Umpqua Watersheds Blog

Education, Education-AmeriCorps

AmeriCorps Update

Published March 12th, 2024 in Education, Education-AmeriCorps

by Julie Lowe


Winter seems to have passed us by in the blink of an eye, which marks the arrival of spring, my favorite season, just around the riverbend! We had a beautiful kickoff event to celebrate the best of winter spirit with our annual MLK Day of Service. Our incredible community came together with the support of 10 sponsors whose contributions made the MLK Day of Service possible. Their generosity fueled our efforts with tasty treats, revitalizing water, and the tools that made our work possible and exemplified the spirit of community support that makes Roseburg and surrounding areas so special. Over 150 individuals took part in the event, with participants from ages 3 to over 80 representing multiple organizations from high schools, the community college, associations, special interest groups, and local businesses. Our focus was not only on trash cleanup but on invasive plant removal. Every aspect of the event, from logistics to technical plant work, showcased the collective effort and dedication of community members from all walks of life. Whether it was volunteers lending their time and expertise, local businesses generously contributing resources, or attendees enthusiastically participating, each person played a vital role in making the event a resounding success!


With spring in our sights, we’ve begun our work on restoration of wetlands by marking amphibians’ emergence and monitoring their egg masses. Our focus this spring has been the Shadow and Drew wetlands in Tiller and the Applegate wetlands restoration area in Yoncalla. I’ve been thrilled to have the opportunity to engage volunteers in the field as we conduct amphibian surveys and monitor invasive plants and animals in our target areas. From enthusiastic high school and college students eager to gain hands-on experience to adults seeking fulfilling volunteer opportunities, each individual brings their unique talents and perspectives to the table. One of my favorite roles is designing intriguing and meaningful volunteer opportunities for people to make a real difference. Time spent in nature, working hands-on to protect and restore these precious areas, has a profound impact on individuals’ spirits and motivations. Many volunteers report feeling more grounded, centered, and at peace after spending time in the wilderness and seeing the emergence of new life.

A highlight this early spring was the inspirational program presented by the Wilderness Committee featuring the “4 Ladies in Tennis Shoes” – 4 inspiring citizen scientists who surveyed 12,000 acres near Limpy Rock. Through their superb documentation, photography, and data collection, they were able to justify the designation of 1800 acres as a Natural Research Area. I was honored to design the marketing materials and promote the event. I was deeply moved by the love and emotion in the room during the program, especially with the surprise arrival of Jeannie Moore, the leader of the ladies, and the moving flute and drum contributions by Jesse Jackson, president of the Takelma Cultural Center. Nearly 90 community members joined us that evening to celebrate and learn about the proposed Crater Lake Wilderness Area.


I’ll now be turning my focus to the design and planning of the Eastwood Nature Days, for which Umpqua Watersheds has assumed responsibility. This annual event welcomes the third-grade classes from eight Roseburg schools, and we hope to open the event to homeschooled students in the Umpqua Watershed and Cow Creek participants. This incredible program will bring a week of environmental education to the beautiful 40-acre Eastwood Nature area. Topics will include salmon and lamprey, Native American Storytelling and Language, Water Hydrology and Ecology, Animal Adaptations, Beaver, Living Deadwood, Dendrology, and Technology, among others. Each day will have a particular focus and highlight featuring a special topic. We welcome any volunteers who would like to join us that week and share the knowledge and passion for the environment and the watersheds of the Umpqua! We especially welcome teachers who have flexibility in their schedules to join us that week to teach your favorite watershed lessons.


I’ve been creating new interviews for Living Downstream every weekend since October, and I’m eternally grateful to the amazing experts and enthusiasts who have generously given me their time and shared their knowledge. Their willingness to contribute to our environmental education efforts for the community is simply amazing, and I’ve loved the relationships and friendships I’ve formed through this service. Thank you all for listening to the program!


Though these have been our primary areas of focus, I have been taking a series of watershed and science lessons to Maple Corner Montessori, the Umpqua Valley Coop Homeschool community, and a specialized animal adaptations lesson to all of the eighth graders of Jo lane. I was thrilled to represent Umpqua Watersheds at the Beaver conference and showcase the Stream Table and Water Table. I spent a couple of days showing the same to the Yoncalla High School Natural Resources class, and I will be attending the PIELC conference in Eugene. We will be participating in Earth Day events, the YMCA Healthy Kids Day Event, and Kellogg Springs Camp, as well as planning for River Appreciation Day and the annual Twin Lakes Campout. There is so much going on, such an incredible amount of activity and enthusiasm, all fueled by a deep love and synergy for watershed restoration and education. The Umpqua Watershed is truly revitalizing!


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