“Busy as a beaver’ has been both my motto and theme these past few months working in the west Eugene wetlands. Though summer months slow down a bit for us on the field trip end of things with schools on break, we keep busy offering library programs, senior living programs, community events and wetland improvement projects.
Each summer, WREN hosts programs at local libraries to connect kids with nature and offer a free event for families. This summer’s library theme was ‘building a better future’, so I designed a library program on beavers, nature’s builders. The program introduced kids to the anatomy of beavers, what, how and where they live. The kids had fun dressing up as beavers (donning flippers, raincoat, goggles, and popsicle stick teeth) and working together to build a successful dam—after several not-so-successful attempts. It was great working with families and connecting kids to nature who often don’t have access to programming in the summer due to financial barriers.
Another fun program I’ve enjoyed a lot this summer is working with a local senior living facility to provide both on-site programming and guided walks at a wetland site near their facility. It is inspiring to see so many elders wanting to learn and engage; a great reminder that you’re never old too old to learn! Unlike working with kids, elders have a vast and varied base of knowledge and experiences that they contribute to our talks and walks, often making the program more interesting. I appreciate their insight, honest feedback and general enthusiasm connecting with nature and I am looking forward to a few more programs with them before my time is up here.
Beyond leading walks and programs in the community, I have been busy designing an interpretive trail to compliment the tees at a local disc golf course at one of our wetland sites. Each tee is named for a local flora or fauna, and it is my job—with help from my amazing supervisor—to design the corresponding interpretive sign. It has been a fun but long creative process beginning with preliminary walking the course, photographing each tee, researching facts, and designing the actual content. This project has made me appreciate all those interpretive signs I’ve seen on waysides and tourist attractions! The signs will hopefully be printed and posted this month just in time for National Public Lands Day (NPLD) on September 30th, one of the biggest days of volunteering nationwide! As a public lands steward, it is fitting that I have been helping coordinate our local NPLD and am excited to get volunteers out working and giving back to their public lands and will hopefully be able to show off our newly installed interpretive panels. We’ve already got a lot of sponsors and people interested in helping, so I am hopeful this event will be a success!
These past months have flown by and I am certain that these final two will be a blur. School is back in session and we’ll be starting up field trips and class programs once more as well as tabling community events and helping the BLM with some small projects. I have also taken on the job of public relations/social media coordinator and will be supporting any other tasks within my means while the organization looks to hire a new volunteer and program coordinator. My wonderful supervisor left this month to go on to get her PhD, but I am thankful for all of the support, knowledge and encouragement she shared with me in our time working together. I hope to continue to soak up every opportunity I can as a public lands steward and stay present in these final months of my service.