Members of the Triple Nickles parachute into an Oregon forest in May 1945. (Photo by USDA Forest Service)

The University of Oregon’s Museum of Natural and Cultural History recently awarded its annual Oregon Stewardship Award to Heads to Hearts, a project of the Josephy Center for Arts and Culture.

Administered by the museum’s advisory council, the award recognizes a project that has significantly involved its community in an environmental or cultural heritage project, one that aligns with the museum’s mission to inspire stewardship of our collective past, present and future.

Heads to Hearts explores the confluence between Indigenous and scientific understanding of place.

A Philomath project was among the five statewide finalists for the award — “Jumping Into Fire,” a Veterans Day event honoring the 555th Parachute Infantry Battalion known as the “Triple Nickles.” The event commemorated the Pendleton-based Black Army unit dedicated to fighting fires set by enemy bombs in Oregon’s forests during World War II.

It’s the second straight year that a Philomath-based project was named as an award finalist. Last year, recognition went to the annual event that involves the placement of flags on the gravesites of veterans at Mount Union Cemetery.

The other three finalists included the Eugene Lesbian Oral History Project, Friends of Buford Park and Mount Pisgah Native Plant Nursery in Eugene  and the Vanport Mosaic.