Spring is our busiest time with community outreach, due to the sunnier weather and the multitude of Spring festivals. This year, I had the opportunity to attend and provide outreach at the Entiat Swallowfest, Chelan Earth Day Fair, Leavenworth Earth Day Community Fair, Entiat Earth Day at the elementary school, Apple Blossom Youth Day, and Touch-a-Truck. Each festival varied in size, but we reached 75-200 community members at each event. This year we partnered with Team Naturaleza, which allowed us to bring kids arts and crafts as well as educational material to each event.
As a part of Earth Day, I reinvigorated our district’s Earth Day essay contest. It was open to students in grades 6-8 and I had 37 students from three schools participate. This year’s theme focused on encouraging the students to reflect on an experience they’ve had in nature that inspires them to care for the Earth. The top three essay winners each received student memberships to the Wenatchee Valley Museum and Cultural Center, as well as hand painted nature journals from local naturalist Heather Wallis Murphy. Prizes were presented at the Leavenworth Earth Day Community Fair.
Educational outreach is critical to all of our programs. For example, at the Chelan fair I had three groups of people sign up for fire risk assessments for their properties, which is part of our Firewise program. The festivals give us a chance to meet with and talk to the community about all of the programs and services we have to offer. It also gives us a chance to address any concerns or questions that individuals may have. I have learned through the outreach that often times individuals do want to help their land improve, thereby improving their environment, but they don’t know where to begin. That is when we can help bridge that gap by connecting our resource professionals to the concerns and problems facing a particular area.