Salmon Heroes

Salmon Heroes

Salmon Heroes is closed for the season. If you are interested in accessing our library of Salmon Heroes video resources or receiving physical copies of our student Field Journals, please email our Program Coordinator:

Salmon Heroes is a five-hour program designed to teach students about salmon habitat needs and how stormwater pollution is affecting the watershed. It occurs in fall and winter when salmon return to their spawning grounds, and allows students to see and help them through science projects and daily action steps.

Recommended for grades 4-12

Season: September – December


Salmon Heroes is going virtual in 2020 & 2021!

The Salmon Heroes Program will still include the three-part approach from previous years. We will include our one-hour pre-lesson, a three-hour field study investigation (broken down into smaller stations), and our one-hour post-field study follow-up lesson. If you are interested, our National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) funding also allows us to go into more depth with students crafting some stewardship projects related to salmon and watersheds.

You will get to decide what works best for your students. You can select pre-recorded options for all three parts or a mix of live Zoom classes with some pre-recorded parts. Learn more about the Salmon Heroes program by watching students and naturalists work!

If you have questions, please contact our Programs Coordinator:

Recorded Lessons AND Live Virtual Class Options:

All aspects of our program will be available as both a recorded lesson to be shown at yours and students’ convenience. We will also be scheduling live Zoom classes as an option, if desired, for some or all of the three sections. We are creating a Salmon Heroes Field Journal to help guide students through all the parts of the program. This booklet will be available both as a download and printed booklet.

    •  Part 1: During the initial one-hour lesson, students will delve into the habitat needs of salmon, as well as the challenges to survival that salmon face during each stage of their life cycle. This lesson covers limiting factors for salmon survival, including the impacts from human development, climate change, and polluted stormwater.
  • Part 2: This component will include our outdoor stream explorations. Students will review the salmon life cycle, learn external and internal anatomy, collect water quality data, and use maps to examine whole watershed connections.
  • Part 3: The final one-hour lesson will discuss the water quality results found in local streams. Students will also be tasked with brainstorming solutions to many common pollutants in the watershed, such as carbon dioxide, tire dust, fertilizer, dog waste, and car oil. They will have the opportunity to brainstorm positive actions they can take in their community and with their families to improve local water quality.
  • Optional Part 4: ESC naturalists will work with students to develop stewardship action projects. These might be public service announcements (PSAs) created to talk about stormwater pollution or crafting a letter to the city council about salmon health in their community.

All portions of this program are correlated with Next Generation Science Standards.

What could this look like? We encourage you to pick the option that will work best for you and your students. Our live Zoom class options will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis. We are encouraging grade-level cohorts from a school to sign up together. Here is one option for how you can sign up for Salmon Heroes this fall:

1. Pre-recorded one-hour introductory lesson

2. Mix of pre-recorded field study lessons with a 45-minute Zoom live class to test water and analyze the stream with our naturalists in the field. This could be scheduled together with all the grade level cohorts from the same school.

3. Live one-hour Zoom class to discuss water quality results and brainstorm solutions.

Location: What streams will we be visiting? We want to connect students with streams in their local communities. In a typical year, we host field studies at Miller Creek in Normandy Park, the Cedar River in Renton, the Green River in Auburn. However, this year we will have the opportunity to test and share smaller local streams near individual schools. As schools schedule, we will be planning our water testing locations to ensure we are connecting with a stream close to you and your students.            

Cost:  As mentioned above, we have received grants from King County Flood Control District, King County Wastewater Treatment Division – WaterWorks program, Snoqualmie Indian Tribe, and NOAA’s B-WET program to help support our program this year. We will be offering the whole program at no cost to you or your students!


To book Salmon Heroes: Our online Salmon Heroes Registration Form will give you the option to select pre-recorded videos or live Zoom classes for each of the three options. We also ask that you request a two-week time period when you would prefer the program. We will then work with your school to schedule live classes if needed.

We also have English and Spanish versions of our student field journals available for download. All registered students can receive a printed version of field journal and some polarized salmon viewing glasses.


After participating in ESC’s Salmon Heroes program, students pledge to adopt three behaviors to protect, to conserve, and to educate others about the importance of clean watersheds to sustain healthy salmon. To honor these students’ commitment to environmental stewardship, they received an Official Salmon Hero identification card.


Past Salmon Heroes can be found here!