OSU Discover the Willamette Watershed Camp 2018

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"Environmental Leadership for Youth" is a new outreach opportunity sponsored by the Calapooia Watershed Council and other watershed councils in connection with the Oregon State University Extension Office and the 4-H Outreach Leadership Institute.

The program consists of a variety of labs, projects, field trips and summer camps, running March through August at a variety of locations. All are free to participants.

The program begins with an informational kickoff from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. March 1 at the main branch of the Albany Public Library, 2450 14th Ave. S.E.

It's targeted toward youths who may never have had the opportunity to interact much with nature, or who may never have considered a college experience or career based on environmental opportunities.

Even living in relatively rural Linn or Benton counties doesn't guarantee exposure to camping, hiking, skiing, fishing, or other experiences with mountains, rivers and fields.

Along those lines, some mid-valley students thinking about college may believe it's out of reach — or that the only opportunities for study are traditional paths such as law, medicine or education. Oregon in particular is rich in environmental possibilities, and many career paths can be found through forestry, fisheries, geology and oceanography.

"The idea is to open doors to kids who normally wouldn't see this coming. "They have no idea of the multitude of paths they can take. ... We want to open their eyes to that."  

Participating youths will have a chance to float the Willamette, take field trips to natural habitat areas, meet environmental professionals, be summer camp counselors, experience campus living at OSU and work on science projects with watershed councils.

It's open to students in eighth through 12th grade who live or go to school within the boundaries of the Calapooia, Marys River and Middle Fork Willamette watershed councils. That includes Albany, Halsey, Harrisburg, Corvallis, Philomath, Monroe, Eugene, Springfield, Pleasant Hill, Lowell and Oakridge.

The students need to be associated with the watershed council locations because of the costs for transportation.

The watershed councils are involved because they're looking for ways to reach out to the students who will shape the futures of those entities and keep them sustainable, said Bessie Joyce, executive director of the Calapooia Watershed Council. They will be the voters making decisions on conservation and other environmental issues.

As part of the introductory meeting, participants will learn more about opportunities throughout the rest of the program. Events take place in March, May, June, July and August. Participants are expected to stay through the whole program.

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