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Earthwatch Research Team at the end of the project

by Patricia Green, Earthwatch Teacher Fellow, Washington

I cannot believe that our stay here is almost over. The last evening we had a "debriefing" meeting. Dr. Liebow asked us what parts of the experience were most helpful, and how we would take the experience and information back to our classrooms. Here are some reflections and ideas that teachers shared:

  • The most memorable experiences were the interviews and contacts with the area's Native Americans. Although much has been taken away from them, the Indian tribes in the Skagit area have held onto values that are enviable and rare.
  • I was amazed to hear the interviewees' stories, and how the health of the Skagit River has impacted their lives and livelihood. The problems are similar to the bay area near where I live in Delaware. Although instead of salmon, it is the horseshoe crab that is threatened by overharvesting and development. My students are going to practice interviewing skills.
  • The Skagit River watershed is very similar to the Columbia River near where my school is in Vancouver, Washington. It will be helpful to compare and contrast the two rivers. Perhaps we will learn some lessons to help rebuild the health of the Columbia River.
  • The last two weeks opened my eyes to the crucial role salmon plays in the river ecosystems of the Northwest. It is really a miracle of a fish. The experience has helped me to develop an idea for a class project on the oral history of farming in my community.
  • No books, videos, or paid guides could have given me such breadth and understanding of salmon habitat issues. I feel a renewed sense of purpose. I am eager for our school to start raising salmon as part of a local project to restore salmon to the Connecticut River Watershed.
We took some group-photo shots and then we all tried to complete any tasks that had to be done before our departure the next morning. I was reluctant to say our goodbyes because this was a great group of people and we really had fun together.

We also had such a warm reception from the people who call the Skagit region their home. It was enriching to listen to their stories, and sense their connectedness to the river and the land.

Photos courtesy of Earthwatch