Harlan Kredit, The Outdoors Instructor
High School Science Teacher, Lynden, Wash.
For 30 years, Kredit has used projects in the local Fishtrap Creek watershed as a focus of his curriculum. To date, his classes have raised over 2 million salmon in a student-built hatchery and planted 15,000 trees.
When I was a kid, Fishtrap Creek ran by my house, and I couldn't wait for fall to see those big fish running out of Puget Sound. By 1974 when I took the job at the high school, there were hardly any fish left.
For our first class project, we hatched 5,000 salmon eggs using a pump, a kiddie pool, and a fiberglass box that our boys made in shop. Since then we've really adopted this watershed-it's our stream. My senior biology class is in charge of the hatchery; my sophomores do the riparian-zone work, like planting trees. My first day with a new class, I say, "If there are any wusses, go to somebody else's classroom." We designate field trips by three levels: Slightly Grubby, Medium Grubby, and Maximum Grubby. Like this past year I had my sophomores at the elementary school in a downpour teaching fourth graders how to plant trees. If you want kids to invest in something, empower them to do it. Like our hatchery: I have a student manager who comes down on weekends because he doesn't want anything to go wrong on his watch. Or our smolt channel-when the bridge over it floated away, six students came out on a Saturday to get it back. And they take that responsibility into the community. I've had students come into class and say, "Mr. Kredit, we went fishing and saw so-and-so dumping antifreeze in a storm drain and we told him not to." I love kids, but more than that, I love to challenge those kids to take care of a place like this. And they're doing it. This past October, one of my students and his father and I were in the hatchery about 10 at night installing a generator, and suddenly we hear from the creek, splash-splash, splash. Sure enough, those big salmon were running.
-- Kimberly Hiss