OWI believes that education is at the heart of conservation. We have initiated several projects whose sole aim is to share the excitement of nature and the importance of conservation and ways that we can all contribute. We work collaboratively with Oregon State University and their extension programs, and with community participants such as Oregon’s Watershed Councils, to find ways to involve the public in conservation.
Some of our recent outreach events include:
Field Trips with Elementary Students
Elijah Bristow State Park is jewel of an outdoor educational experience. We shared the student’s enthusiasm for the natural history of native turtles during our participation in an outdoor program through local schools and the Middle Fork Willamette Watershed Council. Students got a chance to learn how to track native turtles during our study of hatchlings. The weather cooperated and kids enjoyed watching basking western pond turtles up close through a spotting scope.
Jane Goodall Environmental Middle School
Dave Vesely mentored a team of JGEMS student researchers that evaluated the quality of turtle habitat and created a habitat map for the park. Students learned methods of wildlife observation and how to use equipment for making habitat measurements.
OWI staffed a booth at the Corvallis High School’s 2012 Earth Day Fair. Students stopped to ask questions, try to track a radio-tagged stuffed toy turtle, inspect equipment and a collection of insects used in identifying burrowing owl prey items, and pat Rogue, one of Dave Vesely’s Conservation Detector Dogs. We hope to add a tracking demonstration by one of the dogs in the future.
Portland’s Native Turtles: Discovery Lecture for the OWHF
OWI staff ecologist Dan Rosenberg enjoyed telling the story of Portland’s native turtles to a lively audience. No surprise that the story of western pond turtle hatchlings made the news…
Oregon State University Outside the Box Program
OWI ecologist Dave Vesely taught a course titled Canine Field Studies at this summer program for middle school students. The kids assisted in the training of two dogs that will be used to find nests of western pond turtles. The course also covered the ecology & conservation of native turtles. Field trips to a local wetland provided opportunities for observing turtles and their habitats. The primary goal of the course was to introduce students to the discipline of conservation biology. An important secondary objective was to provide students with a basic understanding of training and living with companion dogs
Internships and Volunteer Opportunities
OWI works with undergraduate and graduate students and the general public through internships, participation on graduate school committees, and citizen science. Recent internships included field work on turtle conservation plans and the gray-tailed vole project, volunteers provided important help on the turtle hatchling project, and Dan and Jen continued to mentor graduate students through the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife at Oregon State University.