Umpqua Watersheds Blog

Education, Education-AmeriCorps

AmeriCorps Update

Published June 9th, 2024 in Education, Education-AmeriCorps

by Julie Lowe

What an incredible year of education, outreach, and meaningful relationship-building!

This year has offered me the opportunity to work with groups and schools throughout the area, bringing custom science programs to complement teacher curriculum and introducing new directions that highlight the incredible nature surrounding our community. I’ve been able to engage students, teachers, and lifelong learners in hands-on activities that bring the science of our watershed to life and empower individuals with the knowledge and tools to become effective stewards of the environment.

With the participation of incredible and knowledgeable individuals and board members of Umpqua Watersheds, we have provided immersive experiences from workshops to field trips that foster a deep understanding and appreciation of our natural environment. All of these activities fall under our SEEDS program – Science and Environmental Education Discovery Series.

Our outreach efforts have been equally transformative. We have reached out to diverse communities, forging partnerships that extend our mission beyond traditional boundaries. Through public events, community cleanups, and collaborative projects, we have brought people together to work towards common environmental goals. These initiatives have not only raised awareness but also inspired action, creating a ripple effect of positive change throughout our watershed.
While the focus of our work is the Umpqua Watershed, creating relationships with groups outside of our traditional range provides the opportunity to gain unique perspectives, learn new strategies, and expand our thinking and potential. Partnering with the Western Beaver Coalition in the Oregon High Desert region is just such an opportunity. I was able to bring the stream table to their event to share with rural kids the value of the beaver in the high desert ecosystem.


We will continue to collaborate with them and share information and strategies as they begin beaver survey work there, at the same time that we begin to implement our beaver survey/recovery grant work here in the Umpqua Watershed.


In collaboration with Cindy Haws of UNLSH, not only have I had the opportunity to work on wetland restoration projects myself, but to take others into the field, giving them a hands-on exposure to gain practical knowledge and a deeper understanding of the vital processes involved in preserving and rehabilitating our wetlands. The wetlands have benefited as much as the volunteers who have gained meaningful experiences and knowledge.


Our MLK day was a highlight this year, bringing 160 people together from ages 3 to over 80, representing multiple organizations and community groups from high schools, the community college, associations, special interest groups, local clubs, and local businesses. The Douglas County Master Gardeners opened up their shed of tools for us to allow us to expand the focus from cleanup to invasive plant removal, and we received water and food donations from area businesses to support the efforts of our volunteers.


I was delighted to take on and manage the Eastwood Nature Days this year, which will be a transformational undertaking for Umpqua Watershed for years to come. Through this recurring endeavor, we are now positioned to directly touch and enrich the lives and experiences of 450 kids and their families in a week of hands-on educational experiences in the outdoors. But beyond that, it provides us with a platform from which to springboard, opening the door to numerous other projects and initiatives for expanding growth and development. This will allow us to launch a multitude of new endeavors to inspire, engage, and act as a catalyst, paving the way for a future filled with opportunities for impactful education and meaningful service.

Crystal Falls Water, Old Soul Pizza, Bob’s Deli, and Tino’s Tacos donated food for our teachers, and water for all 450 participants, and Territorial Seeds and the art department of UCC donated materials for our lessons. Teachers and volunteers contributed in excess of 300 hours of their time to make this event a success.

The radio show Living Downstream is an activity that I intend to continue beyond my initial year of service through Americorps.  I am eternally amazed at the level of expertise and significance of the individuals who are willing to give me an hour of their time to share their insights, knowledge, guidance, and wisdom on the radio show. Their generosity in imparting their specialized knowledge, their willingness to engage in meaningful dialogue, and their readiness to provide guidance are truly invaluable. Each guest brings a wealth of experience and a unique perspective, enriching our discussions and providing our listeners with profound understanding and inspiration.

For me, the year can be summed up by the logo and tagline I designed to represent my focus: Part of the Ripple Effect. With the magnificent lamprey as a mascot, the logo represents how small efforts can spark curiosity, inspire action and empower individuals with the skills, knowledge and motivation to make positive changes in their own lives and the community in which we live. Informed, engaged, united, enthusiastic and empowered individuals can truly make a significant difference.


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