Students learn at Nichols Natural Area

‘Night Heron Game,’ living laboratory explorations

SIXTH graders from Adam Smith’s Hood River Middle School science class took a trip to Nichols Natural area to explore the ecosystem and learn about water quality. Ubaldo Hernandez (above), a community organizer with Columbia Riverkeeper, along with colleague Lorri Epstein (below), oversaw the fieldtrip.

Photo by RJ Chavez
SIXTH graders from Adam Smith’s Hood River Middle School science class took a trip to Nichols Natural area to explore the ecosystem and learn about water quality. Ubaldo Hernandez (above), a community organizer with Columbia Riverkeeper, along with colleague Lorri Epstein (below), oversaw the fieldtrip.



On June 6-7, Columbia Riverkeeper hosted Adam Smith’s Hood River Middle School sixth grade science class at the Nichols Natural area.

These students were just some of the 600 students, ranging from elementary to community college, who have visited the site with Riverkeeper this spring.

Riverkeeper hosts happy hour

Riverkeeper is hosting happy hour at the Nichols Natural Area on June 14 and 28 to restore the former industrial site into a riparian habitat. Come by after work and help with a few projects such as weeding, mulching and setting irrigation; and the first round is on Riverkeeper.

The students explored the living laboratory, learning to test water quality, and thinking like a bird to make decisions about where to hide their “nests” in our Night Heron Game.

“The value of this science exploration lasts far beyond the day in the field. The teachers are thrilled that our program closely mirrors many of concepts they are covering in the classroom,” said Lorri Epstein, water quality director with Columbia Riverkeeper. “The students are excited about science. And the kids can watch with pride as the Nichols Natural Area grows, knowing that they took part in the restoration.”

The Nichols Natural Area is a living laboratory in the middle of the bustling Hood River waterfront.

photo

Students test the pH levels in the Columbia River with Lorri Epstein, water quality director, Columbia Riverkeeper.

At Nichols, learning is not confined by classroom walls. Young students learn to plant trees and inventory bugs. They may solve the mystery of why the Black-crowned Night Herons nest in the Nichols Basin.

High school students help plan restoration and sample water quality. And students learn how imagination and the power of community can transform our river.

Columbia Riverkeeper holds a conservation easement to restore nearly three acres of a former industrial site on the Columbia River in Hood River. Every person who visits the waterfront will see this high-profile site, and the restoration project is entirely community-driven. The students and community members who help design, implement, and manage the natural area will gain pride and ownership by making a brownfield turn green.

Columbia Riverkeeper’s goals for the Nichols Natural Area are:

Education — Develop a living laboratory to engage students and use Nichols as a tool for environmental education.

Restoration — Volunteer and community-led effort to restore native plants and riparian habitat.

Inclusion — Engage diverse communities through targeted outreach, education, and bi-lingual programs.

For more information about Columbia Riverkeeper visit, www.columbiariverkeeper.org/our-work-engaging-communities-nichols-natural-area.

Liz Terhaar is the communications director for Columbia Riverkeeper



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