Salmon Watch

Salmon Watch is a hands-on based curriculum centered around salmon ecology. Local middle and high school students are given the opportunity to engage in field-based activities along the McKenzie and Siuslaw River to learn about water quality, riparian ecology, fish biology, and macro-invertebrates. The goal of Salmon Watch is to provide students with a holistic, hands-on approach to environmental education that allows them to engage with the environment they’re learning about firsthand. Below, you can see some of the activities students participate in as a part of the program:

Salmon Watch: A Closer Look

Meet the Volunteers & Educators:

Volunteers are an integral part to the success of Salmon Watch and this program could not run without them. All volunteers come from diverse backgrounds whether it be in local government agencies and utility companies, outdoor sporting groups, retired teachers, recent graduates, or college students. One thing all volunteers have in common is a passion for environmental health and restoration and passing this knowledge onto the next generation. Below, you can hear from a few of the volunteers and educators that make this program possible:

Justin Demeter

Education Coordinator

Justin, the Mckenzie Watershed Council education coordinator, started out working for a civil engineer when an old classmate asked him to come talk to students about plants. Since then, he’s been hooked (no pun intended, he says). Fast forward and Justin has now been working as the Mckenzie Watershed Council’s education coordinator for the past five years and been involved with Salmon Watch for eight. His favorite part is getting to see the students that really connect with the curriculum. One student, he remembers, stood out to him in particular, giving him a thank you card that read:

“Thank you for teaching us about the outdoors. I told my parents about what you taught us and it blew their minds. Someday I want to be like you.”

Moments like those are what make volunteering and educating worth it for Justin. “Just the idea that we can connect with at least one, maybe two students a day that are going to see what’s happening here, be inspired, and become that next generation of environmental stewards. I think that’s my favorite part.” –Justin

Bob Bumstead

Retired Education Professor

Bob Bumstead is a retired education professor and avid fly fisher. He  taught for 33 years in Eugene and at Pacific University as a professor for 15 years. He is one of the current council partners with the Mckenzie Watershed Council and volunteers as an educator for Salmon Watch. His goal is teach students about the riparian area through a holistic perspective that emphasizes the importance of understanding and relating to the natural world and how that can affect your mental health. One of his favorite things to do is read the kids original poems he wrote about our physical and mental connection to the natural world. One of the most memorable moments from Salmon Watch for him are the letters he gets from students.

“Often these kids will write notes to the teachers. And these notes are just wonderful, especially wen they say, ‘I understand exactly what you’re talking about, the pull of the natural world.’ I go ‘oh yeah, so that kid understood. That’s good”. But often, just seeing these kid’s faces light up in that they understand, I mean that’s the call of teaching so that’s awesome”–Bob



Ron Leonard

Retired Science Teacher

Ron Leonard is a retired science teacher from Eugene and in his 12 years of being a middle school teacher had taken some of his students of Salmon Watch field trips. The Salmon Watch program was founded in 1993 by Oregon Trout, which later became The Freshwater Trust (TFT). Since then, the program has educated tens of thousands of students over the last 20 years, but was unfortunately discontinued at the end of 2010. Thankfully, Salmon Watch has continued on in different counties due to a several passionate people dedicated to keeping it going. One of those people is Ron, who took on a leadership role when TFT no longer organized the trips. Now, Ron volunteers for Salmon Watch teaching riparian ecology. He understands the importance of this program in that not all kids will have the opportunity to participate in it:

“Many of these kids have never really had the opportunity to be in the outdoors like this. So, getting them out of the classroom and into the real world is what’s important. They get the experience of being out here and getting some skills that they wouldn’t otherwise get.”–Ron