Category Archives: Happenings

Flying Home

The erratic weather patterns of late winter seem to be the signal for birds to return to the Klamath Basin.  Some will stay in southern Oregon for the warmer months while others just lay over here as they journey along the Pacific Flyway.  With over 350 bird species migrating through the area and a significant concentration of bald eagles, the Klamath Basin is a winter haven for birds and birders alike.

I have been doing my own bit of migrating lately.  As a nontraditional student with a family and a career, I commute from my home in Keno, OR driving 110 miles a day to attend graduate school at SOU.  Imagine then, my delight, when our program director decided to lead a birding trip to the Klamath Basin to view Ferruginous Hawks and other migratory birds.  I would finally have the opportunity to share my home with these people who have become my second flock.     

Early on that crisp March morning, seven members of the Environmental Education cohort piled into Subaru Outbacks (stereotypical, right?) to make the journey from Ashland to Keno.  They came in their own kind of winter plumage dressed in cold weather gear, and equipped with binoculars, spotting scopes, and bird guides.

Owls_Klamath Basin_By JohnWe started the day along Townsend Rd., a.k.a. “raptor road” due to the plethora of birds of prey which can be found there.  We saw Red-tailed Hawks, Bald Eagles, and Rough-Legged Hawks hunting the open fields.  The highlight of raptor road was two Great Horned Owls perched above an irrigation ditch. John, the photographer of our group, cautiously made his way around the canal to capture this amazing photograph just before the owls took flight down the canal.  

Flock_Klamath Basin_By JohnNext, we moved on to the Klamath Wildlife Refuge along Stateline Rd.  This vast marsh area is home to abundant water fowl and shore birds.  It was salt and pepper skies as thousands of Ross’s Geese flew in.  Our professor had fun challenging us to a game of ‘name that waterfowl’ as we fumbled through our bird books trying to identify the many species on the water.  I can definitively say that we all got the Northern Pintail right.  

Sandhills_Klamath Basin_By JohnJust outside of the refuge, we spotted Sandhill Cranes mixed in with livestock drinking from a pond.   Joyful expletives were shouted as we rushed out of the cars to get a better view of the birds which for some in the group was their first crane encounter.  This moment depicted all that I love about living in the Klamath Basin: spectacular natural resources, wildlife, and people, existing in juxtaposition.   

Fruggy_Klamath Basin_By JohnThe final leg of our trip took us across the California border near Dorris to find Golden Eagles, Bald Eagles, and Ferruginous Hawks.  At one point, we found all three perched on a single irrigation line.  As I watched these large birds of prey take off and soar above us, I couldn’t help but be envious of their ability to fly (it sure would make my commute easier).  

As we pulled into my driveway at the end of the day, we noticed a Merlin resting on a utility post across the street.  One last bird to close out this epic birding adventure.    

To learn more about birding in the Klamath Basin, visit .

 Below is the full list of birds we saw on this trip.  

-Common Raven

-Lewis’s Woodpecker

-Stellar’s Jay

-American Robin

-Black-billed Magpie

– Great Blue Heron

– Canada Geese

-Rough-legged Hawk


-Red-winged Blackbird


-Red-tailed Hawk (Dark morphs and regular plumage)

-House Finch

-Great Horned Owl

-Common Merganser

-Common Goldeneye

-Lesser Scaup

-Tundra Swan

-Northern Pintail

-Greater White-fronted Goose

-American Wigeon


-Northern Shoveler

-Ruddy Duck (Winter plumage)

-American Coot

-Bald Eagle

-Ross’s Goose (One dark morph was spotted)

-Eared Grebe

-Sandhill Crane

-Ferruginous Hawk

-Say’s Phoebe

-Golden Eagle

-Northern Harrier

-American Kestrel

-Downy Woodpecker




+ 1 coyote

Written by:  Christy Vanrooyen

Pictures by:  John Ward


We’ve all arrived

Cohort 7 is a complete group now. Fall term is underway, the red maples on campus are living up to their name, and soon we’ll begin the year-long planning process that ends with next year’s Fall in the Field. Last weekend, to kick things off right, we all traveled up to Grants Pass, down the Redwood Highway into California, and then back up the coast into Oregon and the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest for some orientation and exploration at the Ludlum House. We had great weather and an even greater time getting to know each other better, establishing how our cohort will tackle the tasks of the coming year, and drinking in the beauty of the Winchuck River, the Oregon Coast, and the breathtaking, majestic, can’t-use-enough-superlative-adjectives-to-describe coast redwoods in northern California’s Jedediah Smith State Park. We can prove it, with this video:

Continue reading We’ve all arrived

What are we thankful for?

Even though it is now after Thanksgiving, Cohort 6 thought that we should share what we are thankful for. With only one week left in the fall term, we are feeling the pressure of being a graduate student.  Between planning for Fall in the Field, studying for final exams, and finishing up those last projects.  We were thankful for our Thanksgiving break!  We would like to take a moment and reflect on what we are thankful for this year.

Erin:  I am thankful that school is almost over this quarter!

Jason:   I am thankful for all of the opportunities presented to me since I have moved to the area. I am thankful for a cohort full of really awesome people, which has made the move here much easier.  I am also thankful for a wife that is willing to put up with all of my antics.

Kathy:  I am thankful for all of life’s constant learning and growing opportunities. 

Kimberly:  I am grateful to have a great group of friends to share Thanksgiving with.  And I’m grateful for good food!

Kristin:  I am thankful for many things this year.  First, I am SO thankful for my lovely cohort members!  You guys make this grad school thing a little bit easier.  Second, I am thankful for my family (and their ability to put up with me)!  I am also thankful that I have such great friends who are willing to visit me all the way across the country during winter break!

Lesley:  I am thankful for my awesome friends and family in GA who constantly support me even though I’m so far away.  I am thankful for the amazing people in my cohort who just accepted me, when I was so worried about fitting in.  I am thankful for all the amazing experiences I have had since I moved here, and all the ones that I know will come in the future.

Peter:  I am most thankful for nature and the people I am able to enjoy it with.

Phylicia: I am thankful for my fellow cohort members, as well as my family and friends from around the world!

What are you most thankful for this year?


The EE family hopes you had a Happy Thanksgiving!


Members of Cohort 6 (and some of their families) celebrated Thanksgiving together this year!
Members of Cohort 6 (and some of their families) celebrated Thanksgiving together this year!

Learning all about insects!

Last week SEEC hosted three classes from John Muir School for a program all about insects! Six SEEC-ers currently in the entomology class planned a fun-filled morning to teach students in grades 2 – 8 about the diversity of insects and various adaptations they have developed during their more than 400 million years on the Earth.

In the first session, students rotated through stations to take up-close looks at insect mouthparts, legs, antennae, and homes. They put their jumping skills to the test in comparison to a grasshopper, which would be able to jump 50 feet if it was a human!  Students dissected insect galls to see if they could find the larvae inside, and took a peek into a paper wasp nest to see how these amazing insects structure their home. They looked through dissecting scopes at beetles and butterflies, and were able to identify the different types of antennae and mouthparts and why they vary from insect to insect.

Caterpillars were just one of the insects the students learned about!
Caterpillars were just one of the insects the students learned about!

In the second room, students used their entomologist skills to observe the similarities and differences between insects, from Rhino beetles to tiny fleas. We discovered that all insects have six legs, antennae, three body regions, and may or may not have wings. Then we talked about all the adaptations that make insects different and help them survive in certain situations. Did you know that more than 1 million different species of insects have been identified and described? But because new species are being discovered every day, scientists predict that there are actually probably more than 3 million different kinds of insects in the world! Students had the opportunity to ‘discover’ their own insect by drawing their own completely unique insect!

Students and SEEC-ers alike had a great time and learned a lot. It was a great opportunity to open our doors to the local community and have some fun sharing our knowledge about insects!

Attend the Beekeepers Ball! Saturday October 19th

Beekeepers Ball Poster SM



The 2nd annual Bee Girl fundraiser, The Beekeepers Ball, will be at the Ashland Community Center on the evening of Saturday, October 19th.  The theme of this year’s Ball is “Sweetness and Light,” which will come in the form of a honey-themed  dinner menu by Figgy’s Food Truck, and music by the Turner Moore Band and Maestro and The Captain of the Flat Five String Band.  There will also be plenty of sweet items to bit on in the silent auction.  To celebrate the end another wonderful year with our bees, come as you are, or as a bee, a beekeeper, your favorite flower, or dress to the nines in yellow and black!  This annual event is an opportunity to support the Bee Girl organization, which focuses on honey bee conservation and beekeeping education.


The festivities will kick off at 59 Winburn Way, across from Lithia Park, at about 6:00 p.m..  Dinner will be served by Melissa (fun fact: her name means honey bee) of Figgy’s Food Truck.  Lucky diners can expect to be treated to her local and organic “Valley Salad” with honey-champagne poached pears, red grapes, cave-aged bleu cheese, almond-cranberries, and honey-pear balsamic.  This will be served next to the main course, as well as a late summer Ratatouille and fresh rolls with honey-thyme-fig butter.


Rogue Valley favorites “Maestro and The Captain” of the Flat Five String Band will start the evening off with their unique sounds which combine musical elements of the French gypsy troubadours, American vintage swing-era, and modern jazz.  Their set will be followed up by rising stars the Turner Moore Band, who’s sweet beats are influenced by Classic Country, Western, Blues, and Jazz.


Donations for the raffle auction are still rolling in, but so far the block boasts not only beekeeping equipment from Shastina Millwork, but sweetness from Slagle Creek Vineyard, The Rouge Creamery, Blue Dog Mead, Dagoba Chocolate, Sunday Afternoons, Yala Designs, and Active Acupuncture of Ashland.


All donations raised from this event will go directly to honey bee conservation and beekeeping education.  Since its inception in February of 2011, the Bee Girl organization has reached thousands of children across the nation through our Kids and Bees program, mentored dozens of new beekeepers, spoken to thousands of Oregonians about bee conservation, assisted in establishing a beekeeping club at Southern Oregon University, and has begun the Farming for Bees initiative.  This year, we have also grown our family of beehives which has enabled us to offer products from the hive to support Bee Girl’s education and conservation endeavors.  Community support is necessary to stay the course on this exciting trajectory.


Showing your support for our honey bees has never been so fun, or tasted so good!  Visit to buy a ticket and join the Beekeepers Ball festivities for music, dinner, dance, and drink!


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About Bee Girl: The Bee Girl mission is to preserve bees, beekeepers, and food resources by providing outreach, education, support, and mentorship for beekeepers and communities.  Bee Girl, a nonprofit organization founded by Sarah Red-Laird, aims to conserve our bees by educating the public on their importance through our programs focused on community classes and events, public lectures, our Kids and Bees program, and our University program.  The Bee Girl organization also facilitates the Farming for Bees initiative, empowering and recognizing land managers who provide habitat for our bees.  Bee Girl engages with communities across the nation spreading knowledge and bringing a sense of wonder from the hive to the people.


If you’d like more information about this event, or to schedule an interview with Sarah Red-Laird, please call 541-708-1127 or



Pilot Rock Geology and Botany Lecture and Hike

This Friday and Saturday, Friends of the Cascade – Siskiyou National Monument and the Bureau of Land Management invite you to learn about the unusual geology and botany of Pilot Rock!

Pilot Rock in the Cascade-Siskiyou NM
Pilot Rock in the Cascade-Siskiyou NM


Dr. Jad D’Allura, Professor Emeritus of Geology, Southern Oregon University

Armand Rebischke, Botanist, Cascade Siskiyou National Monument


Friday September 27, 2013

6:00pm – 7:00 pm

Southern Oregon University, Science Building #171

Dr. Jad D’Allura, Professor Emeritus of Geology


Saturday, September 28, 2013

9:00am – 4:00 pm

Meet at PCT / Pilot Rock

This is a moderate hike.

Group size is limited.  Feel free to attend both the hike and the lecture – or just one of them.

To RSVP and for more information: Email or call 541 – 778 – 0597