School’s out:Salmon released from class

By Shelby Stewart
Staff Writer
Last month a fish tale ended for a school.
On May 2, Peggy Miller-Zelinko performed her annual project with her 5th grade class to raise salmon.
“I started this program five years ago with the students of Brandon Academy,” said Miller-Zelinko. “This year I am teaching at Harvey Swanson and this is the first year for fifth graders.”
Starting in November, the class is given eyed eggs by the DNR, who designed the program. They then raise the salmon until May when they become smolts. At the smolt life stage, named for the process of smoltification, the salmon are beginning to learn to adapt between fresh water and salt water. Salmon are one of the only fish that can transition between both types of water according to the National Park Service. The Ortonville Rotary club has funded the project for the last five years.
“Daily the students record the temperature, nitrates, nitrites, chlorine, pH, hardness and alkalinity,” said Miller-Zelinko. “They have weekly lessons regarding water, the Great Lakes, fish cycles and make observations. We release the fish in the Clinton River hoping they can find their way to the ocean.”
She says that her students love the program, and that it teaches them about the life cycle of fish and problem solving.
“ It is interesting and challenging to keep the fish alive,” she said. “The students feel bad when a fish dies , but they have to figure out why and resolve the problem. We are grateful to the Rotary club who have partnered and sponsored this program each year.”