Being the second EFTA intern in the Hebo Ranger District has been an extremely rewarding experience because I get to be there for incredible events like this one–the first campfire program to happen at Sand Lake Recreation Area! Sand Lake is known for its dunes which make it an OHV hotspot so interpretive events have not been held there in the past. It has been the Interpretive Specialist, Karen Robert’s dream to get this up and running so I was honored to get to help out. After putting up a sign near the entrance of Sand Beach campground, we set out to talk to people and let them know the event was happening and got many positive, excited responses.
For this campfire program, I taught the visitors about the western snowy plover since Fisherman Day Use Area is being monitored for plover nests every season in case any have decided to stay there. Although none have yet, just across the way there are some nests at Sitka Sedge State Park the visitors can see. The visitors also learned about fire safety since we had a campfire, how they can be a big help to threatened species of birds by leaving no trace behind, and ways to help with the plastic pollution problem.
It is important to have interpretive events like these so people have the opportunity to learn about the areas they are in and how they can help preserve them. I am very excited to continue these programs throughout the rest of the summer and am happy to hear they will continue in the following years, potentially with its own designated interpretive area!
I was also able to attend Twilight Tuesday at the Oregon Zoo this week with another EFTA intern, Yselia. This event occurs once a month during the summer months and allows families to visit the zoo at a discounted price after 4:00pm. During these events there is live music, different organizations tabling and giving out information, and a lot of different food options from the area that people can buy! We got to reach so many people during this event and it was really nice to see the diversity of the zoo visitors.
Our table was focused on the western snowy plover for this event so we taught the public about how they can make choices that will help protect birds. We also had a little display box where the visitors could pretend to make their own snowy plover nests and even decorate them with shells. Having this was very helpful when explaining to kids how the nesting strategy of the plovers was not ideal when it came to predators and exposed eggs. Another message we were sharing was to leave no trace behind since it would help stop the corvid populations from continuing to increase.
We were representing the Siuslaw National Forest at this event, but we got to meet the representatives of the Pacific Northwest Region of the Forest Service! It was really nice to meet people from different areas and hear about their own projects and events. Many of the visitors were 4th graders so they qualified for the Every Kid in a Park Pass, which the Northwest Region Rangers were handing out! With this pass, 4th graders in the US qualified for free entrance to Fish and Wildlife Service and National Park Service sites as well as Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation, and US Army Corps of Engineers sites. I think this pass is really important because it gives kids the opportunity to get outdoors and explore different natural areas with 3 of their family members for free!