MARYSVILLE, Calif. Jan. 17, 2018 – For nearly 25 years, Greg and Kathleen Payne have been teaching Yuba County elementary school students about the life cycle of fish and the importance of a healthy watershed. That program got a boost today, with a grant from Yuba County Water Agency to fund new equipment for this unique, inspirational program.

As a part of the California Aquatics Education Program, commonly referred to as Fish in the Classroom, students help set up aquariums in their classrooms, receive salmon or steelhead eggs, maintain water temperatures to mimic river conditions, and observe the different life stages before releasing them into the wild.

“In doing this, the students are able to become bonded with nature and learn to understand the importance of salmon in the river, the watershed, and how their everyday lives can impact the health of the river,” said Kathleen Payne, program organizer.

This grant will allow the program organizers to purchase new water chilling units necessary for keeping the classroom aquariums at the appropriate temperature for fish to grow. The YCWA Board of Directors unanimously approved the request, which would include additional funding in the years to come to replace the remaining chillers as they wear out.

“It’s impressive to see that the students know all of the life cycles of the fish, and to have that education at such a young age is just phenomenal,” said YCWA General Manager Curt Aikens. “We strongly support these type of programs to educate our kids on the importance of the environment.”

YCWA has supported the Fish in the Classroom program for more than 20 years by helping fund the maintenance and costs of the aquarium chillers and transportation to and from the river, when needed.

Click here to see a video about the program, featuring students from Linda Elementary and Lone Tree Elementary schools.