By Caitlin Fowlkes for the Mail Tribune, June 21, 2016.
Oregon Business magazine has named The Coyote Trails School of Nature in Medford No. 2 on its list of "100 Best Green Workplaces in Oregon."
This is the second year Coyote Trails has placed, according to Molly Kreuzman, director of the center. More than 15,000 employers responded to the magazine's survey.
"We missed first place by less than a point," said Kreuzman. "We did beat Standing Stone in Ashland. So that was kind of fun. Although I do love Standing Stone."
Coyote Trails is a nonprofit organization that offers day camps and educational programs on areas of nature such as animal tracking, fire cultivation, primitive shelter building, edible and medicinal plant identification and wilderness immersion skills. The center sits in the middle of seven acres of the U.S. Cellular Community Park and overlooks 1,500 feet of Bear Creek.
"To me, winning the award shows people that we're walking the talk," said Kreuzman.
Coyote Trails came close to first for good reason. The center composts, recycles, uses solar power and cloth towels, has two pollinator gardens and a monarch butterfly way station. The way station is an area dedicated to milkweed and pollinator plants to help the monarch population, as well as bees and birds that pollinate the local area.
The center offsets 100 percent of its energy use with its solar power. The center actually produces more solar power than it needs, and the excess power goes back to the grid and benefits local low-income families, according to Kreuzman.
Coyote Trails has reclaimed 5 acres of land surrounding the center, cleared out invasive plant species and replaced them with native plants. The center has 18 bird boxes, four duck boxes and two bat boxes installed by Boy Scouts.
The center offers weekly overnight camps at the Earth Teach Forest Park branch in the Cascade Mountains. An intense program offered to a select few in the school allows for students to live a year in the mountains, mostly off the land. A group of five young women recently participated in the program and filmed a documentary on their experience titled "5 Women; 4 Seasons; 1 Journey. The documentary directed and produced by Kreuzman is expected to be released by the summer of 2017.
A preschool program will begin September 12 for children under 5. Coyote Trails also works with local schools in the area to teach youths about nature.
"We took stewardship of this center for two reasons," said Kreuzman. "One, we thought kids in the area needed a nature center in this end of the valley; and two, we wanted to be a demonstration area of green initiatives for the area."
For more information, contact Coyote Trails at 541-282-8577 or www.coyotetrails.org.