Kulshan Creek Field Trip: The Search for Salmon at Cumberland Creek
Kulshan Creek Neighborhood Youth Program is a year-round educational program that engages young people ages 5 to 18 from two Skagit Valley neighborhoods in a series of monthly field trips to explore the outdoors and learn about our local watersheds.
This post is courtesy of Ellie Price, the Youth Ambassadors and College Access Coordinator. In it she describes a Kulshan Creek outing at Cumberland Creek.
The weather was cold and rainy, but this didn’t stop the intrepid Kulshan Creek crew from having a blast at during their monthly field trip and outing. About eight students, three adults, and four high school volunteers decked themselves out in rain gear and rain boots to brave the weather and check out the salmonids spawning at Cumberland Creek.
We arrived at the Skagit Land Trust’s property to a gentle drizzle and immediately warmed up by playing the Salmon Game. The Salmon Game involves pretending you are a young salmonid that has to swim from the stream you were born in out to sea, circle one of the adult volunteers four times to signify the four years you spend in the ocean, and finally face the host of obstacles blocking you from returning to your original starting point in your home stream. These obstacles included Officer Serrano, who acted as a fisherman and tried to catch the students, and Orlando Garcia who pretended to be a bear chasing after fleeing salmonids. Two high school volunteers also stood arm-in-arm in the middle of the field as a dam, which inhibited the salmonids from reaching their goal.
There was much laughter, running, creativity – and maybe even learning? The goal of the day was to introduce students to the natural wonders in their own backyard, to bring the joys of games and activities to the outdoors and pair them with environmental stewardship and science education.
Cumberland Creek flowing into the Skagit River; photo courtesy of Skagit Land Trust
Once everyone one was warm we got out our maps and made our way through the scattered trails to the Skagit River. Along the way the students and volunteers made use of our walk to clear the trail and give back to the Skagit Land Trust. The students worked together to break branches and throw them off the trail, move brambles and sticker bushes out of the way, and improve the trail for the next group of explorers. Though we made a couple wrong turns and ended up hiking a mile or two extra, we made it to the Skagit River, our goal, and headed back towards the bus. Waiting for us were Skagit Land Trust interpreters and volunteers with snacks, educational materials, and warm tents.
We spent the rest of our time learning from the volunteers and peering into the Cumberland Creek searching for spawning salmonids. None were seen, but fun was had by all. Pictured above are two students learning about how salmonds reproduce with a stuffed salmon and preserved eggs in jars. The Skagit Land Trust volunteers were excellent educators and made learning fun. By this time everyone was hungry and the rain was increasing so we ran for bus and ate our lunch in warmth. It was a fun day outside with a wonderful group of students and volunteers who were not daunted by the weather, but instead made it an adventure.
(Top Photo) Courtesy of Ellie Price