Tsalila Education Days

Students work in a riverbox during Tsalila Education Days, building up banks to observe the effects of flooding.

REEDSPORT — The 23rd annual Tsalila Education Days kicked off last week at the Umpqua Discovery Center, teaching area students and chaperones about the South Coast's natural and cultural history.

A volunteer from the National Forest Service teaches kids about cedar during Tsalila Education Days at the Umpqua Discovery Center.

About 1,000 third and fourth graders, and their chaperones, come through the Discovery Center each year. Diane Novak, director of the Discovery Center, said this year's students were from schools in Reedsport, North Bend, Coos Bay and Florence. Umpqua Discovery Center works with U.S. Forest Service, the Department of Fish and Wildlife, and the Confederated Tribes of the Coos, Lower Umpqua and Suislaw to provide a program of activity stations to learn about various subjects.

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Novak said the activities for third graders included a riverbox, where kids learned about river tides and flooding; a variety of live birds and lessons on how they've adapted — Novak recalled students were given tools to mimic various bird's beaks to show how they pick things up and eat; and lessons on fishing and water bugs. Students in fourth grade focused more on learning local history. Among their activities, they went through the center's exhibits, learned to make herring rakes and tule ducks, as well as the uses of cedar.

Tsalila Education Days began as part of a festival, which included times when students could come to participate in educational activities. As participation in the festival declined over time, the focus shifted to be more about the education days. The program only has a limited number of slots available for schools to schedule time in the center each year. Getting a scheduled day is a first-come, first-served basis and Novak said schools have to grab time early or miss the opportunity.

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Reporter Adam Robertson can be reached at 541-297-3590, or by email at adam.robertson@theworldlink.com.