Students Blend Art and Technology to Spread Conservation Message

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Students at Neilson Grove Elementary in Delta paint dream fish to be hung on a section of fence along the Milennium Trail in Delta.

If you have a school in your neighborhood, you’ve likely seen the brightly painted wooden cut-outs of salmon attached to fences. The fish are a product of the Stream of Dreams Mural program. The program teaches students where their local watersheds are, how salmon support the ecosystem and how to protect them. The murals of painted fish (dream fish) are a symbol of the students’ new understanding of their watershed. They also serve as a key messaging vehicle for the broader community, reminding people that all drains lead to fish. In Delta, one school took the concept a step further by adding Quick Response codes to their dream fish. When scanned by a smart phone Quick Response codes (QR codes) link to on-line content.

The “Stream of Dream” students at Neilson Grove Elementary School printed the QR codes on their mural and linked the fish to video interviews of local environmental experts produced by older students. The dream fish hang in a highly-visible area along the Millennium Trail.
“We already have an active green program that promotes recycling and composting,” said Bob Thompson, school principal. “However, we wanted to connect the kids to their local environment. We have a fish-bearing slough that runs beside the school grounds, so the Stream of Dreams program was a perfect fit.”
“The key to behaviour change is communication, and children today are adept communicators,” said Thompson. “So many of the tools they use like QR codes and social media are essentially communication tools. The Stream of Dreams program is effective because it makes children champions for salmon and encourages them to go home and remind their parents not to wash their car near a storm drain or flush their medication down the toilet.”
The Pacific Salmon Foundation has granted $119,540 to 12 Stream of Dreams projects since 2004. To support projects that engage youth in salmon conservation with a tax-deductible year-end donation please click here.