……By Cindy Haws
As the new Education Chair at Umpqua Watersheds, I have started in high gear. Over a decade ago, I was Executive Director and president. Since leaving the leadership of Umpqua Watersheds, I started an educational group for youth called UNLSH (Umpqua Natural Leadership Science Hub). UNLSH’s mission is to provide hands-on learning and leadership opportunities to students and communities in south Douglas County, Oregon, by providing educators with resources, training, and mentorship to develop natural science curriculum. I rejoined the CORE team in January as the Education chair. I currently teach wildlife biology at Umpqua Community College (UCC).
It has been a busy beginning in 2023. Our education partnership community is growing in volunteers, teachers, natural science professionals, and supporters. Many educational events are planned, and many more opportunities for effective participation thanks to the expanded capacity partnerships have afforded. We are implementing our programs and planning new ones with our partners and the mobile science lab we are building. Our partners include Umpqua Valley Audubon, Umpqua Natural Leadership Science Hub, Friends of Mildred Kanipe Park, State and Federal Agencies, Umpqua Community College, and an expanding list of participating schools and student volunteers.
In January and February, we accomplished seven wetland monitoring surveys with our partners at two different wetlands in connection with the removal of invasive species and wetland habitat revitalization. Participants include student volunteers from UCC and other higher education organizations, Yoncalla High School, teachers, and educators.
Another exciting event was the arrival of the Emriver EM2 portable stream table. We will be integrating this table into our outdoor and school events. The Emriver stream table is perfect for demonstrating river science and conservation principles to audiences of all ages. The table is one of many learning tools and materials we will stock this year in the mobile science lab. We are still looking for a 5×8 cargo trailer to serve as the lab vehicle.
In the second week of May, we will cohost the Ecology and Management of Amphibians and Reptiles of SW Oregon, focusing on stream amphibians. The non-profit Northwest Ecological Research Institute in Portland is the main host, funded by the Oregon Wildlife and Recreation Program. The one-day conference will be at UCC and is spearheaded by Dr. Bruce Bury, a retired herpetologist, and his daughter, Dr. Gwen Bury, a post-doc with US Forest Service. Community professionals in wildlife at various agencies and educational institutions will be invited. A field trip is planned for the following day. We will have more information in Watershed Moments in the next few months. UCC, Umpqua Watersheds, and UNLSH are supporting the event.