SWOCC students receive $25,000 to study Coho salmon

NORTH BEND, Ore. -- Six students at Southwestern Oregon Community College had a unique opportunity this summer.

They used wireless tracking devices to study Coho salmon out in the field.

They say it wouldn't have been possible without the financial help they received.

AT&T gave SWOCC a $25,000 grant to carry out their research. It's just one of three schools in the nation to receive it.

Adam Grzybicki, the president of AT&T in Oregon, says SWOCC stood out because the technology they used was unique and the project supports the local economy.

"Obviously being an Oregonian myself, we understand the importance and impact of salmon to the region and how important the Coho salmon are to the Coos Bay area," said Grzybicki.

Jennifer Schmitt works for Coos Watershed and the Oregon Institute of Marine Biology, but she helped instruct the students for this project.

"They gained so much experience that even as a biologist, I didn't gain except through a work job and this was more of a classroom experience. They got a very diverse array of experiences out in the field," Schmitt said.

The grant included a $1,500 stipend for each student.

Schmitt says some of the students wouldn't have been able to take the class without it.

"It made the difference between either working part time jobs at local places throughout the community, or being able to go to school, and this grant was really important for that," said biology student, Amanda Beck.

After earning a Bachelor's Degree, Beck hopes to work for the Coos Watershed or Oregon Fish and