On the Refuge monthly column
The Native Plant Sale and the Bird Festival are over for another year. June has arrived with warmer weather making it a perfect month to get out on the Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge. The songbirds are still singing on their territories. Their young are hatching and fledging.
If you walk quietly and listen to the sounds around you, you may spot a nest with baby birds calling for food. Canada geese, mallards, wood ducks, cinnamon teal and, occasionally, hooded mergansers may be seen with their youngsters this month. Wildflowers are still blooming. Look for bleeding heart and red columbine in the woods and Scouler's popcorn flower in white masses in the meadows. Watch for butterflies and dragonflies, especially on warm days.
If you've spent time on the refuge and wondered about volunteering there, the Friends of the Refuge would like to hear from you. People with a love for nature and volunteering are needed to help with a variety of environmental education opportunities provided at the Refuge.
Trail Rovers come to the refuge on their own schedule, anytime from sunup to sundown, and walk the trails. They offer a friendly smile and provide information to visitors. They answer questions, point out sights that visitors might miss and note what is happening on the refuge. Their reports give the refuge staff a picture of what is happening on a day-to-day basis.
Volunteer naturalists go through a training program that prepares them to assist with field trips and other educational opportunities at the refuge. If you enjoy sharing your love of nature with others, from toddlers to residents of assisted living homes, this may be a position you would enjoy.
The visitor center is home to Nature's Overlook, the Friends of the Refuge nature store This is where visitors can see an exhibit about the history of the refuge, use a spotting scope to watch birds or buy a field guide. It is staffed entirely by volunteers and is a lively place. Visitors stop in with all sorts of questions and give volunteers a chance to share their knowledge of nature and the refuge. Volunteers assist people in selecting a field guide for their adventures, picking out a children's book and gift items and ring up the sales.
Second Saturday Work Party: 8:45 a.m. to noon June 8
Puddle Stompers: 1 to 2:30 p.m. June 12 and 10 to 11:30 a.m. June 18
This pre-school environmental education program invites children and their families to spend the morning learning about the natural wonders of the refuge, including this month's theme: butterflies. Volunteer naturalists lead nature crafts, share stories and guide hikes on refuge trails.
Drop-in Exploration Days: noon to 2 p.m. June 16
This activity will continue throughout the summer with various themes rotating weekly.
Join us for free activities and crafts in our environmental education classroom. Come explore animal tracks and make your own to take home. All ages are welcome and activities are held held in the visitor center. No registration is required for this drop-in program. Stay as long as you like within the two hour time frame.
Pam Farris is a member of Friends of the Refuge