-Alcantar, “it was a wonderful sight seeing salmon doing the Meringa and Tango saying goodbye to students.”
Maris Johnson “learned when baby salmon are still in the eggs the little dark spot is the brain, which is also the eye! I loved watching them swimming to their little fishy home. Plus, I loved watching kindergarteners and first-graders releasing salmon and how excited they got when they were handed salmon.”
Noah Romero named his Marlin. “When I released Marlin, he danced in the water and swam happily down the creek to his freedom and his new life.”
To Evan Offutt, “the best thing is watching these majestic fish go on with their lives and soon come back to the creek to lay more of these wonderful fish.”
Nicole Manning got to be “around Mother Nature, help wildlife, have fun, and spend time with friends and maybe even make some new friends!”
And a special thanks to fifth-grader Braydon Nighbor, who collected and wrote the accounts of all the students involved in the big event.
Gives me hope for our nation’s future.
Hugh McMillan is a longtime contributing writer for the Gateway. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.