Willamette Valley Educational Offerings Complement Online Learning

By Annelise Kelly

As summer comes to a close, most Oregon students face a school year in which remote learning will play a role. Online learning keeps students, teachers, and staff safe from COVID-19, but it puts additional pressure on parents. So to help ease some of that pressure, here are some Willamette Valley educational resources to supplement online learning.

Willamette Valley Public Libraries

Public libraries are treasured institutions in small towns and big cities alike. Many are closed for public health reasons, and have redirected their creative energies into online programming. 

The Albany Public Library (pictured below) offers story time for younger children; check the library’s website for live Zoom Family Storytime, Toddler Storytime and Saturday Storytime, with games, movement and singing. Dozens of previous story times are archived on the website to play on your own schedule. The library has also transformed its Read to the Dogs program into a virtual experience: Kids can register to read to an attentive canine for 15 minutes.

The Salem Public Library offers Storytime at Home in both English and Spanish, as well a writing group and a book discussion group for teens. Watch the Salem Public Library’s Facebook page for more about additional events. 

And the Eugene Public Library provides a variety of online education and entertainment for all ages. Offerings include online storytimesthemed escape roomspersonalized reading recommendations, book groups, and homeschooling resources. For local families, a library card offers additional treasures: free ebooks and audiobooksstreaming movies and shows (including PBS Kids), live tutoring services, and more.

Contact your local library to explore their programs and resources. Want to access resources from another library? Check out the Oregon Library Passport Program, a partnership program among state libraries.

Willamette Valley Cultural Resources

The Eugene Science Center’s website is sure to engage the budding young scientist. The Eugene Science Center’s YouTube channel has 18 videos for a range of ages, covering topics from surface tension to a Van de Graaff generator to getting acquainted with a bearded dragon. How-to videos explain making slime and a DIY lava lamp. The website also links to Science, Technology, Education and Math (STEM) sites like NASA, NIH, 4-H, and other museums. The planetarium is now open weekdays with limited seating, advance tickets only. 

The Chintimini Wildlife Center, just outside Corvallis, houses a wildlife rehabilitation clinic, a raptor conservation program, and a youth education program.

Currently, the center is open by reservation for small, guided group tours, to view the facility, and meet its “ambassadors” (resident birds of prey who are not eligible for release due to injuries). Also available are “Wild Encounters” for groups of four or fewer; these offer guests closer prolonged access to a raptor of their choice.

Willamette Valley Art Resources

The Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art offers teacher guides for permanent and past special exhibitions. The teacher guides are fairly academic, in-depth explorations of exhibits ranging from outsider art to contemporary still-life to specific artists. 

The guides focus on specific pieces in the exhibits, including images and suggested topics for discussion, and give broader context to the cultures surrounding the works. The museum has also shared outreach kits that include artifacts, reproductions representing the museum’s collection, and resources for teachers. Educators can borrow full kits at no charge for up to three weeks.