What Desert Public Lands
Mean To Me Now

Derek Staab

By any measure, 2020 was a challenging year. Do you cherish your experiences your on public lands even more now? Are you interested in sharing your experiences exploring public lands with friends, colleagues, family, ONDA members and the outdoor recreation community? Can you write a blog post, tell a good story with a few photos and captions, or produce a 1- to 2- minute video?

We may have a perfect volunteer project for you! We want to share stories from individuals, duos or families who got out to explore some places in Oregon’s high desert this summer and who can reflect in some way on what parks and public lands in the high desert meant to you before and what it means now in 2020, in the context of Covid-19, the widespread resistance in the face of systemic racism, and political polarization.

What we’re looking for
  • Creative individuals who can write a blog post, craft a series of Instagram posts or produce a short video (up to two minutes in length) that highlights a wild place in Oregon and your feelings about that place.
  • Anyone is invited to apply. You don’t need to be a member of ONDA, but an interest in desert conservation is a must. We are particularly interested in sharing the perspectives of people who are Black, Indigenous, or People of Color.
  • Stories related to an adventure from before covid-19 struck, or for trips happening during the pandemic, all places visited and recreational activities highlighted must fit within “Recreate Responsibly” guidelines.
What you’ll get
  • A piece of Outdoor Research gear (~$100 value)
  • A MiiR camp cup featuring the ONDA logo (~$30 value)
  • An ONDA bandana (priceless!)

You don’t need to be a professional videographer to apply. ONDA staff will work with you to give shape to your story and to put the final edits and polish on your piece. You will want to get to know your featured location well enough to share its highlights with others, but exhaustive research is not required.

You don’t need to be a professional creative to apply and fancy equipment is not required. Your phone will do the trick! If you want to work on a video, you will need to have enough editing know-how to put together a short piece. You will need to know your featured location well enough to share its highlights with others, but exhaustive research is not required. ONDA staff can work with you to give shape to your story and to put the final edits and polish on your piece.


ONDA will share the creative product you deliver via our website, our YouTube channel and other social media profiles to help people learn about some of the most interesting and beautiful places in Oregon’s high desert. Outdoor Research may choose to feature posts via their blog as well.

This is a chance to explore wild public lands, share their significance and give your Central and Eastern Oregon adventures a deeper purpose!

Interested? Fill out this short questionnaire, or email lace@onda.org.  


Craig Terry, ONDA member and stewardship volunteer

Craig Terry, ONDA member and stewardship volunteer

“The people I have had the privilege to share time with each season keep me volunteering again and again. Who else but those ONDA staff leaders would make fresh coffee at dawn each morning or pack a watermelon all day to serve as a reward under a juniper in a steep canyon?” Craig, who grew up in northwestern Nevada, says ONDA connects him with places he loves and a mission he believes in. “My grandfather and his father put up wire fences for their ranching needs. Taking out barbed wire sort of completes a circle for me.”


What defines Oregon’s high desert?

What defines Oregon’s high desert?

Bounded by the Cascade Mountains to the west and the Blue Mountains to the north, Oregon’s high desert covers approximately 24,000 square miles. Annual rainfall in the high desert varies from 5 to 14 inches. The average elevation is 4,000 feet; at 9,733 feet, the summit of Steens Mountain is the highest point in Oregon’s high desert. The terrain of the high desert was mostly formed by a series of lava flows that occurred between 30 and 10 million years ago.

Sources: The Oregon Encyclopedia; Wikipedia  




The Oregon Swallowtail butterfly is the official state insect of Oregon and a true native of the Pacific Northwest. The Swallowtail can be seen in the lower sagebrush canyons of the Columbia River and its tributaries, including the Snake River drainage area.  Source: State Symbols USA

Latin name: Papilio oregonius

SAMPLE VIDEO: A Trip to the Abert Rim Wilderness Study Area

In the high desert of southeastern Oregon, you'll find millions of acres of wild public lands. Take a trip to Abert Rim in this short video shot and produced by ONDA independent steward Chris Schmokel. We think you'll be inspired to pay this place a visit, and maybe you'll even be inspired to shoot your own short video.

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Is there any place online where we can see a story that you've already told about visiting public lands? (If not, it's fine!)