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GHCC Partners with Go-ASAP to Connect Kids to Nature

“Whoa!” exclaimed the kids in unison. GHCC Restoration Director Brian Kelly had just told them that dwarf mistletoe can launch its seeds at over 60 miles per hour.

That’s just one of the fun facts Union County middle schoolers learned from him on a hike last week, where GHCC has teamed up with EOU’s Go-ASAP program, headed by professor Kelly Rice.

Go-ASAP introduces recreating in the outdoors to local kids who might not otherwise have easy access to wild spaces or equipment. Rice and her assistants take them hiking, skiing, mountain biking, and snowshoeing, and the program culminates in an overnight backpacking trip.

This year, GHCC is getting to tag along and talk local ecology during some of the activities. The first topic? Trees!

Brian, our official tree expert, took kids on a hike up Owsley Canyon in the Mount Emily Recreation Area outside of La Grande, bringing a hands-on approach to learning about the amazing ways trees are connected to each other, soils, wildlife, and us human folk.

The kids got to feel, explore, and talk about the genius ways trees adapt and survive--and their critical importance to all life.

A few kids in particular stood in awe as Brian explained photosynthesis, connectivity, and how to age and identify different species such as Douglas fir, grand fir, and ponderosa pine. There were plenty of laughs upon learning their scientific names.

As we stood in the gravel parking lot at the end of the hike, the students got to share their favorite learnings from the afternoon. “The seeds launching at the speed of a car!” exclaimed one. “I love how trees can make their own food,” said another.

And perhaps the best quote of all: “I can’t wait to come back out here with my family and show them what I learned about the trees.”

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