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4H Wildlife Stewards
Bringing Science and Nature Together...one school at a time.


By Tom Almond
4-H Wildlife Steward
Eagle Creek


Cathy and I are just finishing up our very first year here as 4-H Wildlife Stewards. And as it has turned out, it was a very busy and rewarding year indeed!

Most of our first year has been devoted to the planning process. This was necessary due to the large habitat area we have and the desire to tie the 4-H Wildlife Stewards program to the needs of the teachers. We have also had some problems to deal with concerning our habitat area.

Our habitat area consists of approximately 7 acres of wooded area with an intermittent creek (more on this later). In the early '90s, this area was developed as a Governor's Watershed Enhancement Project. When initial monies ran out, use and maintenance of this area began to decline in the later '90s.

One of the major problems we faced immediately was that the year-round creek running through the habitat area was dry when school started in the fall, began running a bit during the winter, and was dry again by May. Obviously, something has happened upstream to severely change the flow of a normally year-round creek. I have been working with Clackamas County Soil & Water Conservation District to resolve this problem.

The second major problem we have to deal with is that in the latter '90s, blackberries have totally taken over a large portion of the more open areas, including completely covering some of the established trails. The issue at the heart of this problem is that this renders a large portion of the habitat area unusable for education purposes. During the planning process, I suggested removing a portion of these blackberries and developing a native Oregon tree identification area. We are planning on modeling our curriculum for this area after that developed at the John Inskeep Environmental Learning Center in Oregon City. In developing the area in this manner, we hope to accomplish two goals, one, to create a valuable educational resource and two, to eventually shade out the remaining blackberries in the adjacent habitat area. Still, it will take constant efforts by volunteers to keep our blackberry population at a manageable level. We have applied for 3-4 grants to help develop this area and for other projects at the school.

Another project we spent a lot of time on was developing a resource book. We felt there was a need to compile all of the different resources we have available into one book. In this way, teachers and 4-H Wildlife Stewards could have one place to go to look up a subject they are interested in and see all of the activities available, listed with some basic information about each one. The book is categorized by subjects studied at each grade level here at Eagle Creek. Each activity is listed, along with the grade level, time required, number of students, and a brief summary of the activity itself. This book covers activities offered by Project Learning Tree, Oregon Forest Notebook, all of the 4-H Water curriculum, 4-H Earth Sciences curriculum, Project Wild, and various other curricula we have obtained from our studies.

Next fall, we will be initiating an "Adopt a Habitat/Tree" program starting with the first grade. Each class will adopt an area of the habitat and each student will adopt a tree in the area. Each student will observe and record changes in their assigned habitat area over the full six years they are at Eagle Creek School. They will record and store this information in a journal along with any other related projects. First grade students will begin by designing the front cover detailing what they see in their area and the journals will conclude with sixth grade students designing the back cover as they see the habitat area six years later.

Another project we are looking forward to next fall is the startup of our after-school 4-H Nature club. This club will emphasize hands-on education-in-the-field and in the classroom, student presentations, community service, a focus on land environmental issues and a lot of opportunities for student discussion of feelings and issues. As of late, I have become very interested and drawn to the philosophical side of education. An area where there is no right or wrong answers, but the opportunity to learn, form opinions, and validate your side of the issue. This is the direction I would like to take this club. To present the educational opportunity to have children learn about environmental issues, then learn to form and express their own opinions and feelings.

Some of the projects planned for the club next year include:

Check a unit on watersheds including water quality testing experiments on Goose Creek in conjunction with the Clackamas County Soil & Water Conservation District.
Check A unit on the history of timber harvesting in Oregon centered around a model that the club members will build. This display will be accompanied by statistical data and narrative about how and why logging has changed through the years, and a "fun" logging terminology section.
Check A unit on oceanography/estuaries that will include a field trip to the coast.
Check A unit on land use planning in Oregon and its effect on the environment. This will include a presentation to a land use board of dignitaries.
Check Working in our schoolyard habitat area.
Check Community service project at a local park.

While planning has been a big part of our first year, we have also done activities with about 1/2 of the students at Eagle Creek. This number will increase dramatically in the coming school year. This spring, we led the 6th grade in some fun hands-on experiments in erosion and we took the 3rd grade students to Goose Creek to discover aquatic insects in their habitat. It was very surprising to have a student dip her strainer in and come up with a small fish! Fishing has never been that easy for me!

We are rapidly learning that, for us, the education never stops! Since we completed our 4-H Wildlife Stewards training in the fall, we have completed workshops on Project Learning Tree, 4-H Wetland Wonders and Oregon Forest Notebook, 4-H Earth Science curriculum and an Oregon forest history workshop in the Tillamook State Forest.

For helping make our first year at Eagle Creek School a success, we would like to thank the following:

  • Jan Jaqua, Eagle Creek principal
  • Faculty and staff at Eagle Creek School
  • Eagle Creek Parent's Club
  • Clackamas County Soil & Water Conservation District
  • Estacada Ranger Station
  • Cole Gardner
  • Janet Nagele
  • Roger Leathers
  • Eagle Creek Feed Store

Lastly, we are very excited about the upcoming (and our second) year at Eagle Creek School. I hope to keep you informed as we progress, however it may be the school year's end before I get that chance.


4-H Wildlife Stewards, Sunnyside Environmental School, 3421 SE Salmon 1209,
Portland, OR 97214 - 503-916-6074, e-mail: wildifestewards@oregonstate.edu
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