“Soil Your Undies” in the Sandy River Watershed!

The Clackamas Soil and Water Conservation District “Soil Your Undies” campaign (otherwise known as The Cotton Brief Challenge) is off to an exciting start in 2020. Looking for ways to support their teacher partners, limit screen time, and help get students outside, the Sandy River Watershed Council suggested a partnership challenge and the District was happy to help!

Partnering with Watershed Councils Reflects District Values

The Sandy River Watershed is on of 10 watershed in Clackamas County. (Photo: Sam Beebe)

The Sandy River Watershed is one of 10 watershed in Clackamas County. (Photo: Sam Beebe)

The District has a long history of working with the TEN watershed councils located wholly or partially within Clackamas County. Councils can be very helpful in realizing conservation goals in a local watershed.

Depending on the capacity of the watershed council, there are a number of actions they make take to improve watershed health. They may:

  • Bring together varied interests to form a common vision for the ecological and economic sustainability and livability of their watershed
  • Plan, develop, and implement projects to maintain and restore streamside areas
  • Monitor and improve local water quality
  • Identify and remove invasive weeds
  • Establish and preserve fish and wildlife habitat
  • Mobilize their powerful volunteer base to accomplish on-the-ground projects
  • Educate and inform local citizens about watershed processes and functions

Covid-19 and Conservation Education Opportunities

Clackamas SWCD staff Lisa Kilders gets ready to "plant" some underwear!

Clackamas SWCD staff Lisa Kilders gets ready to “plant” some underwear!

The current Covid-19 pandemic has created many challenges for conservation partners and educators alike. Katherine Cory, Development Director for the Sandy River Watershed Council, recognized that other parents, as well as the teachers who are now tasked with educating their students in an online forum, could use some additional resources that supported educational growth AND conservation. She was very familiar with the District’s past challenges and thought the combination of “tidy whities” and soil science would be an attractive and stimulating adventure for students who were getting a lot of screen time, but maybe not enough time out of doors.

Cory reached out to the District to see how it could support her. In response, the District designed posters, provided graphics, and gave her access to soil health information developed by Natural Resources Conservation Service. In turn, Cory coordinated with five teachers and a church group to participate in her “Soil Your Undies” campaign.

Not wanting to limit this entertaining and instructional activity to just this small group, Cory and colleague Katelyn Hale, Community Engagement Specialist for the Sandy River Watershed Council, undertook a series of videos to share on their Council website. Each video will feature underwear being planted at a different project site such as the Sandy RiverDelta and the Sandy-Salmon Floodplain Reconnection. These videos are available to anyone who visits their site and will also be made available via social media.

This soil health exploration will examine different soil types, soil structures, and environmental influences, and will enable the Council to gather information for some long term studies that they hope will demonstrate how restoration has a positive effect on soil health.

Join the “Soil Your Undies” Challenge

Join the Soil Your Undies Challenge.

Join the Soil Your Undies Challenge.

You don’t have to live in the Sandy River Watershed to follow along! The District will be widely broadcasting this activity again this summer, along with some special guests, but doing the challenge twice gives you twice the information and lots to discuss with your family if you’re interested in improving soil health at your own location.

More information on how to complete the challenge can be found by reading the following posts:

Thinking about joining the challenge? Share your process with us on social media! Tag us @sandywatershed or @ClackSWCD and use hashtags #ClackBriefs, #SandyBriefs, & #SoilYourUndies.

Clackamas SWCD