Conservation Neighbor Patti Warner

Dixon Creek Trail at Jefferson Elementary © T. MattesonPatti Warner had a vision of conservation that she turned into a reality with the help of a supportive community and the power of networking. As the 4-H Wildlife Stewards coordinator for Jefferson Elementary, Patti recruited community organizations and agencies to help with the restoration project entitled Keepers of the Creek. The project partners included Boy Scout Troop 163, OSU Extension 4-H, Corvallis Public Works, Benton Soil and Water Conservation District, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, Corvallis Parks and Rec, Corvallis Disposal & Recycling (Allied Waste), Corvallis Audubon Society, and Kiwanis. Patti also ensured that students in every grade were able to participate in the riparian restoration project along Dixon Creek. But a good networker knows it takes more than warm bodies for a project to succeed: it takes funding and supplies!

The Keepers of the Creek project received grants and awards ranging from $50 to over $13,000 from local, state and national groups including Kiwanis, Benton County, Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board, the Environmental Protection Agency, and others! These funds enabled the Keepers of the Creek to create a hands-on wildlife habitat education site along a stretch of Dixon Creek between Circle and Kings Blvd behind Jefferson Elementary in Corvallis. With the combination of supplies, volunteers and Patti’s organizational skills, the area was restored and maintained over a period of four years.

“Ultimately we hope others will ‘adopt’ sections of urban creeks in Corvallis using this project as a model.”

When asked what she hoped this project would accomplish, Patti replied, “Ultimately we hope others will ‘adopt’ sections of urban creeks in Corvallis using this project as a model.”

With the current trend in outdoor and place-based education, habitat restoration projects are on the rise. Patti’s expertise will soon be shared with all interested parties when she publishes her Keepers of the Creek Guide Book. Her book will cover the steps taken in the formation of the Keepers of the Creek project including groups to contact, grant information and elementary curriculum projects to share with other schools. Look for the Guide Book – the final element of a networking success story – in the summer of 2007!

Contact Maggie Livesay, OSU Extension, for information about the Wildlife Stewards program. (Maggie.Livesay@oregonstate.edu or (541) 766-6750)