“Giving back to nature and the community inspires me to want to do good things in my life and not use drugs. I know I can now enjoy life sober and it feels great!” commented a participant enrolled in the “Young Women’s Transition Program (YWTP)” at Oak Creek Youth Correctional Facility in Albany.
These women in transition are feeling good about the positive differences they are making by giving back to the community and the natural environment. Fifteen young women have overcome barriers and personal fears to reach out to the local community and stretch themselves in outdoor pursuits.
Last November, women participants sowed native violet seeds at the facility’s greenhouse. They learned the importance of pollinator plants for native butterflies while they watered and cared for their violets over the summer months. On Tuesday, a group of women in the transition program took their plants to Corvallis Audubon’s Hesthavn Nature Center on Oak Creek Road to help in a restoration planting.
Working side by side in an area cleared of grasses and weeds, the women dug holes using dibbles and trowels and carefully planted 200 native violets alongside the nature trail path. Corvallis Audubon members are slowly removing invasive weeds from Hesthavn property and replanting with beneficial native species. “We greatly appreciate that YWTP women came out and engaged in restoration efforts as there is a lot of work to be done. It is terrific to have young people involved in community efforts,” said Ray Drapek, Audubon Hesthavn Chair.
“One thing I love about nature is it makes me feel free of stress and I can enjoy the peace of listening to the birds and flowing water, “commented participant Dominique Newcomer. Mary Jane Rodriquez gave up time at a Christmas party to plant the violets and said, “Being outdoors in nature helps me connect with the spirits of my elders and the Great Creator.” Lori McGovern, transition program counselor, looks forward to bringing the women out again in spring to see their violets in bloom. “Bringing girls from a relatively orderly and somewhat sterile environment into nature and then watching as each individual finds something meaningful strikes me as extraordinary,” comment Ms. McGovern.
“Unlocking the Outdoors,” program is run by Institute for Applied Ecology and Cascadia Expeditions and funded by North Face Explore Funds and Willamette Habitat Restoration. Funding to grow the early blue violets used in this planting event was from Toyota TogetherGreen through the National Audubon Society. “Our goal is to involve these young women in service learning opportunities and outdoor adventure so they can consider new ways to conduct themselves and find hope for the future,” said Stacy Moore, education program director at Institute for Applied Ecology.
Participants also conducted weed pulling at Finley Wildlife Refuge, a beach clean-up near Newport and 3 white water raft trips as part of the program. “I love these opportunities because I get to do things I have never done before and that is important to me,” laughed Dominique Newcomer.
QUESTIONS CONTACT: STACY MOORE 541-908-1093 STACY@APPLIEDECO.ORG