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2023 Middle School Restoration Olympics

2023 Middle School Restoration Olympics
Allison McGowan

Springfield Public Schools' WELL Project held its annual "Restoration Olympics" in June for Middle School Restoration Program participants.  

The Middle School Restoration Program takes students out to local river and forest habitats to get hands-on experience in the maintenance and restoration of those areas.  Beginning in February, teams from all four SPS middle schools have worked to remove invasive blackberry bushes, studied fish biology and ecology, planted trees and took part in water quality testing.

On the last day of the program, the teams gathered at Elijah Bristow State Park to compete in the Restoration Olympics.  Each station in the competition put the knowledge the students have gained to the test.  Thurston Middle School emerged as the winner of a trophy representing the projects they've taken part in, handmade by Middle Fork Willamette Watershed Council Youth Education Project Lead Autumn Wilson.  

"Having the competition means that we have to make a conscious effort to remember what we've been learning these past few months and apply it to the question to answer them correctly," said Briggs Middle School seventh-grader Celina-Mae "Nico" Nyamute.

"This is one of my favorite programs that I run because these kids all have to apply to be a part of the program, but they don't know what they're getting into," said Stephanie Lawless, WELL Project Coordinator.  "They come out kind of feeling a little shy and timid and then by the end of the school year they're fully engaged, they're very confident, they've gained a lot of knowledge and they've also learned a lot of team building skills.  It's a lot of growth that I see throughout the school year with them."

The WELL Project is funded by Springfield Utility Board (SUB) and is supported by partners Middle Fork Willamette Watershed Council and Oregon State Parks. Learn more about the WELL Project here.