Howloween at the Oregon Zoo Offers Perfectly Spooky Stroll

Howloween at the Oregon Zoo Offers Perfectly Spooky Stroll

Portland, OR. For many families, the current pandemic has made trick-or-treating impossible, but that doesn’t mean they can’t get in the Halloween spirit like the ring-tailed lemur pictured above. During the Oregon Zoo‘s annual Howloween festivities, kids can show off their costumes and learn about wildlife in a fun and safe setting. The event takes place on Oct. 24th­–25th and Oct. 29­th–Nov. 1st. Reserved tickets are required.

“Like everything else, Halloween will look a little different this time around, but we’re still going to have a good time,” zoo events manager Nikki Simmons said. “We’ve got fun things planned for both kids and animals.”

A red panda plays with a pumpkin on Howloween.

A scavenger hunt around the zoo teaches kids about wildlife and throughout the day, guests can watch as animals enjoy holiday-themed treats like jack-o’-lanterns stuffed with snacks. Activities are free with zoo admission and treat bags are available for an additional fee of $3 per participant. In keeping with the zoo’s mission, Howloween aims to be educational as well as fun, and all the treats come from companies that are committed to using deforestation-free palm oil. Learn more about palm oil and how consumer choices impact animals around the world.

A river otter and a pumpkin.

To help ensure a safe experience for all, the following measures will be in place during this year’s Howloween:

  • All costumes must include masks that cover the nose and mouth.
  • Howloween participants must purchase pre-filled treat bags that can be collected at the end of their scavenger hunt instead of collecting candy throughout the zoo. Treat bags are $3 each and are available for purchase online.
  • All tickets must be purchased in advance, in timed-entry segments. Because of the capacity restrictions, even infants need to be counted. Infants are free with a paid adult admission but must have a ticket.
  • See other safety measures here.

Items like treat-filled pumpkins are part of the Oregon Zoo’s world-renowned environmental enrichment program, which helps animals stay active and mentally engaged. It was at the Oregon Zoo in the 1980s that the concept of environmental enrichment was established. The first international animal enrichment conference was held at the Oregon Zoo in 1993, producing the book Second Nature, co-edited by former Oregon Zoo deputy conservation manager Dr. David Shepherdson and Dr. Jill Mellen, a member of the zoo’s animal welfare committee.

The Oregon Zoo says “Bring your costumed kids to Howloween for treats and safe fun!”

From the Oregon Zoo website: The mission of the Oregon Zoo Foundation is to foster community pride and involvement in the Oregon Zoo and to secure financial support for the zoo’s conservation, education and animal welfare programs. We work with individual donors, corporations and community organizations that share our dedication to creating a better future for wildlife.

University of Oregon’s Science and Culture Museum Fights Education Inequity

University of Oregon’s Science and Culture Museum Fights Education Inequity

Eugene, OR. The Museum of Natural and Cultural History at the University of Oregon is addressing some emerging concerns over education equity during the pandemic. The museum is distributing culture-focused activity kits, like the one used by a mother and her children above. These hands-on kits don’t require an internet hookup.

Using a $93,000 grant funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services through a CARES Act Grants for Museums and Libraries, the museum is developing and distributing thousands of science and culture-focused activity kits to Lane County students, ages 6 through 12.

Known as Museum Connection Kits – Inspiring Stewardship for our Collective, Past, Present and Future, the project will emphasize service to children who are without internet access while also serving those who receive online instruction but lack opportunities for guided, hands-on learning.

The kits are free of charge and offered in both Spanish and English. They guide students through a variety of experiments, engineering challenges, craft-making, and other hands-on activities they can complete offline.

Read aloud is another program for preschoolers and their caregivers. 

“Oregon’s recent move to online learning carries the risk of exacerbating already persistent inequities in Lane County,” said Ann Craig, public programs director at The Museum of Natural and Cultural History. “This project aims to serve the communities most at risk, particularly low-income, rural and migrant students, and those whose families are navigating houselessness.”

The museum will work with project partners to deliver the kits directly to underserved students, with a particular focus on students who lack internet connectivity. Key partners include the Eugene Public Library, Springfield Public Library, Connected Lane County, Eugene Springfield NAACP, St. Vincent de Paul’s First Place Family Center, and Centro Latino Americano.

Over the summer, the museum piloted the approach with Engineer It!, a take-and-make kit focused on Native American engineering and architectural technologies. More than 3,000 kits were distributed statewide with the help of public libraries.

Mia Jackson, the museum’s educational outreach coordinator, said that “The demand for the program was remarkable, with the help of our library partners, we were able to serve families from Scio to Sutherlin to Stanfield — really, in every corner of the state.”

For the year ahead, the museum will create four new kit themes ranging from environmental science to civil rights to paleontology, each one including a variety of learning activities. Throughout the project, the museum and participating libraries will host a monthly online event that includes a “show and share” gallery where students can display and discuss their completed activities, as well as a live question-and-answer session with a scientist or other expert.

Students without internet access will be invited to exhibit their creations at the museum or one of the partner libraries.

The CARES Act program from the library and museum institute will award a total of $13.8 million in federal funds to U.S. museums and libraries this cycle.

“COVID-19 has not only created a public health emergency, but it has also created a deep need for trusted community information, education, and connection that our libraries and museums are designed to provide,” said Crosby Kemper, director of the Institute of Museum and Library Services. “These institutions are trusted spaces where people can learn, explore, and grow. IMLS is proud to support their initiatives through our grants as they educate and enhance their communities.”

From The Museum of Natural and Cultural History:

The Museum of Natural and Cultural History is a place for making connections—to each other, to our past, and to our future. It’s a place for digging into science, celebrating culture, and joining together to create a just and sustainable world. 

Harper’s Playground Still Going Strong During COVID-19

Harper’s Playground Still Going Strong During COVID-19

Portland, Or. Harper’s Playground is still open and remains a great place for all kids, including those with physical challenges, to play. But this year, the nonprofit has moved its annual benefit online. From October 1st, through October 8th, the organization will hold a virtual auction and raffle while highlighting recent projects and playgrounds. Click here to check out the offerings.

Harper’s Playground is an organization that helps build all-inclusive playgrounds featuring modifications for kids with physical challenges. The nonprofit usually hosts events like a Community Play Day and Rhythm & Play, but both have been postponed until 2021. Despite recent COVID-19 limitations, the organization’s unique playgrounds remain open due to their wide inclusive spaces that support social distancing practices. These parks give children and families new places to explore during COVID-19, unlike some other more crowed play structures.

Volunteers from Harper’s Playground work with the Portland Timbers during the pandemic.

Volunteers at Harper’s Playground are still able to lend a hand during the pandemic as well. The organization recently worked with the Portland Timbers and held a clean-up at the flagship park, Arbor Lodge which is located in North Portland.

Harper’s Playground began in 2009 with a simple walk in the park. Harper, daughter of founders Cody and April Goldberg, wished to play in the neighborhood park but couldn’t reach the structure when her yellow walker stuck in the wood chips. From then on, Cody and April have dedicated themselves to creating inclusive spaces where all children are free to play. The original Harper’s Playground opened in 2012 and founder Cody Goldberg stated that he would “turn Harper’s Playground into a non-profit that would help other communities build playgrounds like the one we had already built.”

The inclusive playground model.

The organization now helps build playgrounds across the globe, from Anna and Abby’s Yard, a park here in forest grove Oregon, to the Tokyo Sports Playground in Japan. This park is to open in partnership with Nike for the upcoming 2021 Olympics. 

From the Harper’s Playground: 

Harper’s Playground inspires vital communities by creating inviting playgrounds for people of all abilities. We envision a more inclusive world, one playground at a time.