Chicas at the Refuge

The heat couldn’t reach us as we sat under the shady cottonwood trees.  Next to the vernal ponds, we were hosting our third activity for the Chicas field trip. Here, the chicas learned about the mammals of Oregon as well as careers in the environmental sciences.  While these chicas were at this station, two other groups were either taking a guided walk through the refuge or learning about bird adaptations. Brenda and I have been planning for this trip for a very long time!

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We first learned about the Chicas a month into our internship. The refuge was invited to partake in a Volunteer and Opportunities fair where the high school Chicas could learn about various opportunities in the WIllamete Valley. Brenda and I stood at our table and spoke to the girls about our internships, the place we worked at, and of course about birding. When the fair was over, I reached out to the woman who invited us to the event. We were smitten and we wanted to continue working with the chicas! We reached out to the woman in charge and told her about our interests in serving the Adelante Mujeres and Adelante Chicas programs. Unfortunately, the Chicas were booked until the summer, but we were more than welcome to work something out with them for their summer camps.

June rolled around, and I didn’t forget about the Chicas. I emailed Andrea Chunga, the woman in charge of the Chicas summer camp. One email led to another and all of a sudden we had worked out a field trip where 60 chicas would learn about wildlife and environmental careers at the refuge. It took about 2 months of planning and organizing. And guess what? It all paid off. The chicas learned about bird adaptations by looking at various nests, eggs, and feathers. The learned about the different mammals residing at the refuge by looking and touching their pelts and skulls. They of course took a short walk through the refuge where there guides told them a little bit about the history of this wonderful place as well as looking for evidence of wildlife.

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Liliana Calderon
lcalde4@illinois.edu
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