Watershed Rangers Project
The goal of the Watershed Education Project is to foster a sense of stewardship toward the Middle Fork Watershed among elementary school students. To support this goal, it is our mission to provide resources for schools and teachers to help their students better understand local ecosystems and give them the tools to visit and help restore natural sites in the Middle Fork Willamette Watershed.
Participating teachers work closely with the WEP Coordinator to plan a program for the year. The direction each class program takes is designed to fit each teacher’s needs and the requirements of the district. All activities are aligned with Oregon state standards in science and many other subjects and offered to participating schools at no charge.
What Watershed Rangers provides
- Curriculum and training for teachers. The Watershed Rangers curriculum is a compilation of lesson plans and activities specifically adapted to the species, environments, and issues present in the Middle Fork Willamette watershed. The WEP resource library also contains many of the materials that accompany the lessons, and these kits can be checked out for teachers to use. Periodic training workshops help teachers become familiar with the resources and expand their use in the classroom. Click here to learn more about the curriculum.
- Classroom visits. The WEP Coordinator visits each classroom throughout the year to teach lessons that prepare students for upcoming field experiences. In this way, teachers can see lessons modeled and begin to adopt them in future years.
- Guest speakers. Local experts from partner agencies can offer students a unique insight into watershed issues, as well as exposure to possible careers in natural resources. The WEP Coordinator can make arrangements for guest speakers to visit participating classrooms.
- Field trips. Providing students experience in the outdoors is the keystone of the Watershed Rangers project. The WEP Coordinator works with teachers to plan field trips that fit their curriculum and grade level. Most trips involve multiple activities with guest instructors and take place at sites in the watershed that many people are familiar with, such as Elijah Bristow State Park, Clark Camp on Fall Creek, Buckhead Wildlife Area, and Dexter Dam. Each class goes on 2 to 3 field trips throughout the year, with at least one incorporating a service learning project.
- Service learning projects. Each class has the opportunity to turn learning into action by taking part in a hands-on service project. Local natural resource managers serve as activity guides and instructors to help students perform restoration projects like removing invasive species, planting trees and shrubs, maintaining trails and enhancing interpretive areas.
How can I take part in Watershed Rangers?
Teachers. Do you teach 3rd, 4th, 5th, or 6th grade at a public elementary school in the Middle Fork Willamette watershed? If so, we would love to work with you! And if you teach a different grade or work in a different area, we are still interested in hearing from you. Contact the WEP Coordinator to learn more.
Students. There are teachers participating in Watershed Rangers at Oakridge, Lundy, and Pleasant Hill elementary schools, so most young students in the watershed will participate in the project at some point. For older students, there are opportunities to help with Watershed Rangers projects and other volunteer projects of the MFWWC. College and university students have been great project partners in the past. If you are currently a student of environmental studies, natural resources, science, or education and are interested in meaningful volunteer work, click here to get involved!
Community Members. Volunteers are a great asset to our program! If you have a background in natural resources or the sciences and are interested in sharing your expertise with students, there may be a place for you in Watershed Rangers. For individuals of any background or profession, there are many ways to support watershed education. You can contribute by volunteering with the watershed council, spreading the word about our efforts or making a donation. Even a small cash donation can be the deciding factor for whether a class gets to take a field trip or not.