Here at the Coos Watershed Association (CoosWA), our education team members - Alexa, Clea, and Ethan - are excited to kick off another summer of environmental education! Since 2012, 49 students have participated in CoosWA's Natural Resources Youth Leaders Program, and 8 more students will join the program this year. This summer students will be involved in projects ranging from invasive plant removal with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and sampling in the bay with the Oregon Dept. of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) to experiencing riparian restoration first-hand through CoosWA's very own projects. Over the course of 6 weeks students will additionally earn 3 internship credits through Southwestern Oregon Community College (SWOCC), giving them a leg up if they choose to pursue higher education later in life.

When asked about her favorite part of the program, CoosWA Education Program Leader Alexa Carleton said, "It's so inspiring to me that given the choice between a summer of freedom or some part-time job that students would choose to commit to a program like this, one that requires some early mornings, field work in hot conditions, and basically more learning after an entire year of structured education. And then on top of that, they are interested in science! The people - that's my favorite thing about this program for sure." When asked how the program could be improved, one student from 2016 even said, "It should last longer than 6 weeks!" Our educators couldn't agree more with this year's AmeriCorps member, Clea, saying, "This type of education, in small groups with diverse, interactive projects can really be a game changer for everyone involved. It's invigorating as an educator to see people become so engaged and a huge benefit as a student to have a learning environment that's not centered around a textbook."

This program is only possible as a result of strong partnerships with local agencies and organizations such as the BLM, ODFW, SWOCC, and the Oregon Institute of Marine Biology (OIMB). For more information about education programs at CoosWA, check out our Education page! To help support hands-on environmental education, visit our Donate page to learn more about how to help.