Columbia Slough Part IV – Environmental Education

My Volunteer Experience

The Columbia Slough Watershed Council (CSWC) works directly with several of my passions: outdoor place-based education, service learning projects and stewardship. I volunteered with their Slough School education program, which works with students in the surrounding schools.

volunteerStaff members visit classrooms and teach students  a wide range of topics, such as water quality and native plant species. Students also come to restoration sites to learn in the natural environment. The CSWC provides opportunities for service learning projects (planting native plants), and learning about the eco-systems through water chemistry tests, observing micro-invertebrates, and identifying species and habitats.

                                                             -Whitaker Ponds-Outdoor Classroom-4th Graders-

I volunteered at a community site near Fairview (just off I-84) with a 5th grade class. The students planted native species to beautify the area and create a sound barrier next to a busy road. They also did water chemistry tests to explore Ph, oxygen, and temperature; learning how these things effect water quality.

IMG_0073

A couple of the students grew tired of the project quickly, but the vast majority were thrilled to be outside, getting their hands dirty, and helping their community.

One student said, “I wish I could do this every day!”

Since the class wasn’t able to plant all the plants on site that morning, many of the students were asking to return the following day to “finish the job.”  

Almost all of them wanted to stay longer, a testament to the power of placed-based education! 

Plants

Many of the field trips take place at Whitaker Ponds, (also the CSWC office site). Students have planted hundreds of native species there this year. I volunteered at this site twice, assisting with plantings, water quality tests, and micro-invertebrate studies.

It’s so great to watch the children become scientists and stewards, enjoying their natural world.

kids planting

If you are a teacher interested in having your class volunteer with the CSWC and creating a plan of study with the Slough School, contact:

Sheilagh Diez, Slough School Education Director
Phone: (503) 281-1132
email: sheilagh.diez@columbiaslough.org

(Note: The program fills quickly. I recommend contacting her spring/summer before the school year begins.)

A big thank you to the staff and volunteers at CSWC for all they do with the community and fostering a sense of stewardship with our youth! It was fabulous getting to know your organization. 


Whitaker Slough
-Whitaker Slough and Canoe Launch-

Note: I encourage you to check out Whitaker Ponds. Located at 7040 NE 47 Ave, a ¼ mile north of Columbia Blvd., The area is a pubic park, with two ponds, a canoe launch into Whitaker Slough and a half mile loop trail. Although it’s a small pocket of nature in the middle of industrial Portland, it’s home to many species. On a recent birding event I attended there, we saw 35 species of birds in just two hours! (FYI- No dogs allowed)

Watch this great 5-minute documentary on Whitaker Ponds – really well done.

Map of Ponds

Suggested Reading Material on children and the outdoors: Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv- check it out here.

Want to Learn more about the CSWC and the Columbia Slough? Check out my other posts in this four-post series.

1. Columbia Slough – What is it?

2. Columbia Slough Part II – Natural Surroundings Education

3. Columbia Slough Part III – A Peak Behind the Scenes (The Interview)

 

Published by heathercyrus

I have lived in the Pacific Northwest nearly my whole life and was raised to appreciate and enjoy the natural world. My passion for the environment and studying environmental justice, eco-tourism, green design, renewable energy, green cities, biodiversity, and biology led me to earn a Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Studies. My knack for event planning, community organizing and media communications led me to pursue a degree in Journalism & Communications with a concentration in Public Relations. My two degrees dovetail nicely, providing me the tools to play my part in protecting natural areas in a constantly changing world of communications. I believe strongly in environmental education, and communicating the beauty and necessity of local stewardship. Being a mother is a daily reminder of the importance to lead by example for our younger generations. I strive to do all I can in my daily activities to make healthy choices for my community and family. I am Currently Seeking Employment! If you have a lead on a position that sounds like a good fit, please keep me in mind and let me know! I am currently in Portland Oregon, but willing to relocate for the right position. I’m interested in the business sector as well as non-profit or freelance work. I am available to guest blog regularly, part-time or project based for your company or organization. In the end, I have a lot of passion, leadership and drive to make a difference, and I can’t wait to start! See my PORTFOLIO section on heathercyrus.com for a resume and samples of work.

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