This posting of Outreach Insight is the monthly report of the Clackamas Soil and Water Conservation District’s Outreach and Education Program.
2018 Clackamas County Celebrating Water Festival
March 20th was a noisy and lively day at the Gregory Forum Building on the Clackamas Community College campus. This was the day almost 675 fourth and fifth-grade students, teachers, and chaperones participated in the 2018 Clackamas Celebrating Water Festival.
The Clackamas Water Education Team has hosted this event for thirteen years and it is truly a creation of collaboration! There were booths from members of the Water Education Team and partnering organizations. This includes the Clackamas Soil and Water Conservation District, Water Environment Services, North Clackamas Urban Watersheds Council, Clackamas River Water Providers, Clackamas River Basin Council, National Wildlife Federation/Oregon NW Steelheaders, US Fish and Wildlife Service Eagle Creek Hatchery, Clackamas County Department of Sustainability, Oak Lodge Water Services, OSU Extension, the Environmental Learning Center, Trout Unlimited, and Clackamas County Vector Control.
Also, a number of Clackamas County high schools and their students provided extra helping hands and wonderful activities. Volunteers came from Rex Putnam, Clackamas, Milwaukie, and Oregon City/West Linn High Schools.
At the District booth, the focus was on soil and the microorganisms that live in healthy soil. The new display boards featured Mighty Mini Microbe and her friends as they help improve water infiltration rates and reduce runoff that can carry soil into streams and ditches. This was one of the most popular booths to visit. Each student went home with a small baggie of healthy soil that might be home to over a billion soil microorganisms. Pretty Cool!
In the end, there were lots of happy kids and plenty of exhausted adults. Success!
Celebrating the Success of the Pudding River Watershed Council
It was a jubilant evening at Seven Brides Brewing in Silverton on March 15th as the Pudding River Watershed Council held their annual meeting. Supporting watershed residents, partners, and board members were treated to appetizers, a sampling of the resident libations, and presentations from Andy Bryant, a hydrologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration National Weather Service, and Todd Jarvis, Director of the Institute of Water and Watersheds at Oregon State University.
There was plenty of networking and the presentations generated many questions from the engaged audience! Congratulations Pudding River Watershed Council on a successful year and a lovely celebration.
Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?
This month a couple of opportunities to interact with local fifth-grade students arose and this thought passed through our minds. I am happy to report that yes, we are smarter than fifth graders! These were incredibly bright students and asked many good, thoughtful questions.
Oregon Trail Academy
On March 6, Lisa traveled to the Oregon Trail Academy near Sandy to talk about agricultural rules for protecting water quality with a fifth-grade class. The discussion included erosion and conservation practices that farmers and agricultural landowners can implement to prevent impacts to surface water quality. The students used a felt board to apply conservation practices. An Enviroscape watershed model was also used to simulate how rainwater runoff carries soil to streams and ditches. Of course, the cocoa powder that was used to represent soil on the watershed model also generated a lot of delightful comments!
Forest Hills Elementary School
On March 7, Cathy presented a soil health lesson to a fifth-grade class at Forest Hills Elementary School in Lake Oswego. The discussion with the students began with a review of what plants need to grow and a discussion to answer the questions, “what exactly is soil?” Using homemade soil probes, the students collected soil samples which were subsequently sent to a lab for analysis. The lesson concluded with a tasting of grapes and hazelnuts, a discussion on the differing soil requirements for these crops, and an introduction to the Web Soil Survey.
In preparation for the expansion of the Backyard Habitat Certification Program into more urban areas in Clackamas County, a new promotional card was developed to highlight the partners supporting this great drive forward.
Additional funding for this expansion has been contributed by the Clackamas Soil and Water Conservation District, the City of Lake Oswego, Oak Lodge Water Services, and Water Environment Services. This is a great partnership that has birds and bees all over the county applauding.
Tree School 2018 is a Wrap!
As a platinum sponsor of OSU Extension Tree School, the District was very involved in this year’s event. Sarah Hamilton and Scott Eden were instructors, while Cathy McQueeney provided outreach information and support at our busy booth.
The District display included plants from our Invasive Weed Library. Visitors to our booth tested their abilities to identify common invasive weeds that may be found in their production forest. Conversations were had with many local landowners, including Jim Bernard, a Clackamas County Commissioner, who is interested in learning more conservation techniques to employ on his own property. Thanks to everyone who stopped to talk!
Sharing With Our Partners
- Once every quarter the urban outreach staff from Watershed Councils and the Soil and Water Conservation Districts in the Portland area meet to share ideas, solve common problems, and update each other on events and projects. This quarter the meeting was hosted by Clackamas River Basin Council. Topics discussed included: social media metrics, connecting authentically with diverse communities, and utilizing a stakeholder analysis matrix to refine and better target outreach efforts.
- This month the District shared our soil health curriculum and workshop information with Spokane Conservation District in Spokane County Washington. This conservation district is in the process of putting together their own program that they are basing on our input!
- Articles the District has written on pollinator habitat have been shared with the City of Lake Oswego for their monthly Water Conservation newsletter.
Farmers Market Grants Awarded
After months of anticipation, the District Board of Directors awarded the 2018 Farmer Market Support Grants at the March 20, 2018, regular board meeting. A total of $40,127.00 was awarded to eight local farmers markets. The grant checks will be distributed the first week of April, just in time for Farmers Market season to ramp up for summer activities.
What do Coffee and Invasive Weeds Have in Common?
Burlap bags! These bags hold unroasted coffee beans that are delivered to local coffee roasters and then the empty bags are used by landowners for organic weed suppression. Over the past several years, Clair Klock has been working with Boyd’s Coffee to recycle their burlap bags.
Clair has been picking up the bags and delivering them to the Conservation Resource Center where landowners have come to load up the bags for use on restoration plantings and in vegetable gardens. Recently Farmer Brothers Coffee bought out Boyd’s Coffee and will be moving the operation to Texas.
We will be stocking up on as many totes of burlap bags as Clair is able to obtain over the next few months. Priority for bags will be given to conservation/restoration projects planned by the District staff.
Pesticide Round-Up Coming to Molalla
It pays to ask the right questions at the right time. This month we asked the coordinators of the state Pesticide Stewardship Program if there were funds available for an agricultural pesticide collection event in Clackamas County. As luck would have it, there were leftover funds from collection events held across the state. The catch was that the funds have to be spent before June 30. Because we have the experience to make an event happen quickly, we were fortunate enough to secure those funds!
Molalla will be the location of the event on June 1, 2018. We chose this location because it is surrounded by agricultural land and is easily accessible for producers in both Clackamas and Marion Counties. Marion Soil and Water Conservation District will help promote this event to commercial, institutional, and agricultural applicators/growers in the North Willamette Valley. We thank the City of Molalla for graciously allowing us to hold the event on a city-owned site.
Here are a few events that we are in the midst of planning:
- GardenPalooza – Plans are coming together for our display at the 2018 GardenPalooza held at Fir Point Farms. Our display will feature soil health in your home garden. The event will take place on April 7, 2018.
- Enhancement Day celebrating Earth Day and Arbor Day – Even though National Arbor day is celebrated on the last Friday in April, states often celebrate at different times. Oregon celebrates this event on the first week in April. On April 7, 2018, beginning at 9:00 a.m., the City of Oregon City will be hosting their Enhancement Day event and the District will be there at the VFW Hall with a display on native plants and Oregon oak habitat conservation. Beautification activities will be focused on the McLoughlin Promenade (Bluff) located between the Oregon City Elevator and the VFW Hall. This area will be enhanced by planting trees, bulbs, flowers, and spreading bark.
- A Workshop for Horse Owners – Registration is open for this workshop covering pasture management, track paddocks, and Firewise property management being held on May 7, 2018. The registration is being managed by Eventbrite. Please tell anyone who wishes to participate that seating is limited, so do not wait to register!
- Spring Septic System Workshop – This year’s septic system workshop will be held on May 17, 2018, at the Lewis and Clark Montessori School at 15600 SE 232nd Dr., Damascus. The workshop runs from 6 to 8 p.m. This is a free event, but seating is limited so registration is required. Contact Tami at the District office via e-mail or phone 503-210-6000.
Where Else Might You See Us?
We do our best to find outlets for conservation information we think will be helpful. The information may be found in a variety of formats in any number of locations. You never know where we will show up! This month you will find something from the District the following publications:
Beavercreek Bulletin: Look for our info-ad on controlling tansy and our advertisement for our District Scholarship!
New Web Posts this Month:
- RFP for Construction Manager/General Contractor
- Equipment Rental Program Update for 2018
- District Seeks to Acquire Important Habitat for Fish and Elk
- March Invasive Weed of the Month: Canada Thistle
- The Prickly Thistle: A March 2018 WeedWise update
- Septic System Pilot Loan Program Takes Off!
- Native Pollinators in Local Forestlands