A major goal of the OSU Extension Service 4-H Environmental Education programs is to increase overall natural science literacy in youth in Benton County. Through a variety of educational efforts, community partnerships and the local support of many associated agencies and organizations our staff is engaging over 1,000 youth/year in learning about and exploring local ecosystems.
4-H Wildlife Steward Youth Summit – a natural science educational event for youth in grades 1-8 to share their research, science inquiry or nature observation project with their peers and the community.
Oregon Season Trackers Climate Change Citizen Science - Collaborative project with OSU Extension Forestry & Natural Resource faculty and staff and HJ Andrews scientists to provide teachers with professional development training and support to implement established National Citizen Science programs in classroom learning (rainfall and plant phenology).
4-H Teen Weedspotters –Bringing Awareness to Action - 8-10 week in-school and/or summer session program for high school youth in rural communities –in partnership with Benton Soil and Water Conservation District and participating science teacher. Participants learn to identify invasive plant species of concern, perform inventory, mapping using GPS, removal and initial restoration on a schoolyard or nearby landowner site.
For Teachers and Community Educators – Each year 2-3, 6-8 hour 4-H Wildlife Steward educator workshops are offered to teachers and community educators at a local natural area. Science content focuses on specific topics (working with youth in outdoor settings, climate change citizen science –phenology, birds, native plants, wetlands, invasive species, forests, etc.).
Natural Resource Educators Working Group – created in 2004, this working group of community environmental educators is led by OSU Extension, Benton County. It brings together over 30 agencies, organizations and non-profits. The focus of the group is to provide a continuum of environmental education opportunities for youth and adults in Benton County.
Get Outdoors Day - is hosted in partnership by OSU College Forests and OSU Extension Service (Benton County Forestry & Natural Resources and 4-H). The event encourages youth and families, to seek out healthy, active outdoor lives and embrace our parks, forests, refuges and other public lands and waters. The goal is to “connect youth and first-time visitors to the great outdoors and support the ideals of sustainability, fitness and nutrition”.
Ecology Field Cards of the Willamette Valley – a five set series of outdoor educational materials, (Douglas-fir Forest, Oak Woodland, Upland Prairie, Riparian Bottomland, Wetland and Wet Prairies) . These laminated, graphically rich, ecology field cards and accompanying 40 page, educator’s guide describe 50 of the most common organisms (plants, fungi, birds, mammals, reptiles and amphibians) found in a particular habitat in the local ecosystem.
Educator Kits and Lending Library - Over a dozen natural resource educator kits and related curriculum (K-12) focused on local ecology are available for check out at the OSU Extension Service, Benton County. These kits are used frequently by public and home school teachers, community educators, 4-H and Scout club leaders.