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The YCA, a few Hayward native American 8th graders, and NASA

Bushnick | Published on 3/3/2021



A couple weeks ago, I did something very gratifying to say the least. Since founding the Youth Conservation Alliance in 2010, the entire YCA volunteer staff has been working with schools, biologists and State fish hatcheries for over a decade. For me, much of this was to pursue one of my passions, studying fish! I think I was a Dolphin or Muskie in my past life. Maybe a combo of both; a DOLPHSKI….?


Over the years as I did all of this, I never could have imagined I’d be analyzing fish eggs for the purpose of studying a food source for the International Space Station 220 miles over head. Specifically, how fertilized fish eggs develop in micro-gravity.


Before I go any further, there were a lot of people involved in this awesome project, most importantly, a team of 8th graders (Evan, Thomas, and Kane) from the LCO Ojibwe Reservation in Hayward, WI. What I have seen dealing with educators for over 10 years is behind every great student, is a passionate, kind-hearted teacher making all the difference in a kids' world.


My part, was to work with the kids using the YCA’s microscopes to view and document fish egg development. This project has gone on for roughly a year with my refrigerator being home to many fish eggs. Think of me as “the Fish-Egg-Whisperer.”


The SpaceX Falcon-9 rocket launch with the Dragon-2 capsule occurred on Dec 6th 2020, with the fish eggs from Hayward on board! Overall, this was a Space Station re-supply mission with many experiments on board. The eggs went to the Space Station for a few weeks, had a party, and returned safely back to earth on January 14, 2021. The eggs returned to Hayward on January 21.


Now it’s time to take a look! I must say, cutting open sealed test-tubes with fish eggs in them that you know were in Hayward, then to outer space, then back to Hayward is pretty friggin cool for lack of a better way to describe it; A little humbling too.

One of the underlying goals here, is to try and get a fertilized egg to hatch in space. I refer to it as “test tube to dinner plate.” One of the most important things with rockets is weight. Think of the advantages it gives you if you don’t have to send up all that heavy frozen food on the rocket. All you send up are tiny fertilized eggs and grow them in space in a fish tank. Smart right?


I've included a few pics sent to me by NASA of the Dragon Capsule docking to the space station. WAY-COOL!


The eggs we worked with were Trout eggs. The primary reasons for going with the Trout were: They are readily available, they do well in cold weather conditions, they grow fast, and they have great nutritional value.


This project was funded by: The NASA Goddard Space Center, LCO College, LCO Tribal Governing Board, WI Space Grant Consortium, Student Spaceflight Experiments Program, Subaru, Trout Lodge Hendrix Genetics.


Thanks to all of you who have donated and supported the YCA over the past decade. What a ride it has been; a ride all the way into space!


Donations are always welcome... 2020 was not the greatest year in terms of donations for obvious reasons. There are a lot of people hurting right now. But, we move forward despite our obstacles because we need to. Educating kids about the environment is simply what we do.

To donate:


Kevin Bushnick

Youth Conservation Alliance

Phone: 847.987.3622