4-H Egg to Fry projects bring ecology to life in 10 Portland metro area schools

A girl is kneeling on the shore of a lake and dropping a fish out of a cup into the water.

Raising salmon and trout eggs in an elementary school classroom is an effective way to enhance a child’s understanding of how vitally important their environment is for their survival, and how people can greatly influence salmon and trout populations. In 2022, Oregon State University Extension Service’s 4-H Youth development Program conducted the 4-H Egg to Fry salmon and trout projects in 10 Portland metro area schools.

4-H provided aquarium tank equipment and supplies and coordinated with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife to pick up the eggs for delivery to the schools. 4-H faculty member Kristen Moore gave each student an egg to view up close and led a discussion about what students hoped to learn, what the eggs need to survive, and what salmon and trout mean to Oregonians.

Students were responsible for daily tank monitoring. They learned how to measure the water’s acidity and ammonia levels, how to clean the tank during egg hatching, and how to keep accurate records of egg and fry mortality. Students kept a fish journal and documented the physical changes.

Moore helped coordinate field trips when the fry were ready to be released into nearby rivers and a lake. Approximately 160 students participated in the salmon project. The partner schools in the Egg to Fry Salmon Project were Metropolitan Learning Center, Portland Waldorf School, St. Rose School, Tucker Maxon School and Laurelhurst Elementary School. Portland Waldorf and Laurelhurst became 4-H partner schools as a result of this project.

In the Egg to Fry Trout Project, 267 students fifth through eighth grades got to experience hands-on learning in their classrooms. Participating in the project were Five Oaks and Meadow Park middle schools in Beaverton and Harrison Park School in Portland. When delivering trout eggs to their classrooms, students shared they had never experienced going to a park and visiting a lake. In response, Moore partnered with Blue Lake Regional Park and the Get Hooked Foundation in Portland to organize a field trip for students to release the trout fry at the park in Fairview.

Prior to releasing the fry, the students met Get Hooked founder Dishaun Berry to learn about different species of trout and how trout are important for our ecosystem. Berry inspired the students by sharing how fishing can be a recreational opportunity all families can enjoy.