Establishing an Education and Outreach Program in the Applegate
Salmon enthusiasts, Taylor Cooper and Owen Stabach, create salmon hats at the APWC booth, Bear Creek Fall Festival Medford, October 19, 2019
The Applegate Partnership & Watershed Council (APWC) is developing an Education and Outreach Program (EOP) that provides hands-on learning opportunities for youth and the public. The program includes watershed education for students, opportunities for interns, and public outreach at various events. The goals are to build support for and knowledge of the Applegate and the Rogue River watersheds, and to offer opportunities for people to make a positive difference for local wildlife and the environment.
Take it outside! The APWC is ramping up partnerships with local schools to get students outside and to provide them with outdoor education experiences they won’t soon forget. Students first learn about their watershed in the classroom and then visit local riverfront parks, Cantrall Buckley Park or Provolt Seed Orchard, for a field trip to learn about river systems, the life cycle of salmon, the health of wildlife habitats, and ways to make a positive impact. Wading knee deep in the river, and hunting for insects and signs of healthy salmon habitat keeps students excited about learning. The word watershed comes alive when kids experience it first-hand. Students feel connected to their local rivers and forests by helping to plant native plants, remove invasive plants, collect data on the health of the ecosystem, and build and place bird and bat boxes in the Applegate Valley.
Investing in the community: Through education and funding, the APWC is able to utilize local professional expertise, and bring resources through student internships. For example, the APWC has been working with local woodworker, Tommy Maddox, owner of 4M Timber, to plan the construction of bird and bat box kits for student service projects with Ruch Outdoor Community School (ROCS). Through work with the Southern Oregon University Environmental Education Program (SOU EE Program) the APWC is providing internship positions in the field, like vegetation restoration and monitoring, as well as positions in outdoor education and public outreach. Currently, SOU EE Intern, Whitney Anderson is working with the eighth-grade class at ROCS to provide local plant identification activities and geocaching for upcoming hikes. She is also helping with public outreach. These are examples of win-win relationships.
Reach out! Playing “Match the Scat” games, planting tree shoots, and designing salmon hats are sure-fire ways to capture the public’s attention. Through these kinds of engaging activities, the APWC is providing education about how to protect wildlife habitat, as well as promoting the Applegate Valley in general. Recently, the APWC had a booth at the Bear Creek Fall Festival in Medford. People left wearing silly salmon hats and carrying their willow tree plantings with smiles on their faces. In addition, the APWC provides lectures throughout the year. Don’t miss Well Water Warriors (Formerly known as Groundwater Protection Ninjas) on January 16th. Bring your well water sample for testing and find out what’s in your water! Check the APWC website for time and location details, or look for the ad in this issue of the Applegater.
More opportunities for collaboration: APWC is partnering with ROCS, Well Water Warriors (Formerly known as the Ground Water Protection Ninjas), Salmon Watch Program, SOU EE Program, Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife (ODFW), Jackson County, Bureau of Land Management (BLM), SOLVE, & Rooted in Hope.
Funding for the pilot program this year is made possible by:
A note from the new APWC EOP Director, Jennifer Payne: I am excited to develop the program because with full funding we can provide services for all Applegate Valley schools, bring students from other areas to experience our valley’s natural beauty, provide a presence for the Applegate Valley at regional public events, and create a pipeline for more resources for the local environment. I am currently pursuing funding from both private and public sources. For more information and/or to donate to this new program, contact Jennifer Payne, at email@example.com.
Whitney Anderson, SOU EE Intern, models salmon hat fashion at the APWC outreach booth, Bear Creek Fall Festival, Medford, October 19, 2019.