Rowdy Creek Field Trip, from original pen & ink by Wayne Bricco

Rowdy Creek Field Trip
Rowdy Creek Park
Smith River, California

My child, listen to what I say, and treasure my commands.
Proverbs 2:1 NLT

"Life Cycles" was one of Kathy's favorite science units to teach her 4th graders. She would introduce the unit in January with the life cycle of the penguin. That was always fun! Then they moved on to study about salmon. Working with the California Department of Fish and Game in Crescent City and Rowdy Creek Fish Hatchery in Smith River, they were able to hatch salmon eggs in the classroom.

I helped Kathy set up the aquarium, which required a trip to Rowdy Creek about 15 miles north of Crescent City to get the water. Since salmon return to spawn in the same stream where they hatch, it was important to use water from Rowdy Creek. The imprinting begins even before the eggs hatch, which allows the adult salmon to find the same stream again, even after traveling great distances into the ocean over a period of several years.

When all was ready, the salmon (or occasionally steelhead) eggs were brought to the classroom. The students cared for the aquarium, watching and recording the development of the eggs/fish as they grew through several stages of their life cycle. After about two months, when the fry were about an inch long, a field trip was arranged to go to Rowdy Creek Park to release them into the creek, and to tour the hatchery.

Since I retired before Kathy, I often volunteered in her classroom and was able to go with them those last two years. It was so fun watching those little junior scientists do their stream study activities. As they worked, a few at a time went down to the edge of the creek with "Mrs. Bricco" for a turn to take the net, dip a fish out of the container of aquarium water, and release it into the stream. Such bittersweet excitement watching those little fish swim away!

I drew this picture for Kathy for her retirement. She was very surprised when I presented it to her at her retirement dinner in June 2004.

Update, February 2014:
We are releasing Rowdy Creek Field Trip to the public for the first time now in celebration of the 10th anniversary of our business. I was just really beginning to take my pen & ink skills seriously when I drew this; we had filed for our first business license just four months earlier. This was my first attempt to draw a landscape and people. Prior to that I was just drawing single items such as flowers, sheds, and lighthouse. I have come a long way with my skills and techniques since then!
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