Highlights from a 5th Grade Field Trip

The Crest at Willow-Witt

Recently, The Crest welcomed 38 5th grade students, or should we say “environmental scientists”?  They participated in an exploration of the diverse habitats as they explored the themes of biodiversity and a healthy ecosystem.

The fun began with touring the farm and getting our hands dirty making seed balls to attract pollinators. Afterwards, we hiked to the campground where students were introduced to the forests and wetlands on the property.

The young naturalists partook in a modest hike up to the famous Turtle Pond while carrying binoculars and practicing good naturalist behavior. Some students found fox scat, tiny mushrooms, oozing sap, and even cricket exoskeletons. All of them, however, made guesses as to what lives in this forest based on their observations.

Additionally, the students planted willows in the wetland to support restoration. As we wrap up fall programs, we are preparing for residential Outdoor School for 5th and 6th grade students in the spring. The brand new wall tents are up and they will hold up to 60 students and chaperones. 


Gearing Up to Give

outdoor school class learning about moss and lichen

Now is the time of the year to reflect and decide where we want to put our energy and resources. Collectively, we’re looking at how we can support the organizations that share our values. 

Tips for year-end giving: 

  • When possible, stay local
  • Choose organizations aligned with your values
  • Look for organizations with concrete impact 

We are grateful to those who choose to give to The Crest. Your gifts help us accomplish our mission to give more students the opportunity to experience outdoor education in a welcoming, natural environment. 


Meet Liz!

Education Coordinator for The Crest

outdoor school class learning about moss and lichen

Hi, my name is Liz Bianco and I am the new Education Coordinator for the Crest. Recently, I helped coordinate Summer Nature Day Camp and am now busy planning programming for school visits and residential Outdoor School. I am passionate about nature connection and service learning with children and youth! 

Before teaching, I graduated with a B.A. in Peace and Conflict Studies from U.C. Berkeley where I also minored in Conservation Resource Studies. Afterwards, I studied Ecopsychology in a Master’s program. I bring my background in wilderness therapy, sustainable farm and garden education, and teaching outdoor science school throughout the Rogue Valley.

fifth grade outdoor school class on field trip at the ranch

“We had such a great experience visiting the farm and learning about ecosystems. Thank you!”  
– Mrs. Haden, 5th grade teacher

Additionally, I bring my years of experience as an educator and program leader for preschool through high school ages. I was first introduced to Willow-Witt Ranch many years ago when my family had an organic farm stand next to them at our local farmers market.

Ten years ago, I would come to Willow-Witt Ranch with my young children and friends to visit goats and connect with the forest. Today, I am very happy to host children and youth at The Crest as I help teach, plan, and coordinate programs.


Who’s flying?
white-crowned sparrow closeup

White-Crowned Sparrow

The White-crowned sparrow(Zonotrichia leucophrys) has returned to Willow-Witt Ranch for the winter. This large sparrow can be found scurrying around in bushes and hanging out near backyard feeders. Look for their bold white and black stripes on their crown, as they are often seen in flocks with Golden-crowned sparrow.

What’s blooming?
incense cedar seeds closeup

Incense Cedar

Right now, incense cedars (Calocedrus decurrens) are giving our deep-green conifer forests bursts/speckles of yellow “flowers”. Incense cedars, which are not true cedars, but rather a member of the cypress family, are named for their scented scaly leaves. To find an incense cedar yourself, look in evergreen forests for their duck bill-shaped cones.

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The Crest is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization

The Crest nonprofit organization relies on donations to support youth programs and give community groups the chance to experience the wonders of nature to learn about and feel a connection to the natural world. Please consider contributing to this natural legacy by making a tax-deductible donation.

THE CREST

658 Shale City Road
Ashland OR 97520

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