Community Engagements in the Pacific Northwest

April has been a busy month as a Resource Assistant in the Pacific Northwest Regional Office of Communication and Community Engagement. As the winter comes to an end, in person community engagement events begin to pick up! I have learned a lot so far about the planning, coordination, and carrying out of these community partnerships and engagements. During the first half of my RA-ship with the Office of Communication and Community Engagement, I have been focusing on the community engagement side of the department. With this has come a lot of planning meetings for partnership agreements, coordination with regional community engagement staff on the forest level, conservation education work, volunteer work, and in person community engagements! This blog post will highlight the two in person community engagements I went to on behalf of the USFS this month.

Big Brothers Big Sisters and Urban Nature Partners PDX Rock Climbing Event

The first event I participated in was a rock climbing event at the Portland Rock Gym in collaboration with Urban Nature Partners Portland and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Portland. In preparation for the event, I made an informational handout with various rock climbing opportunities on National Forest land in the Portland Metropolitan area, climbing tips, and climbing safety information. The event took place indoors due to weather, but we are hoping to host more outdoor climbing events in the future. The event consisted of 10 youth, and their 10 mentors. Urban Nature Partners PDX also brought in high school aged climbers to belay the BBBS participants and help show them the ropes! This event was a huge success and I had a wonderful time seeing the participants get involved in the climbing event. I love seeing the ways in which the Forest Service supports even these smaller events. Even at the regional level, there is effort to engage underserved communities in outdoor activities. The community engagement team in the PNW try their best to show up for people, even if it is just for a small rock climbing event, and I feel happy to be a part of that!

Participants prepare to climb at the Portland Rock Gym on April 6, 2024.

Tamarack Elementary School Moon Tree Engagement Event

The second community engagement event of the month that I attended was a Moon Tree planting. Moon Trees are a collaboration between the Forest Service, NASA, and UPS. NASA takes tree seeds into space and to the moon, then UPS transports these trees all across the country to be planted. Tamarack Elementary School in Hillsboro, Oregon was one of the locations selected for a Moon Tree. We were asked to come to the day long event and engage with children aged 5 to 12 regarding the Moon Tree planting! The kids were SO excited to see a Moon Tree going up on their campus. The day started with the planting outside, all the kids gathered around to watch the principal of Tamarack, UPS staff, FS staff, and a couple students put the tree into the ground. Throughout the day, each class got a chance to come to the Forest Service and UPS booths to learn about the Moon Tree and organizations in general. Though exhausting, it was such a wonderful experience to see the students be so excited about trees! The event took place on Arbor Day, which made it even more exciting!

Our booth at the elementary school set up with a wheel of questions that the kids loved!

Overall, the community engagement events I have done this past month have taught be a lot of about the involvement of the Forest Service in community matters. I also learned a lot about engaging with the public as a part of the USFS.

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