Salmon Fest School Days are just for students!

Since it’s inception in 1991, thousands of 3rd and 4th grade students from across Washington State have migrated to Leavenworth National Fish Hatchery in the fall to enjoy the Wenatchee River Salmon Festival.  Teachers and students spend time through the school year learning about Natural Resources subjects that will prepare them for the activities at Salmon Fest.

An exciting menu of hands-on activities and “edutainment” gives students from throughout North Central Washington a unique opportunity to discover and appreciate the complexities of the natural world and the significance of salmon to people of the northwest.

By the Numbers….

The event draws 2,000 -3,000 students, and hundreds of teachers, educators, and parents, from over 30 schools experience the annual festival. It takes hundreds of Natural Resources staff and volunteers to run the 40+ educational activities and exhibits.

Our goal…  To inspire the next generation of stewards.

Salmon Fest is back in 2022! 


2022 Event Info


SCHOOL DAYS – Thurs & Fri, Sept. 15th & 16th
COMMUNITY DAY – Sat, Sept. 17th

Location: Leavenworth National Fish Hatchery

Drop-In Activities

This is a tentative list of drop-in activities that require no sign-up. We encourage you to visit these activities throughout the day as your schedule allows. Many of the activities will be located in the exhibit area. (This list will continue to be updated as we near the festival.)

In this 40 by 40 foot barrier-free maze, students will experience the many challenges of aquatic life and migration when they discover themselves as salmon, hatching and struggling to survive. They meet predators along the way as they go through the salmon’s amazing life cycle.

Many agencies and organizations in our community share information through hands-on, interactive activities. Cascadia Conservation District, Yakama Nation Fisheries, Bureau of Land Management, Washington State Parks, Wolf Haven, and many others will be joining us for this salmon celebration.

Join a USFWS fish veterinarian and dissect a real salmon! Learn all about the organs and body parts that help a salmon survive and thrive.

Gaze through the waters and become eye to eye with our local freshwater fish. Learn more about why fish look the way they do and how to identify them.

How did hatcheries raise fish over 50 years ago? Find out in the Hatchery History Exhibit inside the nursery.

Join staff from Grand Coulee Dam to discover the wonders of hydropower, electric circuits, and solar-powered ovens – and take a Virtual Reality tour of the dam!

Read a book, learn about fish, and get your very own library card!

Basketry and Beadwork Exhibit, Animals of the Inland NW, Ethnobotany and Salmon Heritage of the Inland NW, Arts and Crafts Review and Sales Booths, Traditional Flute Exhibit, Traditional Subsurface Cooking Methods and Native Cuisine.

Immerse yourself in the traditional dances and drumming from Columbia River Plateau Tribes, including the Round Bustle dance, Duck and Dive, and Prairie Chicken dance, among others. You might even be invited to join in the Wasco Salmon Dance!(Dance exhibitions will be scheduled twice a day.)

One of the most significant First Foods of Columbia plateau tribes, salmon are preserved, cooked, and eaten in a number of different ways. Learn about the cultural, economical, and nutritional significance of salmon.

Discover what a butterfly looks like through a microscope and go on a garden scavenger hunt!

View live raptors while learning about the “Hunters of the Sky” with Sardis Raptor Center. What do raptors eat? How high can they fly? What do they do in the winter? Drop in with your questions about owls, hawks, eagles, falcons and more and see them live, up close!

Spin the wheel, test your Fish IQ and learn fishy facts! 

Sign-Up Activities


Teachers should choose their 5 preferred Salmon Festival activities (green) AND their 3 preferred Native American Village activities (blue) from these lists when completing the Teacher Registration Form (found below). We will do our best to accommodate your choices (register early for best selection!). Take into account any special needs your students may have when choosing your activities. Remember if you have participated in Kids in the Creek or the Dance Exhibition in the past two years, please refrain from signing up this year, so others have a chance to participate in these popular activities.

Salmon Festival Activities

Native American Village Activities

You will be able to choose 5 Salmon Festival activities from the list when registering.

You will be able to choose 3 Native American Village activities from the list when registering.

What dog has webbed feet? What cat is really a dog? Learn this and more from wildlife biologists at the completely new and revised Animal Trackers. Then, compete with your classmates to see who is best at identifying who made the track. Requires skill AND speed! Divide into teams and play against each other or, maybe, even play against your teachers!
(30 minutes)

Students learn the external anatomy of a fish then apply paint and carefully press paper over it for a colorful print in the same manner that Japanese fishermen once recorded their daily catch, by making a fish rubbing (gyo=fish, taku=rubbing).
(30 minutes)

Become a salmon and migrate your way past predators, fishing boats, dams, and waterfalls to make it back to your home stream.
(30 minutes)

From the banks of Icicle Creek and in its calmer reaches, students explore the parameters of a healthy fish habitat. With a fisheries biologist as a guide, they will determine where fish like to live, what they prefer to eat, and what macroinvertebrates are considered indicator species. If you are scheduled for this activity then you automatically receive Macroinvertebrate Mayhem.
(40 minutes)

Students become caddisflies, stoneflies, and other aquatic insects in a game of tag. They quickly learn that some insects are more susceptible to environmental changes than others.
(30 minutes)

Using various mounted raptors (birds of prey) and live birds of the area, students explore the habits and life histories of these birds. Wing parts, feet, skulls, and food pellets show in great detail the interesting adaptations of the raptors on display and learn about their relationship to fish.
(30 minutes)

Explore Icicle Creek Interpretive Trail through this unique multi-sensory safari. Stations along the trail are staffed by biologists who interpret wildlife, plants, archaeology, geology, and riparian river themes. Students participate in a lively and engaging manner, involving them in hands-on learning.
(40 minutes)

Students and parents alike learn-through-playing in a giant sandbox! This hands-on interactive watershed modeling activity is a unique experience, where you can learn the elements of a healthy watershed and then use that knowledge to create ideal Salmon habitat.
(30 minutes)

Learn computer coding to program a salmon robot, and help it navigate up a river to its spawning grounds.
(30 minutes)

Discover the difference between healthy and unhealthy forest fires, and how they impact our streams and salmon. Find out what you can do to to make a difference in the forest!
(30 minutes)

Take a behind-the-scenes tour with hatchery staff. Learn about the salmon life cycle, see live salmon eggs, and watch fingerling Chinook salmon eat lunch.
(40 minutes)

Join the Audubon society to search high and low for life-like wooden bird models. Learn skills to help identify birds that you can see right here in North Central Washington.
(30 minutes)

In this colorful 30-foot long nylon inflatable salmon tent, students hear Native American legends conveying the importance of salmon, wildlife, and rivers to their culture from a renowned Native American storyteller.
(25 minutes)

Build a tipi on the banks of the Nsíq’el’t (Icicle Creek). It will take everyone helping out to get your tipi standing. Learn about tipi customs and how they are used in a variety of ways.
(30 minutes)

The Columbia river is the lifeline for plateau tribes. Before the advent of cars and roads, rivers provided easy and swift transportation. Learn about traditional canoe building and heritage from an expert.
(30 minutes)

Look out across Nsíq’el’t (Icicle creek) at the traditional salmon fishing grounds of the Wenatchii people. Today the Wenatchii band still returns to Nsíq’el’t every year to fish. Learn about traditional and modern fishing tools and methods, and how salmon play an important role as a First Food for Columbia plateau tribes. 
(30 minutes)

How did we make tools before machines? See how flintknapping can make a variety of tools and instruments. Practice using tools, including throwing an atlatl. 
(30 minutes)

2022 Teacher Workshops and Festival Registration

Please sign up for a Salmon Festival Teacher Workshop! These workshops will be virtual, are required for teachers who did not bring a class in 2019, and strongly encouraged for all teachers who would like to attend the festival this year. Please contact our Education Coordinator to sign up for the workshop date that works best for you.

Workshop Dates:
June 29th, 2:00 PM – 4:00 PM
July 1st, 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM
July 5th, 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM
July 7th, 2:00 PM – 4:00 PM
July 13th, 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM
July 15th, 1:00 PM – 3:00 PM

Registration for new and returning teachers will open on August 1st. Early bird registration (for teachers who provided signed photo release forms for their whole class or completed the post-festival event evaluation in 2019) will open on July 25th. If you would like to know if you qualify for early bird registration, please contact our Education Coordinator.

2019 Teacher Resources

Post Event Evaluation Form

After the festival, teachers are asked to complete the Post Event Evaluation Form to provide feedback on their Salmon Fest experience. The survey will be made available for several weeks following each event.