Umpqua Watersheds Blog

Education, Education-Committee Chair updates

Education Update

Published March 12th, 2024 in Education, Education-Committee Chair updates

by Cindy Haws

Winter and Wetlands: Who Would Think They Go Together? Oh yeah, chest waders and chilly water….AND The BEAVER

This quarter, education activities have trained students, educators, and citizen volunteers to complete monitoring surveys, count and identify native amphibian egg masses in wetlands. Native lentic water-dependent amphibians have been seriously impacted by invasive fish, bullfrogs, and other human impacts, including recreation access, threats from outlet stream head cut erosion, and structural modifications to the wetlands. Since I teach principles of fisheries and wildlife conservation at Umpqua Community College, I recruit student volunteers interested in a career in natural resources to help conduct the monitoring and learn about wetland ecosystem composition, structures, and functions. We had at least 12 student volunteers, three educators, and one UW citizen volunteer in the effort.

We worked with Yoncalla High Natural Resources teacher Jannelle Wilde and students in two of her classes surveying at Susan Applegate’s, one of the 3 wetlands we are monitoring. Along with taking down data on egg masses to estimate population conditions, we discuss the conditions of the habitat/ecosystem we are surveying. This gives students great experience for their resumes and our community volunteers learn firsthand what the issues and concerns are in regards to these wetlands.  After all, if you don’t go and stand next to one, you may not know that it is functioning as a population sink for our native species, and that it is highly modified and may be going through major biodiversity loss and eutrophic processes affecting water quality and carbon storage.

Why Winter? Because our native low to mid-elevation amphibians evolved to deal with our wet winters and very dry summers with drought cycles that can dry up most of the key habitat they need before metamorphosis. If you would like to learn more about the precarious situation our Umpqua Basin wetlands are in, please join us for upcoming volunteer work in May through the summer at Shadow Wetland where we will be working to remove invasive small-mouth bass and bullfrogs, improve wetland/riparian vegetation diversity conditions and help beaver.

Other education activities this quarter include an interview on the Living Downstream radio program on why you should call a “watershed” a “water catchment.”  We are also planning out all of our education programs for 2024-2026 and hoping to receive support to bring on education staff in addition to the AmeriCorps position to improve our education effectiveness and capacity. We are excited about taking on Eastwood Nature Days. This 5 day program will host at least nine schools, and we have at least 16 other education programs we will be conducting throughout the year at schools, in the woods, along the streams and wetlands, and in the wilderness.


We are discussing adding to River Appreciation Day education information activities for youth AND adults around beavers, such as a demo of the structures and fun activities. Ideas?


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