By Kim Strassburg, USFWS
What, exactly, happens at an urban refuge?
The idea might come across initially as an oxymoron to some, but that is far from the truth.
Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge is located in Portland, Oregon, and serves as an excellent example of a place where even a city-sized community can engage with nature in a meaningful way.
While a group of 8 to 10-year-olds work on nature photography, Portland Community College conservation biology students explore the refuge trails and interact with staff to learn about wildlife management and conservation careers.
Students expolore the Refuge. (Photo: USFWS)
While pre-school groups make crafts in the Discovery Classroom and walk the trails, teens from a North Portland Youth Employment Institute program explore the Refuge with a volunteer naturalist.
While the refuge biological technician plans an invasive species awareness exhibit, members of a committee from a nearby senior citizens community learn about native and water-wise gardening in order to re-landscape their complex.
And, of course, the education staff of the Refuge is constantly working to plan future adventures.
So many different members of the community come together at an urban refuge. Without the support of volunteers, Friends groups, Friends grant-funded staff and, of course, the Refuge staff, such a learning environment would not be possible.
I am proud, humbled and in awe of what we can accomplish together.
Kim Strassburg is a Visitor Services Manager at Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon.