We’ve finished up most of our training, and are starting to get involved with some of the volunteer projects that the Shoreline Education for Awareness (SEA) and US Fish & Wildlife sponsor. This is the most diverse volunteer position we’ve been involved in; our training covered subjects such as whales, tidepools, shorebirds of the area, wetlands restoration, and our recent challenge – searching for invertebrates in the tidal flats.
We’re working with the “Shoreline Sisters”, two young ladies from USF&W who teach elementary school students about shorebirds. After four classes at their school, the students are bussed to the Bandon Marsh National Wildlife Refuge where volunteers teach them to use spotting scopes to identify shorebirds, see them up close with a presentation from Free Flight, a bird rehabilitation center, and finally, a chance to get up close and personal with the creatures that shorebirds eat. One-third of the class at a time is giving instructions on how to use a shovel and what to look for, and with plastic tub and shovel in hand, off they go into the mud to look for treasures. It’s an interesting mix of personalities at this, the 5th-grade level; there are the “dive in and get muddy” kids, and the manicured young divas who aren’t too crazy about touching mud-encrusted worms and bugs. But after a while, even the divas dive in, the lure of unknown treasures finally winning out. Mostly they find Polychaetes, a bristly, squirmy worm, small clams, and isopods, small, many- legged little crustaceans. After a few discoveries and shouts of success, the digging becomes a contest, and soon all of the kids are poring through the mud trying to become the leader in critter-gathering. It’s great fun, although hard work, slogging through the mud and occasionally trying to pull a stuck student out of the cement-like goo (it’s always the BIG ones). The two young ladies of “Shoreline Sisters” are amazing – patient, upbeat, hard working – it’s a great program and hopefully the kids will grow up with an appreciation for the wildlife around them.
On Saturday, we picked up fellow volunteers Don and Betty and headed into Charleston to the Oregon Institute of Marine Biology and their “Aw Shucks” oyster feed. For a reasonable fee, we were served a cafeteria-style dinner of oysters (choice of breaded, sautéed, or barbequed) with side dishes and drinks. As you can see by the picture, Don and I enjoyed the oysters, while Betty and Brenda opted for hot dogs instead. Which of course proves once again that only real men eat oysters! We had to wonder though, since this was a “marine biology” school, if we were eating the leftover cadavers of oyster research…….but they were tasty!
This week we’ll spend some more time with the Shoreline Sisters and also spend time on an overlook showing folks the seals and sea lions. In between there’s lots in the area to explore, so c’mon back and visit!