Category Archives: Science


Field Education

As the weather gets chillier and wetter, our schedule changes from the beginning of the year. With our first two Spike’s under our belts, we transition to our Field Education weeks, alternating between time in the classroom and time in the field.

Each week of Field Education the students spend 2-3 days on a work site around Eugene. Thus far we have spent our field education weeks working at the Spencer Butte Challenge course ( as seen below), and Hendricks Park.

IMG_2927            Work site activities can include trail maintenance,

IMG_2913 debarking and splitting logs,

IMG_2919moving logs to line trails, and much more. The students learn the skills required for any sort of work environment (strong work ethic, taking responsibility for your actions, being prepared), and help the greater community.

In addition to the work site, students spend the remaining days exploring. This  includes physically adventuring into various pockets around Eugene, from rivers and mountain tops, to Taxidermy shops and BowTech.


We ventured West to explore the rivers where Wild Salmon were still spawning. Several salmon were spotted around Whittaker Creek, included a pair of fighting males.


A group of students even went Chantrell hunting, collecting this rich bounty in just a hour.

IMG_2995 Students hiked up to the top of Spencer’s Butte to see the sights.


Some exploration was closer to home, such as this venture up to Moon Mountain where students dabbled in the art of camouflage…IMG_3078

…and fire making. The wet and windy conditions proved a challenge, but these students persevered, carefully slicing away dry tinder, and were rewarded with a small flame before it was time for lunch.

IMG_2934IMG_2946 IMG_2976IMG_2954 Students at the taxidermist shop got a full tour of the facilities, and got to see all stages of the process.IMG_3094

Some students went on a tour of the BowTech facilities as well, seeing all the machinery and people needed to put together the most advanced archery equipment.

Not all of our adventures required us to leave the classroom however. Some activities were able to be completed right here at ODS…


…such as this steam engine that a group of dedicated students put together…

IMG_3081IMG_3085 IMG_3088IMG_3092  …or these ghillie suits that students made, learning about camouflage and the concept of biomimicry.

And of course for the holidays, one can’t forget the Gingerbread Cookies and houses. IMG_3098 IMG_3105

Gingerbreadhouse2 George GingerbReadHouse


We’re excited to see what new adventures 2016 will bring for our Field Education.

Happy Holidays to all!



Initial SPIKE!

We have done it!

Last Friday we returned from our first 5-day Spike of the year.  The week started off strong, with the students diving right into the packing process. Mid-morning both groups were packed, and pulling out of the NYC parking lot to their respective sites.

Each group spent 2 days working at Quamash Prairie, collecting and dispersing native plant seed, helping mitigate the effects of the dump constructed nearby. After a hard day’s work, the crews headed to Fall Creek, where they spent down time fishing, exploring and getting their feet wet.

The other two days and nights were spent near Waldo lake hiking, bushwhacking, fishing, and catching crawdads. Members of both groups went rafting, working together as a group to steer their watercraft either around the edges of Odell Lake for optimum fishing, or in the center of Waldo Lake, where students had the opportunity to gaze deep down into the crystal clear, oligotrophic waters.


A peninsula on Lake Waldo that one group bushwhacked to reach. At this peninsula the students read about the importance of wilderness areas, and spent time doing a written reflection.Waterfeet

Cool down with feet in the glacial-fed lake. Waldo

A moment of relaxation after a hike and bushwhacking.Paddling

Students explore the heart of Waldo Lake via raft.


An eager boat of fishing at Odell Lake resulted in nearly a dozen caught fish, 4 of which were kept for dinner.Fire

After a day of fishing, students built a rack to roast their fresh caught Cockney Salmon over an open fire.Crawdadding



One group of students hiked up to Rosary Lake, and spent the day fishing and collecting over 60 crawdads, which we stored in the water jug seen above.

A good time was had, and now we’re back to the classroom grind post-shower and weekend relaxation.

Initial Spike Photo Album

Snowy Owl at Fern Ridge!

This handsome fella has taken over Tern Island at Fern Ridge reservoir. ODS went to catch a glimpse of the only snowy owl in the Willamette Valley and we succeeded!

Courtesy of Alysha Thompson

Rumors in the birding community have led us to believe that this owl got the boot from the Arctic. The larger, more seasoned males tend to pick on the younger birds while competing for mates. Having fled the abuse of the Arctic flock, this young bachelor is finding it hard to blend in among the black rocks of Tern Island. We are lucky to have seen him!

Courtesy of Alysha Thompson


Cascades Raptor Center


Have you been out to Cascades Raptor Center? Students at ODS spent their week of Field Education with the raptors. Over the humming of chainsaws on the job site, students were able to learn and work among the resident animals.

The Raptor Center had a close call last summer when a fire on Spencer Butte forced an evacuation of resident and rehab birds. Considering the heavily wooded setting at the Raptor Center, the staff requested that ODS and Northwest Youth Corps’ CCC work to fire-proof the perimeter. One week and many chainsaws later, the Raptor Center can feel at ease about the safety of the birds.


Rainbows Are Neat!

The ODS camping trips include day hikes and backpacking adventures where we are able to observe natural phenomenon that the classroom setting does not provide. Here is circumhorizontal arc we saw on a hiking trip in the Diamond Peak Wilderness!

Photo courtesy of Chris Michael