2023 Partners in Conservation Grants Awarded

East Multnomah Soil and Water Conservation District awarded 2023 Partners in Conservation (PIC) grants totaling $1,050,000 in new funding. The funds are awarded to 24 nonprofits, schools and local governments for fish and wildlife habitat enhancements, urban agriculture, community garden and conservation education projects in the EMSWCD service area (all of Multnomah County east of the Willamette River). Please see the list of the PIC 2023 grantees below.

7 Waters Canoe Family, $28,800
7 Waters Canoe Family Restoration

This 7 Waters Canoe Family project will help fund ongoing efforts to simultaneously uplift and revitalize the traditional canoeing practices of Indigenous people while also the aligning with work in the 7 Waters Food Sovereignty Project. The 7 Waters Food Sovereignty Project includes a range of activities and programs ranging from growing food at a Sauvie Island farm, teaching workshops about food preservation, and delivery of food boxes. The project will also support opportunities for indigenous community members to access traditional foods and medicines, taking care to include ongoing restoration of the land and water visited or harvested from.

Black Food Sovereignty Coalition, $29,999
Collective Roots

Collective Roots is a multifaceted project, managed and maintained by a dedicated Community Health Worker (CHW). This Project will consist of classes, training, and events – all open to the public – that take place on farms and gardens within EMSWCD’s district. In the classes and training, the participants will learn about sustainable farming practices; healthy, culturally-relevant meals; and how to implement and maintain gardens in their homes and communities. Community events will reflect the training curriculum and meals made from the organic, culturally-relevant crops grown will be distributed. All of these educational sessions and events will be carried out under the framework of Equitable Food-Oriented Development, a site specific, food-based, equitable and community-led development model.

Confluence, $49,436
Collaborative Conservation and Stewardship at the Sandy River Delta

Funding will support habitat enhancement across 34+ acres of riparian forest, community engagement, and collaborative partnership building at the Sandy River Delta. On the ground stewardship and conservation work will focus on the Confluence Bird Blind and Toby’s Woods, an adjacent forest area. Habitat enhancement and stewardship will take place in a way consistent with thousands of years of Traditional Ecological Knowledge. Nine community events will focus on planting native trees and shrubs, weed control to help with plant establishment, and erosion control through trail work. Additionally, the grant will support two educational field trips. Partners include Lower Columbia Estuary Partnership, Wisdom of the Elders, Trailkeepers of Oregon, and the US Forest Service.

Ecotrust, $36,069
Restoration Through Storytelling: A Land Stewardship Storytelling Series of East Multnomah County

The Cultural Land Stewardship Storytelling Series is designed to elevate Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) ancestral agricultural wisdom, restore and preserve cultural traditions, and address the lack of culturally-specific educational opportunities for aspiring BIPOC land stewards through on-land gatherings at five sites in East Multnomah County. This collaborative effort aims to uplift storytelling as a meaningful knowledge system for conservation efforts in East Multnomah County and builds on a previously funded grant for the Viviane Barnett Fellowship.

ELSO Inc., $69,415
Youth Climate Justice Education Pilot

The Youth Climate Justice Education project will engage the Prescott Elementary community and ELSO’s Black and Brown youth leaders and Interns to build culturally responsive educational solutions that promote climate justice education, environmental health, and community resilience. Intentional project development will begin with deep community relationship building and gathering feedback to drive each phase of the project. The creation of mobile learning carts will assist teachers in bringing their student’s learning outdoors, design and installation of new infrastructure for outdoor learning at Prescott, and grade specific lesson plans that are linked to new infrastructure and promote climate justice education as well as mindfulness, wellness and culturally responsive teaching practices.

Friends of Trees, $67,134
Greening Gresham with Youth Leaders

Friends of Trees will deliver three community tree planting events in Gresham, creating impactful volunteer experiences that combat climate change while building community. Friends of Trees recruits and trains the volunteers, conducts outreach to place street and yard trees, provides all the tools and on-site tree planting training; and engages youth as Crew Leaders through a partnership with POIC+RAHS. In total nearly 1,000 trees will be planted together with the community in Gresham neighborhoods. Tree care will be performed by trained volunteers inspecting the planted trees and providing tree care information for recipients.

Friends of Zenger Farm, $56,783
Zenger Farm

Friends of Zenger Farm seeks to increase the number and diversity of farmers by training the next generation and providing programs for youth and family building pathways for future BIPOC and/or, women and nonbinary and low-income farmers from the Portland area. Across programs, the curriculum provides a comprehensive, culturally responsive, climate action focused learning environment for eight beginning farmers, 700 David Douglas 5th graders, more than 100 2-3rd graders in after-school programming, and 1,400 Open Farm Day participants.

Grow Portland, $41,000
Deepening Environmental Educational partnership with David Douglas Schools

Grow Portland will sustain and deepen programming at five David Douglas elementary schools. Garden Educators teach standard-aligned STEAM concepts to all students through experiential lessons and outdoor exploration as students grow food right outside the school doors. They will uphold their current flagship program, part of the fabric of daily school life, while expanding to include additional pre-K and afterschool classes, as requested by partner schools. Because of our daily programs and deep family involvement, these gardens are thriving hubs within school communities, providing opportunities for growth, nourishment, and collaboration. They nurture the gardens to be models of sustainable agriculture, complex ecosystems of local flora and fauna and green gathering spaces for school communities.

Growing Gardens, $48,981
Equitable Sustainable Agriculture Project

This project will support the Home Gardens program to provide 350 families with three years of gardening education in backyards, at affordable housing sites, and in partnership with health clinics. The goal is to build family health and food security through regenerative urban agriculture in low-income communities. Regenerative gardening has positive impacts on both environmental and human health, protecting ecosystems, improving soil health, and managing water conservation while offering profound opportunities for communities to steward urban land and center community self-reliance.

Human Access Project, $33,428
Ross Island Lagoon Harmful Algae Bloom

A Harmful Algal Bloom in Ross Island Lagoon on the Willamette River near Portland threatens environmental and human health. Since 2018, HAP has partnered with Oregon State University to identify potential solutions. Efforts to be funded under a PIC grant involve analysis of a gated channel for flushing the lagoon. This is a solution viewed as a long-term, low-energy approach but one that requires more complex modeling and design. Specific tasks include simulations of different channel dimensions and location, and their effects on algae biomass, designs for embankment stability, rough cost estimates, and development of a monitoring and evaluation plan. Finally, this project will support public outreach, including meetings with stakeholders, and development of a Lagoon StoryMap.

Ikoi no Kai, $7,500
Koen: Heritage and Harvest

Koen is an educational project on Japanese heritage foods and foodways for a multi-generational and multicultural audience. The purpose of Koen is to create opportunities for community connection as well as education on the culturally rich history of Japanese and Japanese American agriculture in the region. It is giving the elders of the Ikoi no Kai community the opportunity to share their knowledge as well as encouraging younger generations to learn about food cultivation and preparation. The display garden will serve as an educational tool as well as kitchen garden for the Ikoi no Kai Community Lunch program.

Northwest Center for Alternatives to Pesticides, $29,989
Expanding the Environmental Stewards Network for Latinx Landscapers

Northwest Center for Alternatives to Pesticides (NCAP) aims to reduce pesticide pollution to enhance human and aquatic ecosystem health in the Columbia River Basin. NCAP will accomplish this by growing the existing Latinx Landscape Network into the East Multnomah region while addressing the needs and barriers that Spanish-speaking landscape professionals have in reducing pesticide use in their businesses. This network provides vital resources in the Spanish language, including educational workshops, toolkits, and other information. NCAP provides a safe space for learning using nontraditional, popular education techniques and providing benefits to an important community experiencing disparities in health due to working with pesticides. It will also increase landscapers’ environmental literacy and reduce barriers to implementing organic land care techniques.

Northwest Youth Corps, $69,371
NYC Young Women Inclusion Stewardship program

Northwest Youth Corps’ Young Women Inclusion Stewardship program participants will water, daylight, mulch, weed and otherwise care for 21 acres of plants previously installed or stewarded by Friends of Trees in East Portland neighborhoods and natural areas. This work will be conducted by 24 (or more) Portland teens and four women leaders (members of Girls, Inc.) during the summers of 2023 and 2024. After each workday, the crews will return back to their meeting site, where they will engage in education lessons, for which they can earn money and academic credit.

Our Village Gardens, $51,741
Planting Foundations in Community

This project deepens current strategies to increase Our Village Gardens’ organizational capacity to support BIPOC leadership in their growing projects along with the food and economic resilience of low-income residents and BIPOC growers. Priorities include expanding leadership capacity, economic resilience, infrastructure, and networks amplify conservation and community organizing initiatives in Oregon’s largest affordable housing neighborhood, New Columbia.

Outgrowing Hunger, $24,971
East of 205 Community Gardens Support

The East of 205 Community Gardens Support project provides for the operation, maintenance, organic supplies, and educational programming of four independent community gardens serving more than 250 immigrants and refugees in east Multnomah County.

Partum Gardens, $21,000
Postpartum Wellness Garden

This grant will support Partum Gardens programming for wellness and healing in the perinatal and postpartum time. Through weekly community garden workdays and classes, Partum Gardens cultivates a culture of care and resiliency rooted in earth connection, education, and a shared love for the natural world so families can thrive.

Play Grow Learn, $50,000
Agricultural Mentoring Program 2023

Play Grow Learn provides environmental education and stewardship programming at Nadaka Park including paid youth landscaping, conservation, and restoration internships to support workforce development; organizing partner-led environmental and agricultural internships; operation of a farmers’ market and logistics; and outreach and engagement of low-income and communities of color to develop more self-sufficiency through agricultural skill building. This year, Play Grow Learn will strengthen the program by adding five field trips to different nature locations and having a nature education day at the People’s Market.

Portland Audubon, $41,303
Reducing Barriers and Engaging Under-resourced Communities in East Multnomah County

Backyard Habitat Certification Program has a multi-pronged approach to engaging community members in regreening landscapes where they live and gather, such as partnering with culturally-specific groups on on-going, long-term projects. With partner , Verde, the program will enroll and install free raingarden or naturescapes for low-income households in North, Northeast and East Portland neighborhoods. Site visits, site-based guidance and on-going support is provided for people stewarding the land where they live and gather, prioritizing low-income, BIPOC, immigrant and disabled community members. The program will also provide enhanced support to equity-focused community sites for their on-the-ground restoration efforts. Engagement with community liaisons will help incorporate feedback, determine needs and future ideas for new projects.

Portland Opportunities Industrialization Center Inc. (POIC), $69,000
Natural Resource Pathways Program: Student Crew Leadership Training & Green Team

POIC’s Natural Resource Pathways Program supports and offers guidance to low-income students and students of color, helping them play an active role in their community’s environmental health. This is accomplished by developing participants academic and leadership skills focused on natural resource management and restoration, ultimately leading to living-wage careers in the natural resource field. Grant funding supports two main program elements over a two-year period: the Student Crew Leadership Training Program (where participants restore local habitats and receive career-track natural resource mentorship and education) and Green Team, a leadership development initiative that places youth in charge of projects including tree pruning, planned maintenance and plot students for health and mortality surveys.

Thimbleberry Collaborative Farm, $35,000
Thimbleberry Collaborative Farm Field Trips

Thimbleberry Collaborative Farm is partnering with Gresham Barlow and Reynolds school districts to provide educational, farm-based field trips to students in grades K-12. Grant funding will support field trip programs for the 2023/2024 school year. During these field trips, participants learn about how to grow and cook fresh food and engage in discussions about complex food systems issues like the pollution caused by industrial farming practices. Thimbleberry’s programs are tailored to the participants’ grade level and are intended to supplement and enhance classroom curriculum using experiential farm-based learning.

Verde, $70,000
Verde’s Urban Habitat Program 2023

Through their Urban Habitat Program, Verde works with partners Backyard Habitat and Reynolds Learning Academy to teach low-income renters and homeowners about watershed health and install naturescapes on their properties. In a partnership with Hacienda CDC, Verde also offers after-school environmental education for low-income elementary- and middle-school youth and improves the existing naturescapes that have been previously installed on site. With grant funding, Verde plans to install 24 new naturescapes in North, Northeast and Southeast Portland with improved irrigation and stormwater features, and further develop our maintenance follow-up program for 16 existing naturescapes.

Voz Workers Rights Education Project, $30,000
Voz Worker Center

Voz’s Worker Center provides workforce development training on natural landscaping, invasive plants, habitat restorations, bioswales, rain gardens, gardening, and planting in partnership with East Multnomah Soil & Water Conservation District, OSU Master Gardeners, Nadaka Nature Park and Portland Parks & Recreation. Workers have the opportunity to develop their skills through conversation, presentations, and hands-on experience. Voz will also host various educational sessions for workers to learn about the impacts of climate change in their environment and community. Voz programs also include skills certification, marketing skilled workers to employers, and increasing earnings through a wage scale that leverages higher wages for skilled day laborers and domestic workers.

Wisdom of the Elders Inc., $69,080
Wisdom Workforce Development: Traditional Ecological Knowledge Environmental Internship

Wisdom Workforce Development offers paid internship education, job skills, and job search training in the environmental and conservation sector. The curriculum focuses on Indigenous Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) through hands on and virtual classes. Wisdom provides hands-on experience with Portland Metro partner organizations, cultural practitioners, and environmental scientists. Classes are held at various locations throughout the region and online. Topics include TEK and STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) concepts, Indigenous cultural arts, identification and uses of plants, habitat restoration and conservation, biocultural restoration, environmental career pathways and personal stories.

World Salmon Council, $20,000
Salmon Watch

Salmon Watch provides students the opportunity to experience salmon in local streams. Students participate in science-based field stations and learn about salmon biology, macroinvertebrate identification, water quality testing, and the riparian zone. Salmon Watch works to remove barriers by annually providing classrooms the opportunity to participate in their field trips at no cost. Salmon Watch participants also complete a field-based service-learning project, applying learning from the program, and building connections to the world around them. The program helps address the nature deficit experienced by many youth and instills a deeper appreciation of nature, watershed conservation, and environmental stewardship.