Green Spotlight: Kersey Marion

With donor support, The Environmental Center accomplishes a lot with a relatively small team of staff, Board of Directors, and several amazing volunteers and interns. And we consider ourselves very lucky that Kersey Marion has committed so much time and energy to make our work possible! Kersey has helped out in several programs and continues to find new ways to lend a hand and stay connected to our work, whether she’s digging in our Learning Garden or organizing the Earth Day Parade. She has a positive attitude, unwavering enthusiasm, and a leadership presence that is both inspiring and appreciated here at TEC. Kersey creates space each week to check in with our team to see what can be done to make an impact around here. Right now, she is providing marketing support around our Energy Challenge program while Lindsey is on maternity leave. What a difference this makes!

We’re so impressed with Kersey’s participation in our local community – in addition to her role at Commute Options, she also serves on the Board of Oregon Green Schools and supports several other local organizations and events. We are very grateful to see Kersey not only involved in our mission, but as a deeply engaged community member who is making Central Oregon a better place to live, work, and play.

Thank you so much for all you do, Kersey! 

In her words…

Kersey and her pup, Glory.

The Environmental Center is where community and advocacy meet in beautiful harmony. It’s a place to learn about our living environment and how we can better support it. It brings people together to explore in the dirt and clean up our trash. Most of all, I volunteer with The Environmental Center because of the supportive and passionate staff. Being of service is a value I hold high and the people at TEC allow me to embrace that while making sure that I’m learning along the way. What they do for our community has endless importance and I am always happy to make their jobs a little easier.

Currently, I am the Walking School Bus and Volunteer Coordinator for Commute Options. The program provides a service to students in the Central Oregon region who have culture and infrastructure barriers, making it difficult for them to have access to walking to school. The Walking School Bus program employs adults to lead groups of students to and from school on planned routes. As the Volunteer Coordinator, I have the opportunity to work with community members who want to lend a hand.

If you were to share a lecture on one topic you’re passionate about, what would you discuss?

I would share the importance of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion trainings for our community, both for our work and personal environments. No matter where you live, there are people from different socioeconomic classes, races, ethnicities, genders, and sexual orientations, to name a few. We need to do the work in order to gain the necessary skills to know that we are inviting everyone and implementing inclusive practices every day.

Where would you most like to go in the world that you haven’t visited yet?

My next travel adventure will hopefully be to Italy with my mom. She has lived in Florida her entire life and has always wanted to wander around the art museums and eat all of the delicious food in Italy. It would be such a privilege to be the one who accompanies her to her favorite place that she’s never been to.

What’s your favorite sustainable practice at home?

Composting! Turning our food scraps, yard clippings and cardboard boxes into nutrient filled soil for our garden is a blast. We have our own science experiment growing in our yard. For me, it’s a way to reconnect to the Earth and contribute to our food system. 

Learn more about why less matters.

Explore how the stuff we buy, use and get rid of everyday, is impacting our world. From furniture to food, our purchasing decisions and behaviors are where we have the most impact, both positively and negatively. We all know the 3 R’s: Reduce Reuse and Recycle, but while most people focus on the 3rd R, – Recycling – it’s Reduce that is the most important. Join staff from The Environmental Center’s Rethink Waste Project to learn more about why stuff matters, globally and here in Deschutes County, and leave with hands on tips to do something about it.

There are three events this series:

  • February 7 @ 6:00 pm – East Bend Library
  • February 8 @ 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm – Sunriver Library
  • February 20 @ 12:00 pm – 12:55 PM – Sisters Library

Denise Rowcroft and Ani Kasch are Sustainability Educators with The Environmental Center, a local non-profit organization working to embed sustainability into daily life in Central Oregon. Denise has managed their Rethink Waste Project and Learning Garden since 2011, and enjoys creatively repurposing leftover and found materials. Ani has been coordinating our LED light bulb installations since 2016 and this past spring kicked off our community Rethink Food Waste Challenge. She is an avid bike commuter and loves cooking meals only with things found in her kitchen.

Mountainfilm on Tour to Arrive in Bend

WHAT: Two nights of culturally rich, adventure-packed and inspiring documentary films curated from the Mountainfilm festival held every year in Telluride, Colorado. The tour will soon visit Bend at the Tower Theatre on February 22-23 with films that explore themes connected to Mountainfilm’s mission: using the power of film, art, and ideas to inspire audiences to create a better world. Each night will feature different films!  

Proceeds from the event will benefit The Environmental Center, a local non-profit organization that works to embed sustainability into daily life in Central Oregon. The Environmental Center helps people live, work, play and learn in ways that will ensure a healthy future for people and the planet.

“Mountanfilm always reminds me why I love being outside,” said Mike Riley, Executive Director of The Environmental Center. “The mix of films about adventure, culture, and environmental issues is a great fit for Central Oregon. We’re thrilled to bring it back for the 16th year.”

The event includes a raffle sponsored by Mountain Supply, Crow’s Feet Commons, Cubicle, and Tumalo Creek Kayak & Canoe, with prizes that include backcountry ski packages and surf packages. Raffle tickets will be sold in advance online, and each night at the event.

This event is presented by The Gear Fix. Other event sponsors include: Hydro Flask, Lonza Pharma & Biotech, Spork, Area Rug Connection, Bend Craftsmen Company, Blaise Cacciola Architect, Central Oregon Radiology Associates, Dream Home Building and Design, Skjersaa Group, 92/9FM, The Source Weekly, and Wall Street Suites.

WHEN: Friday, February 22nd and Saturday, February 23rd at 7:00 p.m.  Doors open at 6:00 p.m. Different films each night!

WHERE: Tower Theatre – Downtown Bend

TICKETS: $22 in advance; $40 in advance for both shows; $25 at the door. Tickets are available at the Tower Theatre box office or online at You can also purchase raffle tickets online before the event. Get your tickets early — this event always sells out!

FOR MORE INFORMATION:  Call (541) 385-6908 x 18 or email Lauren.

The Cow Creek Umpqua Indian Foundation awards The Environmental Center funds to support school gardens

The Environmental Center was awarded a one-year grant in the amount of $5,000 to fund a FoodCorps Service Member and to support the Central Oregon Garden Educators Network.

The Environmental Center is committed to increasing garden-based learning opportunities for schools across Central Oregon. Garden activities and education provide a wide range of positive benefits for kids, communities and the environment. Research indicates that integrating garden-based learning into the school environment generates a variety of positive outcomes for students – including physical, intellectual, psychological and more.

The Environmental Center has operated a learning garden for nine years at their facility on Kansas Ave in Bend. In 2017, we took our experience gardening with youth and expanded it to create a “Garden for Every School” initiative in order to support garden education in schools across the region. The Environmental Center now provides classroom and garden lessons with partner schools through a FoodCorps service member; organizes garden educator network events through its role as the regional school garden education hub; provides garden grants and technical assistance to local schools; and supports the school district in school garden development.

The Garden Educator Network, launched in 2016, provides regular opportunities for garden educators to connect through peer-to-peer learning, problem-solving, and resource sharing. In the coming year, these grant funds will provide the community with at least one training and two networking events, including a garden site tour.

The Environmental Center has hosted a FoodCorps service member annually since 2017. These dedicated individuals work with schools with the greatest need (Title 1 schools) to provide intensive support to sustain garden-based learning. Tracy Ryan, the current service member, provides nutrition and garden education services to Three Rivers Elementary School and Bear Creek Elementary School. In the coming year, these grant funds will support this partnership with FoodCorps, allowing Tracy to reach a minimum of 400 students.

“We are grateful to the Cow Creek Umpqua Indian Foundation for the support of our work to expand garden based learning into schools, and to help connect kids to healthy food in school,” said Denise Rowcroft, School Gardens Manager.

Learn more about The Environmental Center’s school garden initiative here.

Grant checks were distributed during a ceremony on January 9, 2019. The Cow Creek Umpqua Indian Foundation awarded a total of $496,550 to 73 organizations across Oregon.

Denise Rowcroft Receives Cooperator Award

Last month, Denise Rowcroft, Sustainability Educator at The Environmental Center, received a Cooperator Award from Oregon State University Extension Association. She was nominated by local extension Nutrition Educators Katie Ahern, Ashley Joyce, and Kaitlin Greene for her work in Deschutes County.

As shared during the presentation, “OSUEA has recognized cooperators for more than 30 years. Each year individuals and businesses are recognized for the significant contributions that have made to extension programs. It is through these cooperators that extension is able to accomplish so much.”

Congratulations, Denise!

Above photo: Denise is pictured with A. Scott Reed, Vice Provost and OSU Extension Service Director; and Wendy Hein, President of OSUEA.

A short excerpt from the awards presentation:

Denise Rowcroft is dedicated to connecting children to the basis of all life – food. She led the transformation of a vacant, weed-infested lot next to The Environmental Center into an outdoor classroom where children tend to the seeds they plant, make discoveries through observations and experiments, apply math and science skills, and get their hands dirty.

The OSU Extension Nutrition Education Program partners with Denise at The Environmental Center Learning Garden in sharing the growing cycle of plants to enjoying the garden bounty through nutrition education and recipe assembly. In partnership with Extension, Denise also created the regional School Garden Educators Network complimenting Extension work in healthy eating promotion at schools. Denise is changing the ways elementary schools are thinking about food, food systems, and learning, one school garden at a time.

Green Spotlight: Tatiana Guerra

“You look busy, how can I help?”

Let’s just say Tatiana Guerra is a super volunteer. And we mean really super.

Tatiana is on the right!

We met Tatiana in the spring of 2017 when her AmeriCorps NCCC team was based at The Environmental Center. Her team, Blue 3, primarily worked on our Energy Challenge program.

“We went around to houses and installed LED light bulbs, water efficient shower heads, and sink aerators in people’s homes,” she said. “Part of our team also stayed in the office to set up the schedule, answer phone calls, and take appointments.”

Blue 3 also helped in other departments – working in the garden each week and helping with outdoor school days, the Earth Day Fair, and a Repair Cafe.

When we received a phone call from Tati about 1.5 years later, we were thrilled to hear that she was moving to Bend! She told us that her time at The Environmental Center gave her a glimpse into life in Central Oregon, and she thought it would be a great place to live, play, and work. Once she decided to make Bend home, it’s no surprise she made her way back to The Environmental Center as a reliable volunteer, dedicated to helping our team in so many ways.

It’s common for Tatiana to reach out and simply ask, “What’s going on? Can I help with anything?” (How amazing is that?) We’re so grateful for her enthusiasm and positive attitude! She is currently supporting the same Energy Challenge program, prepping marketing materials and sending out letters, and assisting with the 2018 Green Tour. She’s also gotten involved in our Rethink Waste Program, preparing Eat First baskets that help people reduce wasted food. We’ve called on Tati to help with last-minute event support, data entry tasks, and more – and she’s been there! All of these actions make a big difference for our organization, and help us to achieve our mission.

Since moving back to Bend, Tati has continued on a service-based career path. She’s working with Commute Options, primarily with the Safe Routes to School program, educating students on bicycle and pedestrian safety. She also works for Bend Park and Recreation District in the Therapeutic Recreation Department. Here, she takes folks hiking, ice skating, cooking, fencing, and more.

If you can’t tell, we appreciate Tatiana’s dependability, upbeat energy, and all the time she’s given to our team. She’s a great advocate for us out in the community, and it’s evident that she is committed to making Central Oregon a better place. Thank you for all you do, Tatiana!

And just for fun, here is a little more about Tati in her own words.

Where can we find you when you’re not working?

When I’m not working you can find me on my bike, skiing in the winter, hiking and canoeing in the summer, enjoying coffee at a local shop, and of course, volunteering at TEC. 🙂

Where would you most like to visit in the world? 

I would LOVE to visit more of Asia…maybe Nepal or Cambodia. I visited India and China this past year and fell in love.

How do you practice sustainability in daily life? 

My favorite (and easy to remember!) sustainable practice is turning the heat off when not home, and turning all the lights off. Many folks forget that money and energy can be saved by simply flipping a switch.

2018 Sustainability Award Winners Recognized

The 2018 Sustainability Awards were announced by The Environmental Center on November 15th at a celebration at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Central Oregon. The Environmental Center received 13 nominations and the winners were selected by a community review committee.

“Sustainability is a big, complex topic,” said Mike Riley, Executive Director. “Achieving it requires patience and perseverance in the face of often daunting obstacles. Our Sustainability Awards celebrate the citizens, businesses, and organizations in our community that are dedicated to overcoming these challenges and making sustainability real in Central Oregon.”

The Environmental Center presented six awards:

  • Local Food Catalyst – Nicolle Timm-Branch and Central Oregon Locavore
  • Local Food Innovator – Volcano Veggies
  • Business – Wanderlust Tours
  • Creative Re-Cycling – Bend Velo
  • Organization – Bend Science Station
  • Exemplar – Bethlehem Inn

A 13-member committee reviewed the nominations and selected the final winners. The committee members were: Allen Engle, Environmental Center Board; Becca Gilbert, Environmental Center staff; Cassie Lacy, City of Bend; Don O’Brien, Environmental Center Board; Indigo Teiwes, Hydro Flask; Jennifer Letz, Environmental Center Board; Karen Kassy, former Sustainability Awards winner; Kendra Hamerly, GreenSavers; Lauren Williams, Environmental Center staff; Mike Riley, Environmental Center staff; Serena Dietrich, Deschutes Brewery; Tom Elliott, Environmental Center Board; and Tom Rowley, Business Oregon. This year’s awards were designed and created by local artist Pete Servine of NW Modern Design.

The nominees were scored on the basis of their leadership, innovation, and operating practices with regards to sustainability, as well as their community involvement and promotion of social equity.

The 2018 Sustainability Awards are sponsored by Worthy Brewing.

Tickets available for the 2018 Sustainability Awards

A limited number of tickets are now available for the 2018 Sustainability Awards on November 15, 2018. Early registration is encouraged as space is limited and this event will sell out. Tickets are $20 per person and can be purchased online here.

What:    The 2018 Sustainability Awards, an Environmental Center event that honors Central Oregon’s sustainability leaders and innovators

When:   November 15, 2018 from 5:00 -7:00 p.m.

Where:  The Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Central Oregon (61980 Skyline Ranch Rd, Bend, OR 97702)

Awards will be presented to a business, organization, and individual who are leading the way to a sustainable future. Special awards may also be given away. By showcasing local commitment to a healthy environment, vibrant economy, and an equitable society, this event will inspire even more sustainable action in Central Oregon.

 The 2018 nominees are:

  • 4 Peaks Music Festival
  • Bend Science Station
  • Bend Velo
  • Bethlehem Inn
  • Central Oregon Intergovernmental Council/Cascades East Transit
  • Central Oregon LandWatch
  • Central Oregon Locavore
  • Levi’s Sawmill
  • Nicolle Timm-Branch
  • SeQuential
  • Un-Bag Bend
  • Volcano Veggies
  • Wanderlust Tours

For more information, visit our webpage. The 2018 Sustainability Awards are sponsored by Worthy Brewing.

Help to Write Bend’s Climate Legacy

There was recently a really interesting and visually compelling story featured in The Washington Post.

Imagine an arctic lake in the Western Brooks Range that hisses and bubbles as it releases hard-hitting methane gas into our atmosphere. Now consider this same lake bed ALSO contains craters that show signs of unleashing ancient fossil fuels from a reserve that had once been sealed. And if this weird hybrid of what’s happening at Esieh Lake is happening across the top of the world, this could be a big blow to our climate system.

Strange stories like this one are becoming more and more prevalent across the globe, driving home the fact that our climate is changing dramatically (and quickly) due to human activities. But you don’t have to travel to the Arctic to feel the destructive consequences of climate change. We just experienced the fifth-driest summer in Bend’s history, impacting local irrigation and farming, wildfire behavior, and more.

Right now, we have the chance to take local climate action that will make a difference here at home, while contributing to a global purpose. Our climate legacy is being written at this very moment, as the City of Bend works to implement the Climate Action Resolution that was adopted in 2016. We now need our community’s support to complete Bend’s climate action plan – the first such plan in Oregon east of the Cascades. Please show your commitment to this effort, which will produce tangible, practical strategies for Bend to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Your dollars will help Bend step up to the challenge of leaving a healthy climate for future generations.

Donate today and help us reach the $10,000 goal. Learn more and show your support here.

Water Cycle Education Program Highlights

The Environmental Center and the City of Bend are expanding our Water Cycle Education Program to include a pilot full-day field trip around Tumalo Falls. Our goal is to deepen students’ sense of watershed stewardship and boost their awareness through visiting utility facilities, interactive games, exploring models, and discussions with local water conservation professionals, hydrologists, chemists and water operations staff.

Last week, City staff guided students in their investigation of the Bend Municipal Watershed, watershed models at Tumalo Falls, and water testing at the Water Filtration Facility. The Environmental Center staff lead students in analyzing stormwater pollution models and a water cycle games at Skyliner Lodge.

Together over two days, we educated 300 6th grade students from Cascade Middle School about their watershed. The Water Cycle Education Program is ongoing and includes two field trips and four in-class lessons. During the 2018-2019 school year, we will continue to reach more middle school and elementary students in Bend!

Photo highlights thanks to photographer and Environmental Center intern, Grant Stein.