FOCUS (Forest, Organisms, Creeks yoU Study)
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.
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
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.
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
Benton County 4-H Wildlife Stewards Program
Real World Learning Outside the Classroom Door
The 4-H Wildlife Stewards Program engages youth in outdoor learning and connects them to the natural world. It increases environmental science literacy and stewardship through engagement in research using a sustainable outdoor habitat education sites on or near school grounds.
4-H Wildlife Steward Training:
Professional development opportunities for teachers and volunteers is hands-on, interactive, and provides curriculum and information on a variety of topics from native plants and animals, habitat design, working with youth, science teaching skills, and educational resources.
Trained 4-H Wildlife Stewards volunteers must complete an OSU application, references and a background check to work with classrooms.
4-H Wildlife Stewards Summit
The 4-H Wildlife Stewards Summit is a annual, one day youth conference held each spring to showcase student research projects.
Each year over 200 students in grades 1-5 work in small teams to research a local ecology topic and present both an oral and written project to a judge. Students then rotate through natural science experiential learning stations provided by our local natural resource partners.
The event is staffed by youth in grades 4 and 5 from the host school, who acted as emcees, greeters, ambassadors and provide tours of the schoolyard habitat to visiting students and community members. Over 50 adult volunteers support the event.
Youth that participate in this project report gaining skills in teamwork, research skills, science literacy & public speaking. Teachers report that this 4-H program helps students meet their writing/research/science standards.