Middle schoolers make the most of our coast

The Siuslaw Middle School Stream Team visited Cape Perpetua on May 5. The first half of the field trip was spent exploring tide pools. After lunch, the Stream Team took a hike, where teacher Patrick Wiley identified flora and fauna for the group and also shared wilderness survival tips.

Siuslaw Stream Team’s spirit undampened by rain

May 18, 2022 — When Siuslaw Middle School teacher McKenzie Perry’s Stream Team went on a field trip to Cape Perpetua on Thursday, May 5, this was their second attempt at the trip. 

The outing was originally scheduled for April 20 but, as Perry put it in her email rescheduling the trip, “There's no reason to do an April field trip in the rain/wind/possibly thunderstorms when there are sunnier days coming.”

Sunnier days did come. Sadly, for this group of sixth graders, May 5 was not one of those days. While there were no thunderstorms, there was plenty of rain and wind. There was also an outstanding time had by all.

Perry was due to give birth any day, so she took this trip off and sent substitute Patrick Wiley in her place. Additional help came from a parent and Siuslaw senior Ava Glowacki, who came in with prior experience from her own time in the Stream Team class. She has also assisted Perry at Watershed Camp and is her teacher’s assistant. 

After a 20-minute bus ride, the class arrived at the top of the trailhead just south of the Cape Perpetua Visitor Center. There, the class was met by Darielle Rocca, Field Ranger for the Siuslaw National Forest.

Rocca gave the class a short talk about safety on the rocks around the tide pools and the group proceeded down a short trail that opened up to a rocky area filled with pools filled with tidal waters of the mighty Pacific. Just a few feet from crashing waves, this can be a slippery location; with 19 middle schoolers, all four chaperones were on high alert.

Once everyone got their footing, the tide pool exploring began. 

The Stream Team found kelp crab, sea stars, anemones, sea urchin, sculpins, barnacles, sea cucumber and many more creatures. Much to the children’s glee, they were even allowed to touch most of the organisms they discovered … carefully, with just two fingers.

The rain and wind never let up during the team’s time on the rocks and, though everyone got quite wet, no one’s enthusiasm was dampened.

Next was lunch, during which Wiley gave a presentation on staying dry. He explained how heat moves through the body, how different fabrics conduct heat and how to stay dry in wet conditions.  

After lunch it was time for a hike. 

Though convincing sixth graders that a long walk is a good idea can be a challenge, most of the kids were relieved to be at least partially out of the rain thanks to the forest’s canopy.

The trail was a gradual climb up a hill through a coastal rainforest. Wiley stopped the group often to identify many trees and plants. The group learned about the different berries that can be found on the Oregon coast like huckleberry, salal, blackberry and salmonberry. 

There are many different types of trees on the Oregon coast and Wiley pointed out the numerous species. There was hemlock, spruce and Douglas fir. He taught that where there’s alder, there’s water — a very useful wilderness survival tip.

He also drew attention to bracken fern, sword fern, rhododendron and skunk cabbage.

The rain never let up. Nor did the constant chatter of the children. There were almost no complaints about the length of the hike, something that anyone who has hiked with 12-year-olds knows is a huge accomplishment.

Upon return to the beginning of the trailhead, bus driver Jeff Gray had warmed up the bus and was waiting to provide a much needed warm and dry transportation back to Siuslaw Middle School.

Next for the Stream Team is a trip to Siltcoos Outlet.

Stream Team, Siuslaw Middle School’s Salmon and Watersheds Education program, uses field trips and classroom watershed-based instruction to offer students chances to learn “hands-on” and “in-the-field” about the natural resources of our area. 

Subjects covered by the Stream Team include “What is a Watershed? How It Works, Natural Changes Within,” “Habitat Loss,” “Alien Species,” “Restoration/Enhancement,” “Sustainable Natural Resources” and “Stewardship.” Forest, stream, estuary, and salmon are Siuslaw Watershed and, in turn, the Stream Team’s, focal points. 

For more information, go to www.siuslaw.k12.or.us/page/siuslaw-salmon-watershed-program.

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