Fun with Fish

George Kautsky, Deputy Director of the Hoopa Valley Tribal Fisheries Department teaches Hoopa Elementary School students about fish identification and stages of life./Photo by Allie Hostler, Two Rivers Tribune

HOOPA, CA – As the spring salmon begin their run to their spawning grounds in the Klamath and Trinity River Watersheds, the Klamath-Trinity Fish Fair made its 9th annual run in the rivers’ schools and communities. This year’s Fair, which was held on June 3rd at schools in Willow Creek, Hoopa, and Orleans, focused on the theme “Take only what you need.”

Each year the Klamath-Trinity Fish Fair offers a wide array of spectacle, fun, and education, and this year was no exception. Each school hosted a wide variety of educational presentations, watershed-related activities, and community luncheons. The 2011 event featured 46 separate lectures, demonstrations and activities presented by 97 experts, educators and community members. Students attending the Fair this year numbered over 900, with Trinity Valley Elementary, Hoopa Elementary, Hoopa High, Weitchpec Elementary, Orleans Elementary and Junction Elementary Schools all in attendance.

At Trinity Valley Elementary School in Willow Creek Fair-goers were treated to a presentation of live aquatic insects by Tim Hayden of the Yurok Tribe, a discussion of local sturgeon populations and a build-it-yourself watershed model directed by USFS Fisheries Biologist Andrea Collins, and an exploration of native design led by Clara Clark, among many other offerings.

Hoopa Elementary and High School presentations ranged from watershed restoration, recycling, native fitness games and local geology to fish dissections, live raptor demonstrations, and a tour of the Hoopa Valley Tribe Wildland Fire Station. Some presenters came far to be at the Fish Fair, and of particular note at Hoopa was guest key note speaker and presenter Caleen Sisk-Franco, a spiritual leader of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe. Sisk-Franco spoke to students on the topic “Water is Sacred”.

Local presenters included the Hoopa Valley Tribes’ Fisheries and Wildlife Program staff that discussed local ecology and conservation, Hoopa Museum director Silishtawn Jackson taught students about Hoopa culture. Numerous members of the AmeriCorps Watershed Stewards Project did everything from leading fish-related games to talking about native freshwater mussel populations. Kristin Freeman, Kim Yerton Memorial Hoopa Branch librarian, was also recognized at the fair for her many years of dedication and service to our community.

On the Klamath River, students from Junction Elementary School in Somes Bar also joined Orleans Elementary students to learn about “Leaving No Trace” with Becky Bacon and Sereena King, and bird watching with Hope Woodward all from the USFS Orleans District. Additional presentations included the identification of live native fish from the Karuk Tribe Fisheries Program, Sonny Mitchell and Hawk White, also students enjoyed lively interactive fish games with Blue Lake’s Dell’ Arte troupe.

In addition to gaining knowledge, students at all three locations had the opportunity to enjoy Frank and Francis Fish, Bigfoot and Smokey the Bear. Students also dressed up in animal costumes inside a giant fish-shaped tent, and made bright, Japanese-style fish-prints.

Since 2002, Fish Fair has been held annually in the Klamath and Trinity River communities and has become one of the largest educational events in Humboldt County, spreading environmental and cultural awareness to the region’s youth. Recently hired Klamath-Trinity Joint Unified School District Superintendent, Mike Reid said “I am very proud to be a part of this community working with so many people who voluntarily participate in teaching our youth the importance of protecting and improving the world around us.”


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