AmeriCorps: Education Spotlight
by Robyn Bath-Rosenfeld
The New Year is off to an amazing start in my role as the Environmental Educator and Outreach Leader. On January 20th for MLK Day, I organized our annual river clean up with fellow-AmeriCorps Janelle Polcyn from the BlueZones Project. At Gaddis Park in Roseburg, over 110 volunteers came out on a beautiful day to collect trash and remove invasive blackberry! In this short time, the power of volunteerism came through as we collected over 3000 pounds of trash and cleared 25 square feet of invasive plants. This amazing event was possible through partnership with the City of Roseburg, Douglas ESD, SOLVE Oregon and United Communities AmeriCorps. We hope you will join us next year on MLK Day for another day on in the name of community service!
In environmental education, another Science Wednesday program has wrapped up at Hucrest Elementary School. Seventeen 5th graders worked through experiments and analysis to solve a watershed environmental mystery. Students learned concepts in water quality testing (including erosion, phosphates and nitrates), bio indicators, wildlife monitoring and navigation. Ultimately, together we solved the mystery, revealing that not just one person, but all of us are responsible for the health of our rivers and the creatures that inhabit it! Science Wednesday will be coming to Eastwood Elementary later this Spring.
I had the chance to return to Joseph Lane Middle School in January for a 2-day lesson on invasive species. Students became experts in some of our local “terrors,” including nutria, blackberry, scotch broom and European starlings. They then played a board game where the goal was to be an encroaching invasive plants and animals and take over pristine habitat – game cards taught them more facts about how invasive species are dispersed and what we can do to prevent further ecosystem disruption in the future.
During Forest Thursdays at Boys & Girls Club of the Umpqua Valley, students are building bird boxes to put out in the club’s garden this spring. At Lincoln Middle School’s Trail Tuesdays, the students are currently studying erosion, human impacts and plant life cycles. We are beginning to analyze data that were gathered in the fall to make decisions about how to improve the health of the school’s nature trail. Last week the 6th graders went bird watching and identified 12 different species right in the school’s backyard!
Do you know any outdoor-minded youth between the ages of 9 and 17 who would enjoy a weekend camping in the woods? Our annual Twin Lakes Youth Wilderness Camp Out is taking place July 24th-26th, 2020. Ages 12-17 are welcome unaccompanied and ages 9-11 are welcome with an adult chaperone. The weekend will include hiking, swimming, exploring and fireside chats about astronomy, botany and wildlife biology! Contact our office for more information and an application. $25 fee covers food, transportation and supplies.
To learn more about our education programs, visit our website, read my Education-AmeriCorps blog and come see my presentation at our annual Banquet on April 4th at Umpqua Community College.