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An ODFW-STEP volunteer trip delivering trout eggs to schools in Eastern Oregon

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Copyright© 2004 - 2007 by Robert Speik.
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We have just completed the fall Rainbow Trout egg deliveries to local and eastern Oregon schools for incubation in the classrooms. Other Volunteers went to the Oak Springs Hatchery in Maupin to pick up the eggs and brought them back to Bend on Sunday afternoon. Some other volunteers made the deliveries to the local schools.

We packaged the twenty bundles of 200 eggs each in special trays, in coolers, with non chlorinated ice from the hatchery dripping water through them. Special care was taken so that an accumulation of melted ice water would not smother the eggs and they would remain cool enough for delivery over the next four or five days. Of course there was also paperwork for the teachers to sign, special hand outs for the classes, displays etc. to go along with the deliveries. In the class room the eggs are kept in an aquarium with a chiller unit, an aquarium in an old Coke machine or even with plastic jugs frozen and placed in the aquarium to achieve the proper temperature. The students predict the hatching date by keeping careful records of the temperature units they accumulate, records of the mortality rate of the eggs and the fry, and finally, place the fry in a pond or area that has no outlet designated by their district Biologist.

Bob and I set out early Monday morning for the first of our deliveries to 20 schools. This had meant setting up a route and scheduling specific times for each of the schools – we needed to be there during school hours. It was also necessary to have a map with GPS coordinates showing the exact location of each school because some of them had nothing but a P O Box number and, without a map, would have been impossible to find. Many of the smaller schools were in older parts of their town and very hard to find.

The trip this year – we have been doing this for nine years – was just about perfect. It was the only time that the weather was really good to us. Previously we had traveled in rain, icy conditions and even snow in some areas. This time we were able to enjoy the fall colors of the Hood River valley, a warm comfortable drive throughout the 1500 miles, seeing old teacher friends and two new schools. The chance to interact with the kids is a very important part of the trip to us. Bob makes a short presentation to each class wherever possible. We had two new schools to find this year, the high school in Elgin, population 1750 and the grade school in Drewsey, population 22. Actually they are our two new favorites. Helix, in Indian Valley, between the Blue Mountains and the Wallowas, is a tiny seemingly well to do high tech wheat farming and timber industry community and this is apparent in the old three story school building - I believe that it was built about 1890. The young people are proud of the education they are getting and of the school. Nowhere else have we seen such respect for other students and for the teacher. The Drewsey school has two rooms, 12 students in first through eighth grades and two very dedicated teachers. The teachers are making certain that all of the children receive as broad an education as possible.
We traveled from Bend to Mitchell, then on to Mt. Vernon, then drove up through Spray and Condon to two schools in the Hood River area. Then, after seeing a teacher friend and her new school in the Dalles, went along the Columbia River to Hermiston, met the teacher from Milton Freewater and drove up to a new school in Helix the next day. From Helix we went over to Elgin and back down the east side of Oregon through La Grande, Baker City out to Halfway and on to Ontario. We drove through Willow Creek, Vale and back along Highway 20 through Drewsey, Burns and Hines. We didn’t make the trip down to Crane this year.

We returned home on Thursday evening, tired but exhilarated from the adventure and ready to do it again next year if all goes well with the ODFW and with us.
--Margaret "Tommie" Thompson Speik




Read more . . .
ODFW - Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife
STEP - Salmon-Trout Enhancement Program in Oregon

  ODFW volunteer adventures in Oregon:
ODFW - BOW clinic - "Becoming an Outdoors Woman" in Oregon
An ODFW juvenile steelhead sampling project near John Day, Oregon
The ODFW juvenile steelhead survey in the stream

  Photos from an ONDA volunteer wilderness inventory in south eastern Oregon:
Oregon Natural Desert Association - ONDA
Oregon's Owyhee River inventory delivered to BLM
About the Owyhee River wilderness inventory with ONDA
ONDA survey of Owyhee Canyon
Owyhee Canyon Wilderness study area
NOLS adventure in the Owyhee Canyon
Owyhee River desert lands - Jordan Valley Rodeo
Steens Management Plan outsourced to mining proponents
A Steens Mountain adventure
Backpacking Steens Big Indian Gorge     Photos of this trip
A Steens Mountain wedding

  What you need to know for your adventures:
Basic responsibilities of the wilderness traveler
The new Ten Essential Systems
Leave No Trace
Map, compass and GPS together, in a nut shell