This week, we received another request for the EFTA interns’ to host a table at a special event! Brenda and I were given the opportunity to table at the Portland Zoo this week for their Twilight Tuesdays. Twilight Tuesdays are special evening events that the zoo holds once a month throughout the summer for families, who can attend at a discounted rate. The visiting families can attend 4-9pm and enjoy live music, food trucks, and activity stations, alongside viewing the animals. The activity stations are run by groups all across Oregon, and they each had their own special message to pass to visitors. We were to represent the Siuslaw National Forest because we shared a section with the Forest Service Northwest representatives. We were stationed next to the Nature Conservancy in Oregon and US Fish and Wildlife, but there were so many others, such as the Oregon Bee Project and Master Gardeners, just on the other side of the pathway.

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Our table for the day was a bit more specific than the one we set up at the aquarium. The focus of this table at the zoo was, “Plovers, Corvids, and You,” so that we could talk about a specific species, then relate it back to the guests we were talking with. While half of the table was focused on the Western Snowy Plover and its’ status as a threatened species, the other half focused on showing guests what role they can take in the effort to help protect birds. We wanted to show them what human impact is on the habitat of the Western Snowy Plover, and what they can do to make changes. As I have mentioned before, our disturbance of the open sand has caused a loss in beach habitat for the plovers to nest in. However today, we talked about how our trash impacts the environment and predators of the Western Snowy Plover. Similar to how the corvids affect the Marbled Murrelet populations, we do not want to leave trash around the beaches, in turn causing the ravens and crows to follow the scent of the trash towards the plover’s nesting areas. Talking about cleaning up after ourselves when we’re outdoors is something most of us can relate to or understand, so pairing it with the message of conservation for the plover was an easy talking point.

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We brought with us photos of the corvids and the plovers, as well as a “touch box” of sand so the visitors could practice making their own plover nest with our model eggs. Most of them are shocked at how small the eggs are and how well they blend in with the open sand. The sandbox, given to us by our wildlife biologist, allows them to visualize the habitat where the plover lives, and how easily the nest could be harmed by disturbance. The kids mostly enjoyed playing with the sand, but they also asked a lot of questions about the nests and how the plovers live. I think it is something they will remember after they leave the zoo because they can think of the plovers every time they go to the beach.

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I am grateful the zoo reached out to us asking if we wanted to host a table this year. The experience was one of my favorites of the season so far. Tabling here at the zoo gave me an opportunity to connect with communities I had not yet had contact with out on the coast. Brenda and I communicated with parents and children in Spanish, talking about how they can become involved and answering questions about not only the birds but the forest as a whole. Seeing all of the different faces and all of the families who had the opportunity to attend the zoo left me appreciative of the opportunity. The last Twilight Tuesday will be held on August 20th, and I already cannot wait to return.

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In honor of celebrating Latino Conservation Week, Brenda and I took a photo for their board, stating what we want to protect. Because we are focused on migratory bird conservation here at EFTA, we chose migratory birds. Our photo was posted along with a few others on the ‘Forest Service Northwest’ twitter so that our message of conservation could be shared along with others. I hope many of you were able to celebrate #LCW2019 this year, and if not, there’s always next year! You can join Latinos across the country in protecting our resources. Additionally, you can be involved in conservation efforts in your community any time of the year.

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