As a Celebrate Birds/Celebra las Aves intern, we have a lot of duties and responsibilities to complete as part of our internship. A main component of our internship is to engage the Latino community in educational and interpretive programming and encourage environmental stewardship. There’s an emphasis on connecting people to the outdoors and expand outreach in Latino communities. Recently, I was provided with the opportunity to check that off my list. Last weekend, 7 bilingual hispanic families came to the Cape Perpetua Visitor Center thanks to an intern from the Northwest Youth Corps organization. The plan was for me and Christine to take them down to the tidepools and conduct a mini bioblitz. Afterwards, we would go on a trail and visit some main attractions found at Cape Perpetua (Thor’s well and the Spouting Horn).They all knew Spanish and some knew English. However, to cater to all participating, Christine and I spoke primarily in Spanish. Talk about pressure. If I were to quantify my ability to communicate efficiently in Spanish, I would give myself a solid B. I can communicate pretty well, but always stumble here and there when trying to eloquently convey my thoughts in Spanish. I was a tad bit nervous to speak mostly in Spanish, so I quickly looked up some phrases in Spanish, such as old growth forest, temperate rainforest, and tidepools before meeting the families. Thankfully, my worries were for naught. The families were very kind and fun!
Christine and I met the families at the entrance and introduced ourselves. I stumbled a bit on my words at first, but was able to recover. The group was so kind that it was easy to figure out there was nothing to worry about. We gave a brief description of our internship, Environment for the Americas, Cape Perpetua, and asked the group if anyone has ever been to the tidepools and around 90% said no. They were about to experience something new. So exciting! After going over some safety tips, we headed down to the tidepools! The trail to the tidepools is short and relatively easy to hike. Along the way, we passed by a thicket of salal, and I couldn’t help but stop and talk about the plant. I informed everyone that it’s a common plant found in Oregon and passed some berries for everyone to eat. The look of wonder and excitement on their faces was awesome. Definitely and interpretive moment that connected them to the outdoors. Once we refueled on some berries, we resumed our journey to the tidepools. Upon arrival, a volunteer that worked on Cape Perpetua Marine Reserve and knew about the area gave us a lesson about the rocky shore and critters we might find in the tidepools. We passed some data sheets that contained the names of animals/plants found in the area and some field guides to help us identify them. As soon we got onto the rocky shore, some of the kids ran up to a tidepool and excitely exclaimed they found tadpoles. They marked them on their sheets and moved closer to the shore where more critters were spotted. There were tons of mussels and barnacles, some giant green anemones, purple sea anemones, crabs, and chiton. The parents and children were excited at the creatures they found and were enjoying the landscape. They crashing waves were putting on a powerful show that hypnotized you. Unfortunately for us, the weather was not very cooperative. It was a very windy day and made it somewhat challenging to traverse the rocky landscape. After 30 minutes, we called it and headed back to the Visitor Center.
We hiked back to a pleasant surprise. What was the surprise? The answer is the one, the only, SMOKEY BEAR! The excitement near the visitor center with Smokey was palpable. Every family took a photo with the loveable bear that advocates for the prevention of wildfires. I’m sure glad we called up Smokey and requested for his presence. Once everyone got their fill of photos, we said our goodbyes and thanked everyone for taking the time to visit the Cape Perpetua Visitor Center. They reciprocated with kind words and thank yous. What made the event even better is that we got invited to eat lunch with them. It was such a surprise. They packed a lot of delicious food and it was a great opportunity to further engage the family. No longer were we interpreters, but new friends to the group. We ate, talked, and laughed. Definitely a fun moment (I ate so much food!). Before everyone left, Christine and I made all the kids Jr Rangers! Once again, excitement filled the air and we ended the day with a bang. Everyone promised to care and respect our lands. Who knows, maybe some/all will the next group of future forest rangers!