The Friends and Neighbors of the Deschutes Canyon Area provided two days of educational field trips for students from the Redmond Proficiency Academy on June 13-14. High school students from the classes of Julie O’Neill and Jonathan Moore chose an elective course titled “The Call of Nature," with a focus on nature as therapy for physical and mental health.

Students performed community service by pulling invasive weeds along the middle Deschutes River at Borden Beck Wildlife Preserve, a property managed by the Redmond Area Park and Recreation District.

FANs member Marilynne Keyser gave each a copy of a book she co-authored, "A Guide to Common Weeds of the Deschutes Canyon Area." She then challenged the students to clear out the invasive flannel mullein along the trail.

The group grabbed bags and tools and set off along the trail. Within a hour or two, they collected 20 large bags of weeds, predominately mullein.

After lunch, they donned binoculars and tried out birdwatching. Within an hour, 19 species of birds were identified and reported to Cornell Lab of Ornithology through the eBird app.

Crooked River Ranch was the base for the students’ second day. FANs hike leaders Eric Hanson and Wendy Fink led them on a hike where they learned about local geology and the history of the area. First Aid, leave no trace ethics and quiet time to enjoy nature were also part of the experience.

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