A rainy and cold wintery day—including sleet, hail and snow—couldn’t stop those attending the Forestry and Natural Resources Outreach Center Open House and Dedication at the Hopkins Demonstration Forest in Beavercreek last Sunday. More than 75 braved the December-like weather to be there for the formal opening of the new 2,400 square foot Center.

“It was great to see the crowd and the enthusiasm,” said Ken Everett, Colton, the Executive Director of Forests Forever, Inc. (FFI)—the non-profit who owns and manages the Hopkins Forest located five miles southeast of Oregon City. The Forest was established more than 30 years ago as a model for sustainable and actively managed forestland in the northwest. Thousands of youth, adults, and the public come to Hopkins every year to learn, do service projects, and enjoy the property.

Attending the Outreach Center Open House were FFI Board members, volunteers who helped construct the new building, and many of the financial donors for the project.

The Center’s Dedication shared the story of the building and its vison including the background of the two men who designed the structure. Mark Schmidt, Molalla, well-known local builder, developed the initial design for the building, but died suddenly in 2017 when the project was only in the very early stages of development. Daryl Sieker, an architect in West Linn, took over the project, worked with Mark’s design concepts, refined his work, and did all of the engineering specifications needed for permitting. The Outreach Center was Daryl’s last project before losing his battle with cancer in 2021. Mark’s wife, Diana, and Daryl’s wife Cherie, we both present for the Dedication.

“We were blessed to have both Mark and Daryl involved in this project,” said Everett. “They both loved working with wood in their craftsman-style designs, the beauty of our northwest forests, and the sustainability of natural wood products. The Outreach Center is a tribute to their work. I’m really glad we could make this project happen.”

Mike Bondi, Lake Oswego, the co-founder of Forests Forever along with Everett, has been the Fundraiser for the $500,000 project. He thanked the more than 50 private individuals, businesses and organizations who have already contributed to the project. The largest donation came from RSG Forest Products, based in Kalama, WA with a mill in Molalla. Rob Sanders, RSG President, donated a major gift to the project in 2021 and was the impetus to the FFI Board of Directors to launch the project and believe they could raise the needed monies to self-fund the building.

“Rob’s gift was absolutely huge,” Bondi said. “Rob has been a wonderful supporter to Forests Forever for the past 20 years.” Other forest product companies have joined the fundraising effort, too, including Hampton Lumber, Weyerhaeuser, Port Blakely, Freres Lumber, Pacific Fibre, and Starker Forests. Woodland owners have been key contributors, as well, including the Garvin Family in Milwuakie, who honored their family’s patriarch, Walt, with a special naming in the building.

Bondi reported that fundraising is now about 90% to its goal. “We are pushing on and hope to reach our goal in the next several months now that the Outreach Center is ready to occupy. We still have to complete landscaping for the building and will be adding a stone patio area and carport—plus a few other final touches.”

Forests Forever recently published their Annual Report for 2022 and it is available at the website: www.demonstrationforest.org. The website also features a series of pages about the Center, its progress, and the current list of donors—plus contact information.

Forests Forever, Inc. Board Member, Mike Bondi, recognizing attendees at the Outreach Center Dedication. Next to Bondi are Ken Everett, FFI’s Executive Director, and Clackamas County Commissioner Martha Schrader. Commissioner Schrader was on-hand to congratulate the Board, volunteers and donors for their important contributions to the community with the addition of the Center at the Hopkins Demonstration Forest. Photo credit: Pam Hayden.

A small portion of the crowd packed into the Outreach Center on a cold and wet Sunday, April 2 for the Outreach Center’s Dedication. From left are Tyson Losli, Timberland Manager for Port Blakely in Clackamas County; Walt Garvin (wife, Pat, seated in front of him); Kyleigh Gill, Weyerhaeuser PR and Communications Director; Mary Castle, Weyerhaeuser Forest Engineer in Clackamas County; at far right, seated is Cherie Sieker, whose husband Daryl was the architect who prepared all of the final design and engineering work on the project. Photo credit: Pam Hayden.