The Oak Harbor Garry Oak Society aims to educate the community about the Garry oak tree. We maintain the Garry Oak & Native Plant Interpretive Garden at the Oak Harbor Post Office so that the public can enjoy and learn to identify many species of local plants, including the Garry Oak. Our members have worked with the Oak Harbor Parks Board to assist in the development of interpretive signs at Smith Park for educating the public about the venerable old park. We have also work with local schools to educate students about the Garry oak through oak planting events.

OHHS Senior Student Scholarship

OHGOS is proud to announce our first ever scholarship will be in the amount of $500.00, awarded to OHHS senior and OHGOS member Autumn Coker. Way to go, Autumn! Autumn will soon be on her way to WSU, where we know she will excel.

Scholarship Amount:  $200 – $500. The amount will be determined by vote of the board and will be based on the level that recipient meets or exceed the minimum criteria as well as OHGOS’ financial position at the time of voting.

Scholarship Criteria:  Senior; 3.0+ GPA; Must be a member of OHGOS in good standing for a minimum of 1 year prior to scholarship; Must have attended 6 monthly OHGOS general meetings;  Must have volunteered 12 hours towards OHGOS activities or other Garry oak tree supporting activities on Whidbey Island with other conservation groups or organizations such as the City of Oak Harbor, School District, Navy, etc.  A minimum of 6 of the required volunteer hours must be toward OHGOS activities.

Garry Oak Ecosystem & Native Plant Interpretive Garden

The Oak Harbor Garry Oak Society committed in late 2016 to preserve and enhance the landscaping and educational elements of the Garry Oak Interpretive Garden which is located adjacent to the Oak Harbor Post Office. Planted by Melissa Duffy and members of Harbor Pride in the 90’s when the largest Garry oak in town towered over the Post Office, in recent years the grand old oak was lost and the garden languished.

Society volunteers began by weeding and mulching the garden, creating a clear path forward. With generous community support, additional native plants were added. It’s amazing how many native plant species you can enjoy in this pocket park! Native plant identification signs were installed in the garden in late 2017, and by late 2019 interpretive signs will also be installed. Spring is a great time to visit the garden when the wildflowers are in bloom, but there’s always something neat to look at anytime of year. If you would like to volunteer to work in the garden or have native plants to donate, please get in touch with us!

Special thanks to the Pacific Rim Institute for generously donating new native plants for the garden, Pioneer Tree Service for donating bark mulch to help keep the weeds down, and private individuals who donated additional native plants. This has been a community effort and we appreciate everyone who has given their time and resources to make this garden shine once again!

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Garry Oak Planting and Education for Oak Harbor Students

Our children are the future. We are working to have Garry oaks included in school curriculums to educate future generations about our living heritage. So far we have been invited in a number of classrooms to teach about Garry oaks, and to plant either trees on the campus or acorns in pots to take home. We have also helped to bring partners together to facilitate educational field trips to Smith Park, Oak Harbor’s Garry oak arboretum park and living classroom. To lay the foundation for official oak curriculum adoption in the future, we have donated Garry oak age-appropriate books and lesson plans for every Oak Harbor school library.

If you are an educator and would like us to visit your classroom or looking for ideas on how to incorporate Garry oaks into your curriculum, please get in touch!

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Garry Oak Books and Educational Resources for Schools

In collaboration with school librarians, books were selected and donated for students K-12 to enhance literacy and learning about oaks in general and focusing on Garry oak conservation. They give students ideas on how they can help our native oaks and inspire care for our shared environment. We supplied each school in Oak Harbor with two copies of each book, one for general library checkout and one professional copy to be available for teachers. Each school was also provided with one copy of the Garry Oak Educator’s Guide. Schools selected to receive the books are the six elementary schools, including the two private elementary schools, the Intermediary School, Middle School, and High School.

We were also able to fund quality wood specimen boxes with clear lids and divided sections in order to provide each school with a collection of Garry oak specimens. Examples of specimens provided are Garry oak acorns and caps, leaves, stems, mosses and lichens, small cross sections of wood, etc. These boxes introduce real-life oak tree and ecosystem elements to the lesson to help bring the learning to life for the students.

A huge thank you to Island Thrift for contributing funding for this project!

Community Essay Contest

As part of our 2016 Arbor Day celebration and in collaboration with the Whidbey News Times, the Oak Harbor Garry Oak Society held a Garry oak essay contest. Participants were encouraged to write about their favorite Garry oak tree and why they would like to plant a tree. Each of the five winners received a ten year old Garry oak sapling that have all been planted on Whidbey Island. Thank you to everyone who participated and shared their passion for the Garry oak, we loved reading your submissions!

Read Essay Contest Submissions