As Muddy Creek Charter School students wandered the Greenbelt Land Trust’s Evergreen property on Tuesday, they spotted plants that they’d planted themselves over the years.
Some of the plants, such as the rare Nelson’s checker-mallow and more common willow, they started in their own greenhouse before transplanting them onto a plot assigned to the school for restoration since 2012.
But Tuesday, students from the school visited the property for the last time. Students from Muddy Creek, the Corvallis Waldorf School and Kings Valley Charter School, have been visiting the Evergreen property for outdoor education and restoration projects for the past three years as part of an education program offered in collaboration with the Institute for Applied Ecology, the Marys River Watershed Council and Greenbelt Land Trust.
Each school was assigned a plot, and students visited it three times a year to remove invasive species, plant native plants, and participate in outdoor learning activities.
The program was funded by a three-year grant, and it is expiring.
“The kids are seeing the full cycle of life, from growing to planting,” said Stacy Moore, IAE’s education program director.
Moore said that the goal of the “service learning” program is for students to learn to give back to the community and the environment.
“I hope they take that lesson with them and carry it with them to middle school, high school and beyond,” she said.
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Moore said that while the Evergreen program is ending, IAE is currently seeking a grant to fund an outdoor education program at Bald Hill for all third-graders in the Corvallis School District. The program, Moore said, would have students plant milkweed to benefit monarch butterflies.
Linus O’Brien, a 9-year-old fourth-grader at Muddy Creek, said he’d been out to Evergreen at least five times in two school years.
“It gives me good insight into the life of some plants and animals and their adaptations,” he said.
He said one of his favorite activities was collecting invertebrate samples in Evergreen Creek, but he also liked checking the progress of things he’d planted.
“I’m gonna miss climbing around and planting native plants to restore nature,” he said.
Josie Neely, an 11-year-old fifth-grader at Muddy Creek, said that Tuesday marked her third visit to the Evergreen property, a 221-acre site south of Philomath along Evergreen Creek.
“It’s cool because you get to see something you planted is helping the environment, and you’re helping provide shelter to animals.”
The last of the outdoor programs at Evergreen will be held today, with students from the Corvallis Waldorf School.