Education Update-Fall 2023
UW Education committee and volunteers have been very busy this quarter having connected with 606 youth, 15 teachers/youth program instructors, and 44 adults. Totaling up the year so far we connected with 600+ youth, 50 adults and worked with 11+ teachers and program instructors. I would like to thank Jessica Saxton UW AmeriCorps volunteer as she did a stellar job to make this year so very successful. We implemented multi-day programs such as Eastwood Nature Days, Twin Lakes Campout, and Umpqua Natural Leadership Science Hub (UNLSH) Day Camp as well as supported school programs such as Highland Elementary School & Eastwood School 5th grade Science Camps and Douglas High Invasive Crayfish survey project. We supported Fremont school in a field trip to Dorena Dam conducting a nature walk and scavenger hunt where we learned about a unique effort by the Army Corps of Engineers to improve conditions for salamanders. We also tabled at River Appreciation Day where we presented information on all the different species that rely on the river and demonstrated the new Creative Images ground water model obtained by UNLSH through a grant with Gray Family Foundation.
Highlights of all of these actions were seeing youth get connected to their natural surroundings and start to consider how everything works together. I personally was overjoyed to finally get youth to hike the East Fork of Cow Creek trail during the UNLSH 3 day camp event to see the old forest, riparian and stream habitat and compare it to Myrtle Creek City Evergreen Park riparian and stream conditions where we spent the first 2 days. Yes they got the differences in composition, structure, and function! And they loved the hike into the beautiful forest, played in the stream and didn’t mind hiking back in wet shoes. We got to see a rubber boa, many butterflies and bees, and identify so many different species of plants. The Twin lakes event was also notable with Morgan Fay making a wonderful effort in native plant seed collection while Ken Carloni led his usual amazing hike doing plant identification along the way and also covering topics such as forest ecosystem functions, logging, other human impacts, wildfire, and leave no trace. Larry Broker also led instruction on the geology of the Twin Lakes area. The River Appreciation Day poster describing all of the species reliant on the river and the Creative Images ground water model were very effective in communicating the importance of protecting water resources. Lastly, the EMRiver stream table model was a big success where we used it as students could get the big picture with the stream table and then apply it to the stream when we did activities there.
Umpqua Watersheds education program has worked with so many partners this year. In total thus far we have partnered with 8 schools and organizations. Each partner brings more connections that then bring in more education opportunity and resources. In doing so the programs have become much more enriched with more educational tools and materials, more specialist instruction and many more learning activities resulting in so much more to the people we are serving.
Fall and winter of 2023 and 2024 is going to continue to offer many new and continued environmental education learning opportunities with partners. Our new AmeriCorps volunteer Julie Lowe is already an amazing educator and will bring her enthusiasm and amazing skills to the program. Along with the regular UW education programs we will be working on a new educational opportunity with the Calapooia tribe in Yoncalla in support of their youth camp and with Susan Applegate in support of her wetland and pollinator habitat work. We will also be developing educational activities around the upcoming biannual State of the Beaver Conference put on by the South Umpqua Rural Community Partnership Beaver Advocacy Committee in partnership with the Cow Creek Band of the Umpqua Indians to be held November 13-15th. In 2024 and 2025 major wetland restoration activities will be occurring at Shadow wetland on the Tiller Ranger District of the Umpqua National Forest that will involve education opportunities for all ages.