Spotting Salmon with Seventh Graders

By Ashley Adelman

Traveling up Highway 126 in late September, many thoughts went through my head as I gazed upon the McKenzie River. Will there be salmon this year? Has this summer’s drought impacted the population? I’m so excited to get outside and chat with seventh graders about salmon and their habitat! As we arrived at the Carmen-Smith Spawning Channel, I was beyond excited to explore the landscape and perhaps share some knowledge about the life cycle of these spectacular anadromous fish. Just a few weeks into my RARE AmeriCorps position and I was already out in the field, gaining insight on education programs offered by McKenzie Watershed Council.

McKenzie Salmon Habitat
McKenzie Salmon Habita

Throughout the day, students rotated around four stations focusing on water quality, ecology, macroinvertebrates, and fish biology. Volunteer educators shared facts and insights on the topics as the students engaged in hands-on activities such as measuring turbidity and pH, identifying macroinvertebrates, and plant identification. The students were so engaged and excited to be learning outdoors!

We spotted over 50 Chinook salmon in the channel during the field trip! Quite a feat considering these salmon made a 300 mile journey from the Pacific Ocean to the channel as they reached the end of their life cycle. Right about now, the last of these new eggs are hatching and the cycle is beginning again. This threatened species continues to survive despite human impacts from dams and habitat alterations.

As I look back on the last four months of service, this field trip comes to mind as it was a truly phenomenal start to my year of service. Not only did I have the opportunity to explore the beautiful McKenzie River, I met many of the seventh grade students in the McKenzie School District. The students remember me from Salmon Watch and they greet me in the halls with a smile. These thoughtful hellos continue to inspire my projects.

When I reach out to community partners to develop a strategic plan for expanding programs such as Salmon Watch, I think of these students and the positive impact these outdoor experiences have in their education.

Ashley Adelman
Ashley Adelman

Ashley received her bachelor of science in Planning, Public Policy and Management and in Environmental Studies with a minor in Geography from the University of Oregon. As a student, Ashley worked as a student advisor for the Environmental Studies program, assisting current and prospective students with planning their degrees and helping the program identify new courses suitable for major curriculum. Ashley also interned with Schoolhouse Garden, where she promoted the program, led and co-led service projects, and wrote grants to secure $15,000 of funds. During her year with RARE AmeriCorps – Resource Assistance for Rural Environments, Ashley hopes to utilize the knowledge she has gained throughout her education and to enhance community connections to the outdoors, especially for children. Following her year with RARE, Ashley plans to obtain her permaculture design certificate while improving her Spanish language skills, and she would eventually like to own and operate a sustainability education center for long- and short-term guests.

Food for the Community

By Kevin Gilbride

It takes a lot for me to be excited. I tend to be a calm, collected person. When I graduated from high school in 2007, I moved to Eugene to attend University without excitement, knowing that I was doing what was expected of me. Barring a few adventures abroad, I have lived here ever since, doing what has been expected of me: graduating from university and getting a full time job. But now I am doing something unexpected, something maybe even exciting.

Now I am a master’s candidate of community and regional planning. I am currently working with the Community Planning Workshop at the University of Oregon. I moved to Eugene as a young man with no concept of a local food movement—I ate what I wanted when I wanted regardless of the season or the impact of my food habits. Local, sustainable food has since become a focus of my life.

Doing what isn’t expected of me by continuing my education has provided me with the opportunity to further my understanding of, and perhaps my obsession with, local food. For the next five months (has it been a month already?), under the umbrella of the Community Service Center and the University of Oregon, I have the opportunity to work with the City of Eugene, Lane County, Eugene Water and Electric Board and a variety of other local partners to assess the financial viability of a year-round public market in downtown Eugene. The idea for a public market originated in 2009 and germinated in a previous CPW project—market feasibility analysis which led into the current feasibility assessment project.

Such a market will bring fresh, local food to the community every day, sold directly by the farmers to the consumers, providing a vital connection between people and the food they eat.

I sit now, reflecting on the opportunities that the next five months of working for the CPW will provide me in my planning education, and while the professional skills that I will develop are a huge bonus, the biggest bonus, and thus a reason for excitement for this project, is the idea that I have an opportunity to directly impact the health of the community that I live in, and that I have grown to love. For this, I am excited.

Kevin Gilbride
Kevin Gilbride

California born, Oregon raised, Kevin has been living in Eugene for nine years. Kevin joined the Master’s of Community and Regional Planning program at the University of Oregon to pursue his goal to promote and construct multi-modal infrastructure. Kevin is an avid soccer player, bike commuter, and hiker, and loves quality local food.