The Colville Fish Hatchery facility in Colville will continue to host a vocational-style program this fall, allowing area students to learn about raising Rainbow Trout fry for release in local lakes while studying environmental science courses.
The program is available to students in the Colville, Kettle Falls and Chewelah districts, as well as homeschool students. The classes are geared towards 11th and 12th grade students and students can enroll through their home district.
The future of the program was somewhat uncertain after the unexpected passing of key instructor Jono Esvelt last year. Tami Burns, who worked as a long time substitute for the class, has now been hired as the lead instructor. The program has also been transferred from the Kettle Falls School District that was acting as administration for the program to the Colville School District. The program is also run in cooperation with the NEWTECH Skill Center in Spokane that focuses on offering vocational classes to high school students.
Burns said she feels the class offers the opportunity not only for students to be exposed to careers at hatcheries, but other fields in natural science as well.
“I want students to be exposed to careers in this field, not only the hatchery area but also related fields of natural resources, conservation, biology, enforcement, and anything else involving healthy habitats,” she said. “There are many areas within the state Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), for example, that I plan to introduce students to aside from our main topic with fish and the hatchery world.”
Burns said she is working on cultivating relationships with the state Fish and Wildlife Department, the local conservation district and other potential employers, as well as higher education options for students who want to continue their studies.
“Several of our students have gone on to Bellingham Technical College to pursue a two year degree in aquaculture or fisheries resources, which will benefit future endeavors into the fish program with WDFW or any privately run hatchery,” Burns shared. “Jono’s first student to attend this program just finished and has applied for her certificate last week. It is very exciting and we are very proud of her.”
Burns said the program not only exposes students to natural sciences, but can aptly prepare them for careers in the local area.
“Our area is rich in outdoor work. Our students typically want to work outside and our program opens up those doors, or at least windows, into what is possible for them in the professional world that deals with our outdoors,” she explained. “Our class also serves as resumé material for experience in a hatchery setting which employers are looking for in this field. I am contacted often from professionals within WDFW, the Department of Natural Resources, the tribes, and private hatcheries for recommendations of students to work for the summer with positions they are searching to fill.”
Students who enjoy hands-on work can be a great fit for the class, said Burns.
“Our program is great for this. Our program caters to students that learn by doing ‘hands on’ and directly and instantly applying their lessons to the real world. Our students are strong in this type of learning and I am excited to support them,” she said.
For more information about the program, visit their Facebook page under “Colville Fish Hatchery.”
-By Jamie Henneman/The Independent Staff