Watershed Education in Tryon Creek

Adra standing net to educational watershed tri-fold display

“In the end, we will conserve only what we love, we will love only what we understand, and we will understand only what we are taught.” – Baba Dioum

While TCWC mostly focuses on direct restoration in our watershed, part of our organizations’ efforts entail outreach and education. As Baba Dioum points out, conservation stems from knowledge so teaching and informing the public plays an integral role in inspiring environmental stewardship for our watersheds. In March, TCWC focused on extending its education and outreach to a variety of groups.

On March 10, TCWC hosted a table at the Children’s Clean Water Festival at the University of Portland. This annual event hosts 1400 students from the greater Portland area each year to attend water-focused classroom presentations, exhibits, and stage shows. Our table featured a culvert fish toss game, a fun and interactive display to demonstrate how culverts and pipes in urban streams can block fish passages.

Students got three tries to toss a stuffed salmon through a hanging culvert – some were able to make it through but many got stuck or missed the culvert all together. After their turn, students were shown before and after photos from the Stone Bridge/Nettle Creek Bridge to get them thinking about why culverts should be replaced. Overall, the table was a great conversation starter and very popular with the students!

Old Bridge

In addition the Children’s Clean Water Festival, TCWC coordinated a spring break trip in late March for a group of 20 refugee teenagers from the School Assistance for Refugee Newcomers (SAFRN). The students were from a wide variety of countries, including the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Nepal, and Somalia to name a few.

TCWC took the students on a guided hike to Tryon Creek where they learned about plant identification, animal adaptations, and watershed issues. For many of them, the hike was their first time in a forest. They enjoyed seeing the tall Douglas fir and cedar.

The group then volunteered in the TCWC native plant nursery to help pot bare root plants that will be used for restoration in the fall. The students enjoyed learning how to pot plants and seeing all the slugs and worms in the soil. Overall, the trip was a great experience for the SAFRN group to learn about the local ecosystem and for TCWC to learn about the students’ experiences and cultures. A highlight was the group learning how to say “tree” in each student’s native language!

In other news, our Volunteer Coordinator Adra Lobdell recently created a watershed activity booklet as a project for her AmeriCorps program at the Confluence Environmental Center. The booklet provides fun and educational activities to enhance basic understanding of watershed science. Although aimed for elementary aged-students, it can be used by all ages and the SAFRN students completed the booklets before coming to Tryon Creek for their field trip. You can check out a .pdf version of the booklet here: CAP 1