Looking Back at 4 years of Bilingual Nature Program

By: Tiffany Mancillas

The Bilingual Nature program focuses on creating public events for communities on a relevant environmental topic in their native language with youth from the communities leading all planning, implementation and follow up communications. Interns are paid $15 per hour and receive professional development training and experiences around the watershed. This year we have had the opportunity to work with Helen Chen and Khan Tung in creating bilingual nature programming at Leach Botanical Garden. The garden saw its first-ever tours in Mandarin and Zomi, reaching new audiences. Both events were well received and had interactive tours.

Zomi Bilingual Nature tour, Sept 25th 2021

Both tours discussed the history behind the garden as well as many modern renovations and their significance. The tours showed people normally locked areas of the garden like the historic cottage and south side of the garden in their communities language. On the tours educational resources are provided regarding free recreational areas to visit in the Johnson Creek Watershed. Khan shared “I am so excited and so keen about this internship because through this internship I can show my young people to turn their heads more into nature and have some knowledge of the environment by teaching them as much as I can. That was exactly what I did in my Zomi-Bilingual Nature Tour Event. I was able to pour all the thoughts that I’ve carried in my head to the Zomi adolescents.” 

Helen also mentioned that “I tried to incorporate these solutions to help bridge the language barrier. In early September, I hosted a tour in Mandarin for people in the community at Leach Botanical Garden. This tour tailored for the Chinese-speaking community was an attempt to connect those who are interested with nature in a language and manner that they may be more comfortable with. The tour explored breathtaking parts of the garden: its newly built tree walk, stone cabin, and many more.”

Learn more behind the scenes and the in depth experiences of Helen’s internship and Khan’s experience with JCWC in 2021. We really appreciate our partners at Leach Botanical Garden and funders Meyer Memorial Trust and East Multnomah Soil and Water Conservation District for making this program possible.

A look at events through the years 2017-2021:


  • Abdulahi created content for a brochure translated into Somali.The event was held at Powell Butte Natural Area, discussing watersheds, wildlife, and plants, and a hands-on planting session. 


  • Rita successfully planned a Spanish and  English seed planting and nature walk at Leach Botanical Garden.
  • Lucero hosted an event in Spanish at Leach Botanical Garden about native plants and some of the many ways plants communicate with each other and with other species.
  • Khan did a partnership with both JCWC and City of Gresham at Powell Butte sharing native species and led a planting for the Zomi speaking community. 


  • Aaron, hosted ¡Abejas, Plantas y Usted!, a pollinator workshop at Leach Botanical Garden in Spanish.


  • Melanie planned and led an event in Russian for the Slavic community to discover animals and creek life at Leach Botanical Garden.
  • Theresa Huang, bilingual Intern, and Jeffrey Lee, Independent bilingual contractor, did incredible work on the project rain garden installation for local community members, unfortunately the final event was cancelled due to the start of COVID-19. Despite this, information has been shared, translated, and a free rain garden installed for a local family in the Chinese community.
  • Martina hosted a virtual live event, El Portal al Boring Campo de Lava, in Spanish with an interactive bingo guide for kids that she made.


  • Khan hosted an event tailored for the Zomi-speaking community at Leach Botanical Garden and all attendees received a tee shirt designed by him to celebrate the event. 
  • Helen hosted an event at Leach Botanical 花园游览 | Leach Botanical Garden Tour for the Mandarin-speaking community. In addition Helen created a blog article regarding intersectionality and inclusion in the environmental field for the JCWC website. 

Hear directly from past interns:

“This opportunity I had to become an intern at the JCWC, has been the best! Being an intern at the JCWC feels so good! From walking through the doors of their old Milwaukie building to now walking through the doors of their new building! All of the staff members make me feel so welcome every time. Time goes by so fast when I’m there. I enjoy every minute I’m working and learning new skills! Honestly, being an intern has to be the highlight of my summer!”- Rita, 2017 

“During my internship at the Johnson Creek Watershed Council, I learned so much about environmental conservation and working directly with a community. Words cannot express my gratitude for having the opportunity to work under the council for the duration of my internship. In my internship, I explored beautiful landscapes and learned about its history, researched environmental stewardship, and hosted my very own event.”- Helen, 2021

“First and foremost, I would like to say thank you to Johnson Creek Watershed Council (JCWC) for giving me another chance to work with them and lead my community ( the Zomi community) into another nature tour event once again. In 2018, I did my first Zomi-Bilingual Nature Tour with Johnson Creek Watershed Council (JCWC) through the City of Gresham where it happened to be my internship in Natural Resources and Stormwater. In that particular event, I explained to my community the differences between native plants and invasive plants along with the Western Red Cedar and Douglas Fir.  And little did I know I would have this remarkable opportunity once again this year.”-Khan, 2021

We give support to partner agencies, and mileage reimbursement for any bus fare or vehicle gas expended at work. The interns spend approximately 100 hours on their event, paid, including staff time to facilitate the internship: it is estimated that the program costs a total of $ 25,000 – 35,000 per year for our organization to fund 4 interns. Unfortunately our funding from this program has come to an end as the grants we were allotted finished. 

We have been able to reach so many new community members with this program and would like to continue it but for now it is on hold due lack of funding. Know of any funders for a program like this? Let us know by emailing us info@jcwc.org

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