Watershed 101 with ORCAS – Oregon Refugee Children’s Assistance Services

Watershed 101 with ORCAS – Oregon Refugee Children’s Assistance Services

Each Spring Break, Tryon Creek Watershed Council partners with the Oregon Refugee Children’s Assistance Services (ORCAS) program, to welcome new Oregonian youth to the Tryon Creek State Natural Area. For many of these students it’s their first time visiting a Pacific Northwest forest, and it’s a special part of each spring! 

This program supports multiple language groups, and several staff members were in attendance to provide interpretation where needed. This year we gathered in the Kraft Room in the morning along with staff with the Friends of Tryon Creek who share their land and labor acknowledgement and welcome the group. After students each had a field guide and ponchos -it was a wet day!- we took to the trails for a hike down to the creek and back. Along the way, we shared about Western red cedars, tasted licorice fern, and spent some time on the High Bridge discussing fish, riparian vegetation, and urban watershed connections. 

After returning to the Nature Center, TCWC provided lunch for students, who by this point in the day were out of their shells a bit more! 

After lunch, we planted native plants outside of the Nature Center along the path to the parking lot. There were bareroot sword ferns, and flats of Pacific waterleaf and oxalis. For the most part, students were in middle and high school – with one elementary-aged sibling and a senior in High School, there was fun mentoring at hand as captured in one of the photos!

We’re always excited to spend time with ORCAS program staff and students, and this year was no different. Daya, Yahya, and Julia have each been to Tryon several times and help students feel comfortable from the get-go. The Friends of Tryon Creek and Oregon State Parks are generous in providing space and time, especially amidst the Friends’ spring camp programming! Thank you to the Bureau of Environmental Services for funding this programmatic work, and Bosky Dell for the lovely plants as always!