Nature education programs and volunteer events offer community members opportunities to connect with nature. These types of hands-on activities can provide people with deeper and more enriching experiences.
Voter investments pay for expanded nature education programming, including more school field trips, guided nature walks, plant identification classes, nature photography courses and other activities. Salmon Homecoming every October at Oxbow Regional Park allows visitors to witness the annual return from the ocean of salmon, fighting upstream to spawn and die in the rivers of their birth.
Volunteering provides individuals and groups with special connections to nature through participation in a wide variety of tasks.
Volunteers help restore parks and natural areas by removing invasive plants, cleaning up parks and historic cemeteries, gardening, gathering seeds from rare native plants, volunteering at Metro’s Native Plant Center, and planting native trees and shrubs. After receiving free training, volunteer naturalists help lead school field trips. Other volunteers waded into chilly ponds in the winter to count frog and salamander eggs, helping scientists survey their numbers as well as the overall health of wetlands in the region.
Trail Blazers, Widmer, SOLVE volunteers help Metro clean up Broughton Beach
With Mount Hood as a backdrop and planes roaring overhead from Portland International Airport, about 45 volunteers gathered at Broughton Beach in early June to pick up litter, clear sand from access ramps, and gather branches and materials for the elephants at the Oregon Zoo to eat.
Metro partnered with SOLVE Oregon, Widmer Brothers Brewing and the Portland Trail Blazers for an afternoon of "Service, Sports & Suds." Employees from each organization and their families volunteered to help clean up different areas of the beachfront.
The volunteers – including Blaze, the Blazers mascot – removed 30 pounds of trash, including over 300 cigarette butts that will be recycled, and cleared 3 cubic yards of invasive Himalayan blackberry, which will be fed to the elephants at the Oregon Zoo.
Metro is dedicated to keeping parks and nature facilities clean and beautiful, and involving the community in their maintenance is a great way to encourage people to care about the region’s natural spaces, said Lupine DeSnyder, a parks and nature volunteer coordinator for Metro.
"We really hope to serve as a place for people to come together either to volunteer or enjoy nature,” she said. “Volunteering is a way to connect with nature through your place of employment or just through volunteering with your family. Coming out to different sites allows you the chance to see them, while also doing good."
Additionally, a small team made up mostly of Widmer employees shoveled and swept about two feet of sand from an access ramp that's compliant with the Americans with Disability Act. Volunteers then hauled large rocks from a nearby rock pile to make a barrier, so that the sand wouldn’t blow back up onto the ramp. The work ensures that people using strollers and mobility devices will continue to enjoy safe access. Another team trimmed overgrown grass and brush from an adjacent walkway.
Following the beach clean-up effort, volunteers were invited to enjoy drinks and snacks provided by SOLVE and Widmer. The adults were treated to ice-cold Widmer beer on the hot afternoon. Additionally, volunteers entered a raffle for a chance to win tickets for the Trail Blazers, Timbers and Thorns, free beer for a year from Widmer, and an autographed practice jersey from Trail Blazer Jusuf Nurkic.
A few of the volunteers said they had never visited Broughton Beach before.
“It’s really beautiful. I’m really surprised I’ve never been here,” said Rikki Ford, who works for the Trail Blazers’ corporate communications. “As an organization, we really respect our environment and want to make sure that we're doing our part to help clean up and maintain the beautiful place we live.”