AmeriCorps Update Winter 2023
What a difference a couple of months can make! As the “new” Americorps member of Umpqua Watersheds, I feel I have found my home. I am so excited about the work that has been accomplished and the efforts to which I’ve been able to contribute. As the temperature drops and the watershed transforms into a serene and enchanting wonderland, I feel like we are stepping into top gear as we begin our Strategic Planning process, implement new programs, and take critical next steps to enhance the impacts of our current endeavors. To maximize my contributions to the mission of Umpqua Watersheds, we are implementing a new program that will expand my efforts beyond the classroom to address the interests and needs of the greater community. The new watershed Science and Environmental Education and Discovery Series (SEEDS) program is designed for the whole community as a multifaceted campaign to inspire, educate, support, and entertain each member of the watershed family from the very young and up. Many efforts under this comprehensive initiative are underway, with others still in the planning and implementation phase.
This umbrella program will inspire our community members with opportunities and experiences that celebrate the beauty and richness of our watershed. For example, our Mushroom Walk was attended by over 50 enthusiasts ranging from 3 years old to over 75. Guided by enthusiast Geoff Niles, we explored and identified mushrooms at Iverson Park for two hours. Other experiential events such as foraging, nature journaling, tracking spawning salmon, forest therapy, and snowshoeing at Crater Lake are being planned.
SEEDS also provides interactive and educational opportunities as we visit classrooms, conferences, and other forums to educate students and adults alike about the workings of an effective watershed. Knowledge is power, and we are committed to empowering our community with insights into watershed dynamics, environmental best practices, and sustainable living.
For example, the working Water Stream and Water Table models are portable, hands-on, practical demonstrations of fluid dynamics that explore how water moves, forms, and structures our watershed, emphasizing water catchment. These models allow participants to actually see and manipulate pieces of our water catchment system to watch in real time how an effective watershed should work or, conversely, doesn’t work. The water table model allows participants to track contaminants in our water table, demonstrating how contaminants spread throughout the watershed, moving down and up through sediment. Thanks to Cindy Haws of the Umpqua Natural Leadership Science Hub (UNLSH) for leading us with these models and training me in their use!
I am continuing the “Living Downstream” radio program and am seeking input from the community about what they would like to hear. Already this year, I have featured interviews on the Pacific Lamprey (Ralph Lampman and Dave’y Lumin), Invasive Species (Samuel Chan), Maintaining Your Private Property with Ecology in Mind (Matthew Hunter), The Art of Communication (Jean Erickson Walker), Make Art not Trash (Elizabeth Roberts), Water Catchment and the Watersheds (Cindy Haws), Mushroaming (Daniel Winkler), and Forest Therapy (Jesse Remer).
The SEEDS program supports hands-on, field restoration work as we facilitate efforts to “protect the best and restore the rest.” Survey work on Drew Lake in the Umpqua National Forest and restoration work on the Applegate wetland area near Yoncalla continues to remove invasive species, reseed with native species, and encourage the recovery of native fauna as we work to return these places, as much as possible to their original, healthy working states. Our hands-on educational opportunities will continue with focused sessions in the field for college-aged students with a partnership with UCC on technologies surrounding biochar, GIS, aquatic buffers, and fire mitigation. We are also continuing our efforts to get students into the field to learn firsthand about the beauty of their watershed.
Finally, the SEEDS program provides community engagement opportunities to unwind and celebrate the Umpqua Watersheds community with entertaining events such as the Umpqua BrewFest, Martin Luther King Jr. River Cleanup Service Day, Umpqua Outback Stage and Music Events, Twin Lakes camping weekend, Living Downstream Radio program, and Artist Exhibits. SEEDS is meant to “protect the best and restore the rest” of our beautiful Umpqua Watershed and is designed to enrich, engage, and strengthen our community bonds. I’m so excited to see where this year will take us and am thrilled to be involved!