2018 End of Year Report

2018 was another year of growth for Outdoor Education Adventures, with over 2000 Yamhill County residents of all ages participating in adventures with us. In the spring we hired an intern, Linfield College Senior “Perri,” to help us prepare for our summer programs. We also added a week of summer camp, plus a new program, “No School Adventures.” These single-day programs are for days such as teacher-in-service days and other non-holiday, no-school days; as with our other camps, homeschooled students are also welcome to attend.

In the spring, Outdoor Education Adventures provided educational programs to youth and families in Yamhill County. In addition, OEA assisted Nature’s Ways with Outdoor Science programs for Newberg’s “CARE” after school program, Dayton kindergarten, and Yamhill Carlton Together Cares “YC After 3” program.

In early March, OEA volunteered with the Yamhill Soil and Water Conservation District’s (YSWCD) Native Plant Sale. During Spring Break in March, we held our annual Spring Break Adventure at Miller Woods Conservation Area. Fourteen children ages 5-9 spent two days exploring the early spring forest and ponds.

  

In April we set up a nature science table and led nature walks for families during the YSWCD’s Annual Earth Day Celebration at Miller Woods. Over 150 families (more than 500 individuals) participated in the event, most of whom either visited our table or joined us on a nature walk to learn about local wildlife and plants.

The next day, OEA was invited to participate in Erath Vineyard’s Earth Day Celebration, where we educated visitors through hands-on experiences.

Also in April, Theresa took her Nature Play program to the preschool at Sue Buel Elementary School in McMinnville. 36 students participated in classroom activities about insects and a bug hunt on their school grounds. Neyssa spent a Saturday afternoon at Hopscotch Toys and Games, presenting native animals and plants to shop visitors.

In May we participated in the 57th Annual Cruickshank Woodland Tour in McMinnville, organized by the Yamhill Soil and Water Conservation District. Over a two day period, 587 fifth grade students visited six educational stations. Neyssa ran the wildlife station where she shared information about our relationships with local wildlife and plants. OEA’s participation in the YWSCD’s events was made possible partly through funding provided by the Yamhill Watershed Stewardship Fund (YWSF).

May 24th, Theresa and our intern, Perri, presented a bird adaptation lesson to the 2nd grade students at Yamhill Carlton Elementary school. 63 students participated in classroom lessons and a bird walk around their school. Part of the funding for this presentation came from the YWSF.

June through August, OEA put on Summer Camp Adventures for 60 children ages 5-12.  Camp scholarships, provided by the YWSF, were awarded to six children from families in need of assistance. Scholarship amounts varied based on each families needs.  We are very grateful to be able to offer these funds to camp participants. We want nature experiences, such as the ones we facilitate at camp, to be available to all and providing financial assistance to those who need it is an important step in reaching that goal.

During the summer we also ran two nature science programs at McMinnville Library, and several Nature Play walks for 2-5 year olds. During Nature Play walks, parents learn how to help their little ones explore the natural world in a fun, safe, and respectful manner. Older siblings sometimes also attend.  

The autumn months did not find us slowing down. OEA assisted Nature’s Ways with programs for Dayton Kindergarten classes and McMinnville Parks and Recreation’s KOB after school program as well as running our own programs.

In November and early December, OEA facilitated seven days of Salmon Watch field trips for 188 middle and high school students from McMinnville. Students were bussed to the Nestucca River where they participated in four hands-on learning activities: salmon biology, macroinvertebrate identification, water quality monitoring, and riparian zone observation/nature connection.

Picture of salmon carcasses Students learning about salmon biology with salmon carcass Students looking for macroinvertebrates Students running a water quality test

Student assessments revealed that more than 70% of students gained an understanding of the salmon life cycle and the importance of salmon as keystone organisms. They also showed an increased understanding of the importance of watershed health and different ways to assess water quality, as well as basic principles of riparian ecology and its role in a healthy river ecosystem.

Nineteen volunteer educators ran the station activities, providing students the opportunity to explore their natural environment by wading into the river and catching aquatic macroinvertebrates; testing pH, temperature, and dissolved oxygen; looking and listening for indications of healthy riparian habitat; and learning about the life cycle and biology of salmon, and their keystone role in Northwest ecosystems through examination of a salmon carcass.

The nineteen volunteer educators included staff from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW), US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), US Army, Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), and Yamhill Soil & Water Conservation District as well as volunteers from the community who have a passion for the outdoors and educating others about the importance of caring for our natural resources.  Community volunteers were given at least three hours of hands-on training before teaching their first program; additional training through “shadowing” another teacher was provided as needed. We also had five high school volunteers from McMinnville High School who assisted with some of the middle school field trips.

In addition to the volunteer time, other in-kind and match donations were provided, as well as funding. The World Salmon Council provided technical support and teaching materials. ODFW’s Cedar Creek Fish Hatchery provided the salmon carcasses the students observed during the salmon biology activity. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) provided the venue for the event. Supplementary teaching materials and props were provided by ODFW and USFWS. Funding for supplies, bussing, and substitute teachers was provided by the YWSF, Oregon Wildlife Foundation, and Spirit Mountain Community Fund.

We are so grateful for all of the support and assistance we’ve received and looking forward to another year of making a positive impact on the world.

This coming year we’re adding summer staff, more program days, reaching out to more schools to provide field trip opportunities, and looking for venues that will help us build a wider variety of programs. We’re also looking to diversify our funding portfolio to make OEA more sustainable.

Are you interested in helping build OEA so we can provide outdoor education adventures to more Yamhill County residents? Please contact us and let us know how you want to help.