Visit a Fish Hatchery


  • Service Project: Visit a fish hatchery to learn about conservation efforts
  • Prep time: 5 minutes to find the nearest fish hatchery. Visit your state’s Fish and Wildlife Service website for more information. 
  • Cost: Free, although you may want to purchase food for the fish or make a donation
  • Duration: 1 hour
  • Lesson(s) learned: You can learn lifelong conservation habits that will help the ecosystem in your community (and beyond!) 

How we did it:
You may be asking, “What is a fish hatchery and why is it important for the community?” Fish hatcheries produce larvae and juvenile fish of certain species so that they can later be released into their local, wild habitat. This is important because from the time that we began settling in the United States, what was once abundant fish populations have started to decline. Human influence and habitat destruction have threatened entire species. In order to maintain the health of these species, fish hatcheries, managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, focus on conservation activities that ensure the species access to the quality and quantity of habitats that they need for food, water and nesting areas. Their Fisheries Program asserts that a “…healthy habitat is vital to well managed aquatic resources, continuing ecological, recreational, commercial, and subsistence contributions to our nation’s prosperity (Fish and Aquatic Conservation, 2016).”
According to their website, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife operates 21 fish hatcheries in the state. In Oregon’s there are 33 fish hatcheries. To find a fish hatchery closest to you, simply visit your state’s Fish and Wildlife Service website. 
We chose the Nimbus Hatchery located in eastern Sacramento county. As we made our way to the hatchery, we were excited to learn what we could do to help fish in our local ecosystem.  

The Nimbus Hatchery was established in 1958. It produces and releases 4 million Chinook salmon and 430,000 steelhead trout annually. 

Addie was fascinated by the long stretches of water-filled lanes! She didn’t yet realize what was in the water behind her. 

Addie was standing among multiple raceway ponds used to raise juvenile fish. 

Imagine Addie’s surprise when she looked into one of the ponds to see hundreds of small fish! 

After we had spent some time walking through the raceway ponds and talking about the fish, we discovered that Addie would have an opportunity to feed them! 

25 cents later we had a palm-full of fish food!

Addie really enjoyed watching all the fish jumping out of the water to eat the fish food. 

After feeding the fish, we headed into the visitor’s center to learn how we can help protect the fragile ecosystem that the fish live in. 

Save Water, Save Fish! The majority of California is experiencing severe drought to exceptional drought conditions. We learned that our water conservation efforts can help the ecosystem that the fish live in. Addie and I talked about the buckets that we have in our shower to collect the water as it warms up. We use that water for our backyard potted plants. We discussed other ways to help conserve water, like making sure that our showers are short and that we only run our dishwasher when it’s full. 

We learned about watershed and how that effects our communities. Watersheds sustain life and it’s important that we make good decisions for our environment to keep our watersheds healthy. 

Addie spent a lot of time at this section of the center. She seemed very concerned about the boot stepping on the babies in the eggs. We talked about being aware of where you’re walking and the habitats you may be destroying. We then talked about littering. This is a subject that Addie is familiar with. One of her past service projects was to clean up litter in our community. As the exhibit states, “Keep it litter-free. Litter adds toxins which poison life in the river.” 

We had a great, educational visit to our local fish hatchery! We learned how important activities, such as using water collected in our shower to water our plants, is to preserving our local ecosystem. We also learned additional ways to help our community’s ecosystem. We are excited to start practicing what we learned!
Have fun visiting your local fish hatchery and learning about what you can do for the environment!