It’s been almost four months since I joined the United Communities AmeriCorps and Umpqua Watersheds teams as an Environmental Education and Outreach Leader. In this time, I’ve had the delight of being introduced to all sorts of fun and important indoor and outdoor activities, such as helping to host 99.7 KQUA Living Downstream and assisting with the Archie Creek restoration project. Through my work alongside colleagues, students, and community volunteers, I’ve met new and interesting people of all ages and backgrounds! As important as Umpqua Watersheds’ work is for the environment and our community, it has also had a great impact on me. I’ve already gained a great deal of life and career experience, such as the opportunity to practice my organizational skills, networking skills, leadership, and more.
Living Downstream Radio Show
I’ve had the opportunity to interview some amazing people in my new hosting role. The first episode that I had a hand in making was an interview with a member of the Forest Waters Coalition, Samantha Krop. This was my first taste of preparing questions, editing audio, and of course, actually interviewing someone! The position of host was one of the roles I was most apprehensive about, but Sam and every interviewee since have been wonderful and I’m grateful for their patience as I learn, adapt, and build confidence. Following Sam, I had a wonderful interview with Mark Lenihan, the founder of PFLAG Roseburg, a group for members of the LGBTQ+ community and allies, along with Danielle Wene and Jamie Osborne, owners of a small art business called Passion Drawn in Ink who will be at the pride parade this summer.
This was our first foray into Diversity/Equity/Inclusion content, and we want to include more in our activities going forward. Returning to more environment-related topics for the next two episodes, I interviewed two members of Wildlife Images Rehabilitation and Education Center, Kaitlynn Scheffler and Billy Crawford, about their work and conservation knowledge. That episode also featured David James, lepidopterist and WSU professor, who shared information about butterflies and moths. Most recently aired was an interview with Alan Lacy, a wildlife videographer, who shared some insight into his line of work.
I have been developing my leadership skills with the help and guidance of Fremont Natural Resources Teacher, Robyn Bath. Together, we planned and initiated “Environmental Detectives,” a series of activities for middle school-aged students that educates about river health and pollution in a fun and imaginative way by assigning students the role of detective to investigate a mass fish die-off event in a fictional area. To maximize engagement and accessibility, I created a map diorama of the fictional landscape so that vision-impaired students could touch and feel the area. While I am not very familiar with that type of crafting, it turned out well and was much appreciated! I also crafted small aquatic creatures out of clay so that these students could determine species abundance in the fictional waterways. The clay creatures are more suited to handling than the live river snails and caddisfly larvae that I also brought in for the students to interact with! The live aquatic invertebrates were well received and opened up conversations around filter-feeding, camouflage, and shell building that I was pleased to be a part of.
In addition to my work at Fremont Middle school, I’m preparing to get involved with Alexandra Harding’s class at Jolane Middle School. We’ve discussed ways in which Umpqua Watersheds can contribute, including activities using animal skull models, Environmental Detectives, and owl pellet dissection. Whatever we end up going with, I can’t wait to support Alexandra in the education of our local youth about fun environmental topics! Also coming up is Umpqua Watersheds’ Kids for Nature program which is making a return this year. I will be discussing the details of that return soon with Emily, the originator, and her father, Tony Cannon. There’s a lot of cool education work happening, and I look forward to all of it.
Martin Luther King Jr Day Park & River Cleanup
Coordinating the Martin Luther King Jr Day Park and River Cleanup event in January was my first experience organizing a large team of volunteers. Over the course of four hours, we made a breathtaking difference at Stewart Park. We picked up everything from unidentified piles of goop to an entire waterlogged sleeping bag and shopping cart, and by the time we were finishing up volunteers were struggling to find trash to pick up! I personally consider that event a great success, both for the environment and for myself. A coordinator does more than meets the eye to organize such an event. I filled out paperwork, sourced materials like trash bags and coffee-making supplies, and contacted a worker from the City of Roseburg for help with things like permits and dumpsters. Thank you to Tracy Pope! Another piece of the puzzle was advertising. I got to practice making and posting both physical and virtual posters, reached out to green-minded friends to ask them to attend and spread the word, and of course, aired the information on the Living Downstream! It all came together in the end, and I came out of it with more knowledge and confidence to face the next event that I’ll coordinate.