The Bear Creek Watershed Education Partners (BCWEP) formed in November, 1994 as part of the Bear Creek Watershed Council and became a nonprofit corporation in February 2000. BCWEP is made up of educators, citizens and local, state, and federal agency personnel from throughout the Bear Creek Watershed. Superintendents from local school districts fully support our activities.
BCWEP is a membership organization that offers participants the opportunity to learn from each other. BCWEP meetings provide a forum for discussing environmental education issues, developing projects and new partnerships. BCWEP develops funding proposals that provide support for a variety of outdoor education activities. Membership is open to anyone with an interest in outdoor education or improving conditions in our watershed.
Our mission is to provide increased watershed education opportunities for Rogue Valley youths and to encourage educators, students, communities, and public agencies and organizations to work together to protect, enhance, and maintain Bear Creek and neighboring Rogue Basin watersheds.
- To teach our students that a healthy watershed is essential in maintaining a healthy human environment.
- To achieve a balanced and healthy ecosystem within the Bear Creek and neighboring watersheds.
- To provide "hands on" experience in watershed enhancement.
- To reach students who are not reached by traditional teaching methods.
- To provide training for educators so that they can learn outdoor education and environmental science procedures and methods.
- To stimulate community and agency involvement in educational activities.
As BCWEP Coordinator, Rebecca organizes meetings and events, develops relationships with partnering organizations, procures needed equipment and materials, plans workshops and leads field trips and tours. Rebecca's desire to share her love of the outdoors has taken her all over the country. Her employment experience has ranged from being a National Park Service ranger in Alaska to a canoe guide in Florida. She taught at an outdoor school in San Luis Obispo and more recently teaches for Rogue Valley Farm to School. As a recent graduate of SOU's masters program in Environmental Education, she is always looking for ways to get people connected to their local environment.
Dick Barbara, President
Dick is a retired Jacksonville School teacher. He has 28 years experience teaching grades 2 through 8. He is a founding member of BCWEP and has worn many hats for the organization since it began in the early 1990s. He coordinated the annual Bear Creek Cleanup from 1992-present, was a Watershed Education Symposium facilitator for 10 years and an Educator Workshop instructor. He's also a participant in the Bear Creek Water Quality Education Project and the Bear Creek Stewardship Project. Dick is currently studying Spanish so he can better communicate with the Bear Creek Watershed's growing minority population.
John Letz, Vice-President
John is a retired English Language Learners teacher. He taught at Kennedy, Roosevelt, and Hoover Elementary Schools in Medford, Oregon. He has coordinated water quality testing at Lazy Creek with multiple classes, and volunteers with BCWEP's Kids and Creeks event. John helped organize Spanish 4H clubs at Griffin Creek and Kennedy schools. John has also produced films about nature in Alaska and about geography in Argentina.
George is a retired North Medford High School biology teacher and BCWEP founding member. George works with the BCWEP Coordinator to track and approve all grant spending. He has developed water quality training sessions for local educators, ongoing watershed enhancement projects, and has monitored stream conditions for 10 years. He participates in the Bear Creek Water Quality Education Project and Bear Creek Stewardship Project.
Clayton is a retired 5th grade teacher at Griffin Creek Elementary School in Medford, Oregon, and is a founding member of BCWEP, where he has been actively involved for 15 years. He participates in the Bear Creek Water Quality Education Project and the Bear Creek Stewardship Project. He led a series of workshops for local teachers titled: “Last Teacher in the Woods,” providing 14 local teachers with environmental education background, skills and knowledge. Clayton was a 2006 PAEMST Science Teacher of the Year finalist.
Haven Combs and Anna Palmer
Haven Combs (Environmental Science & Chemistry) and Anna Warntjes(English & Social Studies) team teach a program in the Crater Renaissance Academy that explores and evaluates how Southern Oregon, the Pacific Northwest and global community relate to science, business, the environment, agriculture and recreation. They use project-based learning and work with agencies such as BCWEP, ODFW, BLM, & the EXPO to provide opportunities for hands-on learning through field research and lab-based investigative studies. In the program students earn English, World Studies, and Environmental Science credit to meet current graduation requirements. This is an environmentally focused class and addresses the ideas of land use management, water quality and stream health, cultivating a healthy ecosystem, composting, and recycling. Students are expected to take ownership of the land and provide all necessary cleanup and maintenance for the facility in order to become stewards of the environment.
Kathy is a Talent Middle School 6th-8th grade teacher. Kathy assisted with development of a student nature trail on Wagner Creek and participates in the Bear Creek Water Quality Education Project and Bear Creek Stewardship Project. She is a leader in local efforts for progressive science education at the middle school level and has many connections to the local Latino community. Kathy was the 2006-2007 Southern Oregon Teacher of the Year. She has also taught ESL in Bangkok, Thailand at Indochinese War Refugee Camps for Volunteers International and completed a 200 mile hike in the Annapura area of the Himalayas in Nepal & spent time in New Zealand in the alpine areas of Mt. Cook National Park skiing and hiking.
Sam has been involved with BCWEP since 2007. He served as the BCWEP Coordinator from 2007-2010 and has sat on the board for the past 3 years. He holds an MS in Environmental Education from Southern Oregon University. Sam is currently the coordinator of the Rogue Basin Coordinating Council, a non-profit that works to promote watershed restoration work throughout the Rogue Basin.
Coyote Trails Nature Center: Since the summer of 2008, BCWEP has been housed at the Coyote Trails Nature Center in Medford, Oregon. CTNC is located directly on Bear Creek and an ideal location for conducting service-learning programs in hands-on riparian restoration.
Medford Water Commission: The Medford Water Commission operates and maintains the water system that delivers high-quality drinking water to over 90,000 Rogue Valley residents. The Commission is an autonomous agency of the City of Medford, Oregon, established through a change in the City's Charter in 1922. Big Butte Springs is the Water Commission's primary water source, with the Rogue River used as a supplement during the summer months.
Rogue Valley Council of Governments (RVCOG): How we manage water is an important concern in our region. We all are responsible for cooperatively cleaning up our waters and providing a healthier, more livable environment for everyone. The Water Resources Department, established in 1978, is involved in a wide range of activities across the Rogue Basin to facilitate region-wide progress to improve the health of our watersheds.
OSU Extension Service: The 4-H Forestry and Natural Resource Program at OSU Extension partners with BCWEP on enhancement projects and workshops. OSU extension is an organizing partner in the Kids & Creeks event.
Bear Creek Watershed Council: The Bear Creek Watershed Council has recently merged into the Rogue River Watershed Council. More information and website coming soon. To learn more about what you can do to keep Bear Creek clean go to www.stream-smart.com
Southern Oregon University Environmental Education Program: The Siskiyou Environmental Education Center (SEEC) is operated by the Environmental Education Masters Program (EE) and provides graduate students opportunities to develop curricula and resource materials as well as present programs to school groups and the public. SEEC houses a variety of educational resources including fabulous lesson kits, binoculars and more available for check out, and an Outdoor School run by grad students at the Deer Creek Center in the Illinois Valley.
North Mountain Park Nature Center: The Ashland Parks and Recreation Department operates this community resource for environmental education. Located on Bear Creek in Ashland, North Mountain Park offers educational programs to adults and children and has special programs for schoolchildren.
SOLVE: SOLVE is a non-profit organization that brings together government agencies, businesses and individual volunteers in programs and projects to enhance the livability of Oregon. SOLVE is an annual partner for the Bear Creek Cleanup held each year.
Lomakatsi Restoration Project: A nonprofit organization that designs and implements ecological restoration projects in damaged forests and watersheds throughout southern Oregon and northern California. BCWEP partners with Lomakatsi to provide watershed education on restoration projects.