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Peggy Harte
Environmental Science Program Manager
(707) 399-4409

Ward Stewart
District & School Support Liaison         (707) 399-4433

Solano County Office of education Spinning Salmon project badge with fish, 
water and leaf




Keywords: environmental literacy, citizen science, student research, California salmon research, conservation, NGSS, salmon life cycle, sustainability, eco careers, science careers, B-WET, Bay Watershed Education and Training, NOAA

Spinning Salmon Citizen Science

collage of salmon fry fish tanks eggs students and water

SCOE's Spinning Salmon Citizen Science Research Project engages Solano students in authentic scientific research. This program has been developed through a collaborative effort between the Solano County Office of Education, the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), UCD Center for Watershed Sciences, California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and UCD Center for Community and Citizen Science.

logos for NOAA UC Davis, SCOE, CDFW

Solano Students helping to solve a mystery

"Spinning Salmon" 

A mystery emerged in 2020, when experts at the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Fish Health Laboratory and UC Davis Aquatic Animal Health Laboratory discovered something was causing young salmon in fish hatcheries to swim in corkscrew patterns and die at unusually high rates. Investigators with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s California-Nevada Fish Health Center noticed that a bath of thiamine immediately revived the ailing juveniles. They now suspect the problem is linked to a deficiency of thiamine in returning adult salmon that fed off the coast of central California.

Grant Awarded from the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

Solano County Office of Education was awarded a Bay Watershed Education and Training (B-WET) grant to engage teachers and students in citizen science to help solve the mystery threatening the salmon population in California's central valley. SCOE's “Spinning Salmon” Citizen Science Research Project launched in September of 2022 and will continue for three years. Funding from the NOAA B-WET grant includes teacher training, aquariums, and student field experiences.

Year one of the project will support teachers from county court and/or continuing education schools.

Monitoring California Salmon

Through a citizen-science-based classroom experience of hatching fish eggs and monitoring and releasing salmon, students gain understanding of the value of aquatic environments, the balance that must be met to maintain and preserve California's fisheries and aquatic habitats, and how human actions affect these important resources.

salmon lifecycle: 5 stages, egg, alevin, fry, smolt, adult and spawning adult

Teachers Leading the Way

Solano County teachers can join this opportunity to engage students in the Spinning Salmon project. As part of the permitting process to receive eggs, teachers will learn more about California’s watershed and the work being done to preserve California's aquatic habitats. Current research into Salmon Thiamine Deficiency will be provided, and Solano students and teachers will partner with researchers from UC Davis citizen scientists, allowing student data to support ongoing research.

CTE Opportunities

The Spinning Salmon project will also explore ways in which citizen science can support Career Technical Education (CTE) goals by allowing students to contribute authentic, meaningful data to research and work directly with the scientific community.

Teacher involvement & Support

During this program, educators will learn about the Classroom Aquarium Education Program (CAEP) as part of the Department of Fish and Wildlife permitting process. Educators will also hear directly from researchers.

Supports for Teachers:

  • Training and permitting from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CA DFW)
  • Professional development through the UC Davis Center for Community and Citizen Science
  • Engagement with researchers from NOAA and the UC Davis Center for Watershed Sciences
  • Professional coaching in citizen science
  • Shared lessons and collaboration opportunities
  • Opportunities for field investigations within the local watershed
  • $500 stipend for training and implementation
  • $500 field trip fund for student transportation
  • Ongoing mentoring and support
  • Classroom equipment- tank supplies, etc.

GetTING started

Solano teachers who are interested in bringing science and research to life with the Spinning Salmon project can contact Peggy Harte, Environmental Science Program Manager for Solano County Office of Education at or (707) 399-4409 for more information.