BURLINGTON — Children and their parents gathered Saturday outside the Children’s Museum of Skagit County for a salmon-themed day of hands-on educational activities.

The museum, in partnership with the Skagit Fisheries Enhancement Group and the Skagit Conservation District, celebrated salmon and watershed habitat conservation with its Salmon Day event.

The event was part of the Skagit Conservation Education Alliance’s Skagit Water Weeks, a collection of educational water-quality events hosted throughout May by local organizations.

The Skagit Fisheries Enhancement Group and Children’s Museum of Skagit County have had a partnership for almost 19 years now, said Cate Anderson, executive director of the museum.

Event contributors provided salmon-themed arts and crafts projects, salmon-themed storytime and an interactive watershed table for kids to learn about how pollution makes its way into bodies of water by using coffee grounds and creamer to simulate different types of pollutants in runoff.

“It’s very hands-on and the kids are super-involved in all the projects,” said Rachel Burtt, who brought her three children to the event.

Cindy Pierce, education and outreach lead for the Skagit Conservation District, works with teachers and schools to teach students from kindergarten to 12th grade about the importance of water quality.

“They’re our next generation,” Pierce said. “This watershed is going to be theirs. It already is.”

After the event at the museum, the Skagit Fisheries Enhancement Group released 50 juvenile coho salmon into Hansen Creek in Sedro-Woolley.

The young fish had been raised in a tank in the museum as part of the Skagit Fisheries Enhancement Group’s Salmon in Schools program — also referred to as Salmon in the Classroom.

The Skagit Fisheries Enhancement Group brought Salmon in Schools to the museum to allow the public to access the program as well, said Megan Cahill, education associate at the Skagit Fisheries Enhancement Group.

The program aims to teach kids about the salmon life cycle and their habitats, as well as how they’re a keystone species and about the importance of improving their environment.

“It’s better than watching a show or reading it out of a book when they’re able to (participate in activities) in person and experience it — like releasing the salmon,” Pierce said. “… It’s just so powerful because they become a part of it.”

— Reporter Benjamin Leung: bleung@skagitpublishing.com, 360-416-2156, Twitter: @goskagit

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