FOCUS (Forests, Organisms, Creeks, yoU Study)


Students and instructors hike along the Bird Loop trail while looking for signs of wildlife.

The FOCUS (Forest, Organisms, Creeks yoU Study) program brings students, in grades 3-4, into a natural setting for hands-on scientific learning experiences. The program at Beazell Memorial Forest, northwest of Philomath, OR in Kings Valley, is a partnership between OSU Extension Service Benton County and Benton County Natural Areas and Parks. FOCUS is a 4-H school enrichment program. The  education center at Beazell Memorial Forest is used as both a base for the students and as indoor lab space for observation of macroinvertebrates.

Students examine a piece of decaying wood from inside the nurse log along Plunkett Creek at Beazell Memorial Forest.

FOCUS Program Study Topics:

  • Emphasis on Douglas-fir/oak forest, oak savanna, and riparian ecosystems
  • Understanding of diverse wildlife habitats and native biodiversity
  • Emphasis on critical thinking skills
  • Explore food chain/food web interactions of native species
  • Learn about biological indicators of environment quality


Dates Just Announced: FOCUS 2018

Dates: April 24 & 26, May 15 & 17

Registration information will be available soon! Any questions can be sent to Maggie Livesay by email.

Two students examine an oak gall during their wildlife investigations hike.

FOCUS students explored Beazell Memorial Forest through four main activities: a study of the water quality of Plunkett Creek, bird habitat and birding with binoculars, a survey of lichen presence at Beazell, and a wildlife investigations hike to look for traces of local wildlife. 

Students were also encouraged to use hearing and smell as well as sight to make observations about the environment they were in and how their observations changed throughout the day.




Students listen and record the sounds they hear around them.

Here’s what teachers had to say about the experience:

“Hands-on learning is engaging and my students easily retained new information more quickly than in the classroom.”—Amber Eaton, Blodgett Elementary

“Bring your 3rd Grade life science to life.” –Gerhard Behrens, Adams Elementary

“The program was well organized and smoothly run. The instructors were knowledgeable and patient with the students.”—Jennifer House, Philomath Elementary

“Anything we can do to get [our students] hands on, real life experience is important.”—Susan Reeves, Adams Elementary

“I would love to do this trip again. It was well-developed, child-centered, and developmentally appropriate.”—Amber Eaton, Blodgett Elementary

See the article about FOCUS from the Gazette Times.

Any questions about FOCUS or how to get involved can be directed to Maggie.

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