June Term Class Takes Students Into the Wild

Some lucky RPA students have been experiencing fun, hands-on activities the past couple of weeks and learning from subject matter experts as part of instructor Julie O’Neil’s June Term “Call of Nature” class.

“This class allowed students to fully immerse themselves in nature as they learned practical ways to be good stewards of the environment while experiencing the positive mental health impacts we receive when outside,” said instructor Julie O’NeilL. “Students’ reflections after our hikes spoke of increased peace after a really hard year, how a sense that everything is going to be OK settled on their spirits as we hiked, and that they need to work on getting their families outside and hiking more this summer.”  

Last week, they had Ranger Jerry Freilich in class to talk about his 30 years in the National Park Service. He spoke of his many research projects including studying the desert tortoise at Joshua Tree National Park, insects at Grand Teton National Park and his production of over 17 national park movies. Ranger Jerry encouraged students to consider future careers in the National Park Service, explaining the structure and many job opportunities.

The class recently spent a day at  Crater Lake National Park with Ranger John Duwe, snowshoeing on the rim, participating in a citizens science data collection activity observing the Hemlock tree, learning how to use map and compass, and simply just experiencing the wonderment of being at a national park.

Students also undertook a community volunteer project to learn about invasive species, first identifying them and then pulling them from the trail system at the RAPD Borden Park Wildlife Preserve. Students pulled 20 bags worth of invasive species and cleaned up the area under the supervision of Marilynne Keyser, past board president of Friends and Neighbors of Deschutes Canyon Area, and Robin Galloway, current president of the organization. Students also participated in cleanup of the Deschutes River, identified invasive species and planted native plants, and much more.

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