With signs of spring around us, tucked away in the Mark Hobson Fish Hatchery located in the heart of campus on Lake Omar, there are thousands of salmon eggs at the start of their life cycle under the watchful eye of Shawnigan students. Offering a hands-on learning experience with this little school of fish, the lessons learned while in the hatchery extend outside of the classroom. It all starts with the delivery of the salmon roe which are cared for as they go through their stages of development, from alevin to fry to smolts, when the time comes to release them into nearby Hartl Creek which joins with the larger Shawnigan Creek. With Hartl Creek then becoming their natal creek, it is anticipated that these salmon will return year after year as part of their life cycle. The role the hatchery plays is significant as Shawnigan Creek has one of the largest Coho Salmon returns in the entire Province.
As one of the first secondary schools in Canada with an on-site hatchery, Shawnigan’s hatchery has become an integral part of the Environmental Sciences 9 and 11 programs where students learn about the economic, cultural and ecological impact of these fish. Not only do the students of the environmental sciences get to be a part of this exceptional experience, but two of our 360 co-curricular programs – Eco Ninjas and Fly Tying – are also actively involved. Having such a wide reach in the School, who would have guessed that thousands of tiny little eggs could have such a large impact on learning and knowledge?
A donor has generously funded recent upgrades to the hatchery and Laura Robson, Beyond the Gates co-leader, science teacher and the brains behind the scales, is excited about the upcoming release later in the spring, what it means for our local salmon population, and in turn the ecosystem they are part of. With major flooding, heat domes and other extreme weather events becoming more commonplace, the preservation of these sensitive ecosystems is more important now than ever before. By learning about the sensitive habitats around us and the importance of just one species on the overall ecosystem, the Mark Hobson Fish Hatchery on campus is successfully fulfilling one of the strategic pillars of the School – to innovate for co-curricular distinction.
Shawnigan Lake School is adhering to all COVID-19 guidelines released by the BC Ministries of Health and Education.
We acknowledge with respect the Coast Salish Peoples on whose traditional lands and waterways we live, learn and play. We are grateful for the opportunity to share in this beautiful region, and we aspire to healthy and respectful relationships with those who have lived on and cared for these lands for millennia.
Shawnigan Lake School is an independent co-educational boarding school for ages 13 –18 on Canada’s beautiful West Coast. Our diverse, interdisciplinary and innovative programming helps shape the next generation of global leaders.