Students release salmon into the Columbia River - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Students release salmon into the Columbia River

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KENNEWICK, Wash.--  Elementary and middle school students in the Tri-Cities said goodbye to their fish Tuesday and Wednesday.

More than 135 classes, nearly 4,000 students, had been raising salmon in their classrooms for the past three months.  As part of the 10th annual Salmon Summit, the students released their fish into the Columbia River, at the boat launch near the Blue Bridge in Kennewick.  Kids put the fish in cups and walked them to the edge of the river and poured them in.

Edele Solferino, a 4th grader at White Bluffs Elementary, explains, "We were getting the fish in a cup because we've been having fish in our classroom.   We released them in the river and we watched them swim away."

While students had the salmon in their classrooms, they studied the species, their lifecycle, and learned many interesting facts.  4th grader Sequoia Peterson says, "We earned how they go down the river, go to the ocean and then stay there for 4 years, and then come back up."]

"We learned the different stages of a salmon's life and learned why they're called salmon," says Paige Pederson, in 4th grade at White Bluffs.  Paige says salmon means "jumping fish."

The fish release, hosted by the Benton and Franklin Conservation districts, is the largest student fish release in eastern Washington.