On the Beat: Museum awards program recognizes Philomath’s inclusivity resolution

The city’s inclusivity resolution that was passed last summer is bringing some attention to Philomath through the University of Oregon’s Museum of Natural and Cultural History.

The museum recently announced winners of its annual Oregon Stewardship Award. The Philomath resolution was a finalist for one of two awards presented.

Launched in 2018 by the museum’s advisory council, the $1,000 award recognizes an individual or organization for involving the community in an environmental or cultural heritage project, one that aligns with the museum’s mission to inspire stewardship of the region’s collective past, present and future.

“We saw dozens of nominations this year, each one a testament to how deeply Oregonians care about our ecosystems and cultures,” said Ann Craig, public programs director at the museum. “We are delighted to be able to recognize two outstanding winners this year.”

Robert Kentta
Robert Kentta of the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians gave a presentation in October at Philomath City Hall as part of a series of educational programs that had been arranged through the efforts of the city’s Inclusivity Committee. (Fiile photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

“The Immigrant Story” was one of those winners, a project that documented and shared experiences of people arriving in Oregon as immigrants. The other winner was Oregon State University’s OregonFlora, a comprehensive resource for learning about the nearly 5,000 species of trees, grasses, ferns and wildflowers present in this ecologically diverse state.

The competitive award program also named four finalists this year: An Indian education program from the Eugene School District, the work of Portland State University archaeologist Virginia Butler for coordinating the Archaeology Roadshow, the Friends of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge for its Bird Scouts youth program and the city of Philomath for its inclusivity resolution, a project focused on learning about race and addressing racism in state and local history.

A display on the Oregon Stewardship Award not only features those two winners but also recognizes the other finalists. The section on Philomath reads:

“In July 2020, Philomath established an Inclusivity Resolution focused on learning about and reckoning with Oregon’s racial past. The town brought in speakers and educators to discuss Black and Indigenous histories and perspectives.”

Also included on the display is a photo of Robert Kentta talking about a basket during a presentation in October on the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians.

Then-Mayor Eric Niemann said at the time, “Philomath recently passed an inclusivity resolution, refocusing ourselves on learning about different races and cultures with the goal of becoming a more informed and welcoming community.”

Cupola project finished

A month ago, I published a story about the Benton County Historical Society’s Philomath Museum cupola repair project and word has been received that it’s now finished. The fix involved replacing one of the cupola’s original hand-hewn support posts that had deteriorated from water damage.

Those bell tower support posts are 155 years old — just incredible. They were put in place a year after the Civil War ended and Philomath was just getting its start with construction of the college!

Irene Zenev, museum director who will soon be retired, thanks contractor Scott McClure for his work on the project.

Fender’s blue butterfly

Back in May, the News published a feature story about Lupine Meadows from a tour and program that had been presented by Greenbelt Land Trust and included the attendance of city councilors and staff. One of the topics of the program was the endangered Fender’s blue butterfly, a fascinating species that calls Lupine Meadows home.

A few weeks ago, Greenbelt Land Trust in its newsletter shared a link to a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service story that the butterfly is coming back from the brink of extinction. Listed as an endangered species in 2000, only 32 sites of the Fender’s blue butterfly were known to exist. According to the article, the butterfly now inhabits twice the acreage it did when listed as endangered, its range has grown from four counties to six and the number of known occupied sites has quadrupled.

If the good news continues, the butterfly may soon be coming off of the endangered species list.

Miller Timber’s work

The Times-News out of Twin Falls, Idaho, mentioned Miller Timber in a recent story about stewardship projects on Bald Mountain aimed at saving lives, reducing fires and promoting recreation.

The Philomath-based company is involved with reducing forest fire fuels.

“Miller Timber crews have been harvesting and thinning stands of trees in order to reduce fuel loads from catching fire and spreading quickly,” the story written by Jonathan Ingraham reads. “The thinning also allows firefighters quicker access to a fire if one were to ignite. But using machines that harvest and gather wood on the steep slopes is difficult.

“The harvester will fall, limb, and buck trees into logs in the stand. During this process, the harvester creates common-use trails, typically 60 feet apart and pre-marked in straight rows. “The winch-assisted log gatherer, called a forwarder, is tied off at the top of a stand of trees and driven down to the cut logs, where it piles the timber and carries it out to the road for removal.”

Former local pastor’s mission

Bill Seagren, who served for 16 years as the pastor at College United Methodist Church, continues to serve the United World Mission team in Prague, Czech Republic.

Upon his departure from Philomath back in 2017, Seagren told me at the time that he would be an extension minister for the interdenominational organization. He and his wife, Jenny, went through missionary training in North Carolina before heading out for a five-year mission.

Seagren has a website set up to share details of the mission.

(Brad Fuqua is publisher/editor of the Philomath News. He can be reached at [email protected]).

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