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Mastering the natural history of Oregon's storied lands

By Lee Sherman
Terra Magazine
OSU's Terra Magazine features Land Trust volunteer Mary Crow and one of her hikes at Rimrock Ranch.
Mastering the natural history of Oregon's storied lands

Mary Crow leads a hike at Rimrock Ranch with Terra Magazine filming. Photo: Lisa Bagwell.

When Mary Crow paddles her kayak on Sparks Lake near Sisters, she can hear the water draining into the lava tubes below. Listening to the water gurgle, thinking about the ancient eruptions that formed Central Oregon’s porous landscape, makes her shiver with wonder and delight.

Dave Bone can’t stop talking about the wild wolves he spotted in Yellowstone Park last summer. If he tells you the story more than once — about how the pack jostled and tumbled playfully on a meadow where bison grazed, unperturbed — he should be forgiven. His awe is boundless and unabashed.

Crow and Bone are lifelong naturalists and two of the first 46 participants to complete all 80-plus hours of training for Oregon State University’s Oregon Master Naturalist program (OMN). An online curriculum gave them an overview of Oregon’s biology, geology and ecology as well as natural resources stewardship and management.  They then met face-to-face with university scientists and other experts for classroom instruction and fieldwork in one of three ecoregions: East Cascades, Oregon coast and Willamette Valley.

What the graduates do with their expertise looks different from place to place, person to person. One person might collect data as a citizen scientist, counting dead seabirds for COASST (Coastal Observation and Seabird Survey Team), for instance, or monitoring water quality for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. Another person might be a guide, leading interpretive hikes for the Deschutes Land Trust. A third might opt for hands-on stewardship, planting aspen seedlings or building beaver barriers for a local watershed council. People who are less physically active might greet visitors at an interpretive center or use their skills behind the scenes designing brochures, editing newsletters or updating websites. Read the whole article... including more about Mary's experience leading hikes at Rimrock Ranch.

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