By Helen Hollyer
By any measure Creswell's Apr. 22 second annual East Day Celebration was a rousing success.
The weather was sunny and mild, more than 250 students from two elementary and two high schools participated, with high school students helping lead activities for the elementary school students, and a long list of volunteers, organizations and businesses made possible activities that were fun as well as educational.
During the preceding six months, Coast Fork Willamette Watershed Council coordinated the event with city of Creswell RARE intern Wes Johnson. In addition to supporting Garden Lake Park work parties leading up to the event, CFWWC worked with third-grade teachers to conduct pre- and post-event evaluations.
During the event, five CFWWC volunteers led nature walks that focused on habitats and food webs at the park, along with hosting the salmon tent with its depiction of salmon life cycles. CFWWC also recruited and supported Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife's macroinvertebrate station.
Anne O'Connell, who helped plan the event, and her Creswell High School students, helped lead activities and Ryan King and his Kennedy High School students assisted in trail building and other activities for students in four third-grade and five fifth-grade Creslane classes and a combined second- and third-grade Creswell Christian School class.
Activities fell into five categories – recycling, stewardship, energy, animals and nature walks – plus other activities and information booths.
After a brief presentation by Sanipac representative PJ Swick, student participated in a relay during which they raced to sort various materials into bins to be either recycled or discarded.
Led by volunteers Titus Tomlinson and Stephanie Scafa, they learned to create sculpture and other artwork from reused materials donated by Materials Exchange Center for Community Arts (M.E.C.C.A.). The art was created without the use of adhesives.
Throughout the day, students stopped by the BRING Mandala station to help build an enormous mandala design using more than 6,000 re-used bottle caps.
Moving from recycling to stewardship activities, students learned about pH from O'Connell and her CHS students and then used a variety of pH indicators to determine the ph of a water sample.
Fifth-grade students were able to participate in trail building exercises.
Other students, accompanied by members of the Creswell Youth Advisory Council and Kennedy High School students and faculty, walked to the far northwest corner of Garden Lake Park where a new trail construction project is nearing completion.
Students were given the opportunity to do simple trail maintenance tasks and help clean up the park with new grabber tools.
In the energy realm, Emerald People's Utility District representatives assisted students in making and decorating windmill pinwheels and demonstrated solar power generation.
Students also learned the concept of velocity by constructing paper boats, and then calculating the velocity of water moving through a drainage stream using the "float method," based on the time in seconds it took for the boats to float 20 feet downstream.
O'Connell and her students led this activity, with CFWWC volunteer Larry Weaver helping.
Inside a giant salmon-shaped tent, CFWWC volunteer Aimee Hart used costumes and salmon life-cycle stages preserved in formaldehyde to demonstrate the "salmon food web."
Oregon Department of Fish & wildlife representatives used a macroinvertebrate station to teach about pond creatures, and local experts on environmental education led students on exploration of Garden Lake Park, touching on such topics as geography, living and non-living things, habitats, native and invasive plant species, fish, birds, insects and other wildlife.
Other activities and information booths included the Sanipac Duck Truck, a display of velomobile and Bug-E alternative vehicles and a Camas Educational Network display.
Of course, the day would not have been complete without cold drinks and refreshments provided by Community Sharing Program and Siuslaw Bank's always-popular snow cones