Forestry education is engaging, relevant and important for Oregon students. Knowing this,has provided programs since 1994 that help to educate students and the public about Oregon’s forests to achieve our mission of promoting forest stewardship through education.
In a typical year, we bring about 2,500 students to the woods. For many of these students, it is the first time they have walked a forest trail, breathed the fresh forest air and experienced a day away from electronics. Our field-based, which are supported by the Oregon Forest Resources Institute through , give students an opportunity to connect with the forest though direct experience. Students learn about and see firsthand the abundant resources that forests provide, from recreational opportunities to clean water to wildlife habitat to the wood products that they use every day in their homes and at school
The teachers we work with are excited about getting students outside and into nature, and they are enthusiastic about teaching about forestry. Forests Today & Forever is based in Eugene, and the 2,500 students who participate in our programs annually come from 18 local schools in 11 districts, most of which participate year after year with new classes of students.
From our perspective, what’s not to love about our programs? After all, there are many good reasons to include forestry education in schools. Here are a few that might encourage more teachers to take advantage of our program and the many otherin Oregon:
· Forestry education is place-based. Forestry is central to Oregon's history, culture and economy, and educating about forestry is a comprehensive approach to help students develop a sense of place and understanding about their local community.
· Forestry education is multidisciplinary, spanning several subject areas, including science, mathematics and history. It is easily integrated into these subjects to provide a learning experience that matches the complexities of real life.
· Forestry education achieves the goals of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education, helping students develop skills in these important subjects that can be applied in school and the real world.
· Forestry education is career education. It highlights a variety of career and job opportunities in forest-related fields that students might not otherwise learn about. Many of these jobs are in-demand, high-paying and accessible to students directly after high school graduation.
As we emerge from the pandemic, our Forests Today & Forever field programs are coming back into session, along with those offered by other forestry education organizations across Oregon. We are excited to welcome students back to the woods and to support teachers in meeting their teaching and learning objectives with our forestry education offerings.
Forests Today & Forever
May is officially Wildfire Awareness Month. But really, fire awareness and prevention is something we should be practicing every day, especially as we enter the dry summer months.
The catastrophic in Oregon are still a fresh reminder of how deadly and quick wildfires can be. The goal of Wildfire Awareness Month is to encourage all citizens to take steps to better prepare their home and communities for wildfires, and work toward becoming a fire-adapted community. Numerous fire prevention agencies and organizations are working together to increase awareness of human-caused wildfires by offering opportunities for people to participate in community fire prevention projects.
When it comes to preventing wildfires, there’s a lot at stake – lives, personal property, and the many values provided by Oregon’s forests and rangelands. In the , where residential areas abut forests and other wildlands, wildfires are often started by human activity such as debris burning or lawn mowing, and then spread to the forest. Once underway, a fire follows the fuel, whether it is trees or houses.
The good news is that simple prevention strategies can go a long way toward making your home, family and community safer. Spring is the perfect time to remove dead, flammable vegetation and limb up trees around the yard, making it less likely for a wildfire to spread to your home. Many Oregonians are also gearing up right now for the summer camping season, providing a great opportunity to refresh yourself on to prevent the next forest fire.
In that spirit, the Oregon Forest Resources Institute recently to the nonprofit that will allow them to ramp up their wildfire prevention outreach of encouraging the public to create defensible space around their homes and prevent careless, unwanted wildfires this summer.
About 75% of the wildfires that break out in Oregon each year are human-caused. The number one cause is debris burns, followed by equipment and campfires, according to the Oregon Department of Forestry. We all have a part to play and we can make a difference. The following are fire awareness and prevention actions you can take:
1. Prepare yourself and your family for a potential :
· watch the Oregon State University webinar
2. Be aware of your actions and the risks they pose and at :
· watch the
3. Be aware of your actions and the risks they pose while :
· watch the
· dive into with Oregon Department of Forestry, including knowing fire closures
Thank you to all the firefighters and support crews who are preparing for the upcoming season. (Take a look inside the career of one courageous wildland firefighter ). Please help firefighters by reducing the risks of fires through being fire aware and working with your local fire department to be educated about community preparedness and evacuation plans.
If you are a forest landowner, there are also numerous actions you can also take to ensure the health of your forest and mitigate the potential risks from wildfire. Those topics are explored on the landowner education website .
As Smokey Bear reminds us, “Only you can prevent wildfires.”
From the forest,
Senior Manager of Forestry Education
Wildfire in Oregon elicits powerful responses from all walks of life, whether it’s from concerned citizens, landowners, firefighters or others. In September 2020, Oregon faced a series of catastrophic wildfires that burned approximately 1 million acres. Federal, state and private lands were impacted. Causes are being investigated, and although I understand there are many considerations, the sustained winds and drought conditions meant that regardless of ownership or management, most everything within the pathway of these fires burned. My heart still hurts for all the loss, even though the fires were months ago. The loss of life, of homes and other structures, of timber, and of wildlife and wildlife habitat – these losses will be felt for generations. We’re all looking for ways we can help.
Conversations with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) staff have given me hope that most of the wildlife that live in Oregon’s forests survived these fires. Some were able to directly escape, while others sheltered in place by burrowing deep into the soil or finding unburned areas such as streams and lakes to hunker down. However, a million acres is a lot of burned area that’s not providing the same food sources for wildlife that it once did, for the time being.
There are many “after-the-fire” actions forest landowners can implement, and we recommend visiting fire-resource websites specifically designed to help landowners. Here are two great sites:
It’s important to note that specific actions for wildlife are not always included in suggestions for how to restore forests after wildfire. One simple action landowners can do is to spread a wildlife-friendly seed mix in burned areas. A seed mix will have several benefits. It can help combat invasive species, provide erosion control and offer forage opportunities for wildlife. It can be tough to decide between using a native or non-native mix; we recommend native. If you choose to go with a non-native variety, plant a mix that’s not invasive and will be outcompeted by native vegetation within a few years. Good places to spread seed mix include on fire lines and fire access roadside edges, within burned stands, along riparian areas and slopes leading to riparian areas, and on landings after salvage logging operations are complete. Seed can be spread by hand, from a drone or helicopter, or by hydroseeding. Partner opportunities may be available from or others., the
Spring is a great time to plant the seed mixes. The winter was tough for a lot of wildlife, but firsthand reports from the fire line indicate there’s a lot of new growth already coming up. Applying a seed mix is our way of being intentional about what forage will be available for wildlife.
For specific details on where to find seed mixes, what should be in the mix, and how to apply them, check out the Oregon Forest Resources Institute’s new “Seed mixes for wildlife” fact sheet.
For more information on helping wildlife after wildfire, please contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org the following websites:
Fran Cafferata Coe, CWB®
Contract Wildlife Biologist
Oregon Forest Resources Institute
And the truth is, we can’t wait for the sounds of squeals, shouts, singing and laughter to return to our tour site.
We miss the sound of students participating in Port Blakely’s Environmental Education program. During non-pandemic times, every spring and fall hundreds of kids clamber off their school buses and into the woods. Each class enjoys their own forest field day, a follow-up to our company’s in-class forestry curriculum. Every child gains an intimate, hands-on, positive experience in the woods, learning about wildlife habitat, sustainable forestry, carbon sequestration and clean water.
When it’s safe to resume, the program will reach a prodigious milestone: It will host its 100,000th visitor!
Port Blakely’s Environmental Education program started in Washington state 30 years ago, and has been running in Oregon since 2001. In 2009, the Oregon Forest Resources Institute (OFRI) started contributing to the program’s bus transportation costs to get students out into the forest. Since then, nearly 17,000 students, teachers and chaperones have received free busing to and from our forest tour site in Molalla, courtesy of OFRI.
Schoolchildren throughout Oregon benefit from free transportation to forest-related field trips such as ours through the OFRI bus transportation reimbursement program. Teachers tell us all the time how vital no-cost field trips are because most of our participating schools have no funding for field trips.
Even more shocking – many of the students who visit our forestland tell us, “I’ve never been in a forest before.” With nearly half of our state covered in trees, and the future of Oregon’s forests in their hands, it’s crucial to educate Oregon schoolchildren about the significant role forests play in our environment and the contributions they make in our daily lives.
So we are waiting (mostly) patiently for forest field trips to resume, and for students to exclaim in wonder or laugh in delight or simply sit in silence counting how many sounds of wildlife they can hear, once field trips bring them back into the woods we love.
Environmental Educator & Community Liaison