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Kenai students spend a day job shadowing at CIAA

Kenai students meet CIAA staff and get hands-on experience wiring a solar-powered video weir.

by | February 16, 2024

From Left: Emily, Grace, Fox, Luis, and Destin ready for their job shadow experience at CIAA.
From Left: Emily, Grace, Fox, Luis, and Destin ready for their job shadow experience at CIAA. KCHS

For 25 years the Kenai Chamber of Commerce has partnered with Kenai Central High School to offer a job shadow day for students. Cook Inlet Aquaculture Association staff participated in the event this year hosting four juniors—Destin, Grace, Fox and Luis—from KCHS.

The day started by picking up the students at the high school. Once at Headquarters in Kenai the students toured the facility and met all the staff that were on site.

I then led the students through a presentation about CIAA and gave a refresher course of salmon and the salmon life cycle. Typically during the winter months a lot of the work is office oriented for Special Projects staff; data entry and processing, report and grant writing, along with prep for the upcoming field season. The students were shown some spreadsheets with data from the 2023 field season as well as working reports but in order not to bore them we focused on work that typically occurs during the summer months.

Students wire the solar panel into the video weird system. The solar panel keeps the batteries powered in order to record the video.
Students wire the solar panel into the video weir system. The solar panel keeps the batteries powered in order to record the video. Emily Heale

About CIAA And Its Role In Salmon Enhancement

We walked through what a typical summer season looks like and some of the day to day logistical challenges that can arise. The students were not familiar with salmon enumeration or how organizations, like CIAA, conduct that work so we walked through the different kinds of weirs we operate in a given season and why they are beneficial for different salmon life stages and stream settings.

One type of weir that we operate are video weirs, set-up to capture the movement of adult salmon into a system without a crew being onsite. Video weirs differ from traditional counting weirs which require someone to be at the weir at all times to manually pass fish.

The students had the opportunity to set up the video weir system which included a battery bank and solar panel. Destin, Grace, Fox, and Luis worked through the manual together to get the system setup in record time. The set up served two purposes:

  • A fun activity for the students to conduct during their job shadow
  • To allow me to see if the procedures manual for setup of the system made sense to people who do not typically set it up and use it. It was a success on both accounts.

The Students Respond

Although only one of the students wants to go into biology specifically they are all interested in careers in science. Fox would like to be a horticulturist and own her own greenhouse or nursery one day; she even gave me some tips about watering my office plants. Grace wants to be a geologist, Destin a toxicologist and Luis a marine biologist or architect. All four of them had the desire and drive to learn new things, and they all expressed interest in learning new things as well as doing what they enjoy working in the field.

It was refreshing to host job shadow students—it can be easy in the lull of winter to forget what is so fun, exciting, and unique about the job. Teaching the students about the field camps, weirs, and salmon has reinvigorated me and will help propel me through the last few months of winter before the busy season begins again.  

Learn more

CIAA is happy to help you learn more about its salmon enhancement programs. Schedule a class visit or a tour of a hatchery.

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