Students helping bring native fish back to Yakima - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Students helping bring native fish back to Yakima

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UNION GAP, Wash.-- Students at La Salle High School in Union Gap are working to bring salmon back to local streams and water ways.

It's definitely not the most glamorous project, but working at the Ahtanum Creek Educational Fish Hatchery gives students at La Salle a hands on look at science.

"I like it a lot more then just sitting in a classroom, reading a story about it," said Austin Hearron, a sophomore at La Salle.

"I think we learn more coming out here and it's more hands on," said 10th grader Kennedy Tri.

This is the third year the hatchery has been open at La Salle, and it's the first time students are able to see the whole process. From physically removing and fertilizing the eggs, to putting baby salmon back into the wild.

"Put together the hatchery with the ultimate goal of restoring the wild salmon run on Ahtanum Creek. And it's been a fantastic educational opportunity for the students, as well as for me. I've learned a while lot in this process," said Brother Jack Henderson, a science teacher at La Salle.

La Salle High School sits only a couple hundred feet from a portion of Ahtanum Creek, making it the perfect spot to raise salmon.

The hatchery project is a partnership between the school and the Yakama Nation and gives students a way to learn, while bringing an important part of Native American culture back to the valley.

"When the creek stopped flowing during the summers, the salmon died out, they went extinct. So, we're trying to restore the native Coho to the creek," Henderson said.

Thursday, students started the process of hatching salmon. Mixing the female eggs with milt from the males.

The fertilized eggs sit in heath trays for about two months until the fish are finally born. From there, they will transfer them into bigger tubs where they can grow, before they're released back into the wild.

"It's pretty cool. I never really knew anything about salmon before, never really cared to learn anything, but this is actually pretty awesome," Hearron said.

In May, the baby Coho Salmon will be almost three inches long and ready to be released.

They hope to reintroduce thousands of Coho to the creek, and next year, they may even see some of them return.