RICHLAND — A few of Kayla Estes' classmates were noticeably grossed out as biologists dissected two adult chinook salmon in their science classroom at Richland's Carmichael Middle School.
Kayla, on the other hand, didn't bat an eye.
"My dad's a fisher and a hunter," the eighth grader said. "I've seen a lot of animal guts."
Still, she and other students said the dissections, performed by fish biologists from Benton Conservation District, were an interesting experience that gave them an appreciation for the fish -- and those who work them.
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Carmichael science teacher Jared Farley and the biologists said the dissections are important for educating youth about the region's river systems and the importance of science.
"For some students, this is the only dissection experience they'll ever have," said fish biologist Rachel Little.
Farley, a former fish biologist with the U.S. Geological Survey, has welcomed the conservation district into his classroom for the past six years to perform the dissections in front of students.
The lesson is part of a broader program about salmon, which also includes a tank of salmon eggs raised in the classroom each year before the fry are released in May.
Eighth grader Jason Crandall said he recalled seeing a dissection last year and was excited to see it again this year.
"I really enjoyed watching it so I got a front-row seat," he said.
Farley said it's important for his students to understand local ecosystems because their decisions as future voters, homeowners and consumers will affect the environment.
Some students are a little put off by the gore, but Farley said he has yet to have one student pass out.
"For me, it isn't science if it isn't a little stinky," Farley said.