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Stories from the valley

Exploring the Nimbus Fish Hatchery

Contributed by Ellen Martin

One of my favorite things about raising my kids in the same city I grew up in is taking them to some of the places I loved when I was their age. The Nimbus Fish Hatchery is one of those places.

While I went on many a school field trip to the fish hatchery, I also spent a lot of time exploring the trails nearby with my parents. We went on a family trip recently to share that experience with the kids.

We started at the trails so that we could enjoy the walk in the cooler morning temperature. The have a beautiful sign that greets you – with some great tips for parents. Let your child be the leader, use all your senses, engage your child in active discovery. The trails walk right along the river in the summer you can spot California wild grape and blackberries. Year round you can find great rocks, leaves and Oak trees for climbing.

Our kids had a great time looking for “treasures” – special rocks, leaves or feathers that they could examine. We leave as many of these “treasures” on the trail as we can – for other explorers to find, but sometime something is extra special and makes it home for their collections.

Inside the visitor center, there are lots of hands-on activities for kids. Some of our favorites are the “Salmon Survival Spin”, a giant spinning wheel that highlights all the many dangers for salmon from egg through adulthood, and the big cluster of eggs (especially the one you can sit in!)

Outside the center there are two main places to check out. First is the ladder – where if the season is right you can see fish jumping up to the hatchery. The ladder just opened earlier this week for the Salmon – so now is a great time to see some action.

The second place to go outside the center is the feeding ponds. Make sure you bring your quarters so you can get some food for the kids to feed the fish. They all seem to love watching the young fish race to the food and jump.

At the end of a trip like this, it’s almost guaranteed that everyone in your group learned something while having a great time. Making nature truly the best classroom.