On March 7, 2019, the board of the Oregon Natural Resources Education Foundation (ONREF) met to evaluate and award the 2019 grants.
There are four ONREF sub-funds: ONREF, OSAF, Pleasant Hill, and the Terry Selby Memorial. All four sub-funds are managed by the Oregon Community Foundation. At the end of 2018, the total of the sub-funds was $286,360.
The ONREF sub-fund had $50,000 bequeathed to it from Barte Starker’s estate. [Barte was one of the originators of ONREF.] OSAF, in its 2018 year-end gifting campaign, added $4,000 to the OSAF sub-fund, making the OSAF sub-fund second only to the ONREF sub-fund.
When we looked at the 2019 grant requests, we had nine requests totaling $24,822 and only $11,500 available for granting.
Given that the requests were more than double the available funds, there is still a need to donate to ONREF and work towards having more funds available for future grant requests.
Anyone wishing to donate to ONREF can donate through OSAF, Treasurer Steve Cafferata, or should contact John Moriarty at the Oregon Community Foundation, (541) 431-7099. The donor needs to indicate which of the four sub-funds they want their donations placed.
Perhaps the best news for natural resource education is that natural resource programs are growing all across Oregon. There are now 27 high schools with a “program of study”; i.e., programs recognized by the Oregon Department of Education, a community college, and/or Oregon State University. Additionally, there are another 13 high schools developing a program that will eventually meet program of study requirements. Further, 24 schools are members of Future Natural Resource Leaders, a program offering leadership opportunities for students.
Six community colleges (Central Oregon, Mt. Hood, Tillamook Bay, Treasure Valley, Southwestern Oregon, and Umpqua) now offer forestry classes (Umpqua Community College recently hired its first full-time forestry instructor). Oregon State University still remains as Oregon’s only 4-year university offering baccalaureate degrees in forestry.
With budget cuts in the 1990s, many schools dropped their natural resource programs and there were those who felt the Oregon Department of Education neither valued nor supported these programs. At one point, there were only a half-dozen left. Dr. Reynold Gardner, a former FFA instructor at Junction City, was hired by the ODE to oversee these high school programs.
Reynold understands the importance of natural resource education and, partnering with the Oregon Forest Resources Institute, has been instrumental in the growth of high school natural resource programs. Julie Woodward (OFRI and the Capitol Chapter) and Dick Powell (Starker Forests and Marys Peak Chapter) nominated Reynold for OSAF’s Forestry Appreciation Award. Reynold received this award at OSAF’s annual meeting in April.