Students from Portland, Ore., and Vancouver, Wash., participate in the 2010 "Forests
Inside Out!" program, which provides outdoor education opportunities to
kids from underserved communities." Credit: U.S. Forest Service
PORTLAND, Ore. September 1,
2010. This summer, approximately 350 children from Portland, Ore.,
Wash., took part in “Forests Inside Out!”, a program
that provides outdoor education opportunities to students from
underserved communities. The program, which ran from August 2 through
31, was partially funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment
Nothing compares to getting students outside,” said Rob Pierce,
education director with the World Forestry Center, one of the program’s
sponsors. “And, it’s important to give those who have
never had the opportunity a chance to make that connection.”
in its second year, Forests Inside Out! took children ages 6 to
10 from communities in the Portland and Vancouver metropolitan
area to sites in the city and along the Columbia River Gorge. During
the program’s two-day format, the students explored the World
Forestry Center and Hoyt Arboretum and then went on ranger-led
interpretive hikes to Wahkeena and Latourell Falls. Participants
came from the Boys and Girls Club in Portland and Hillsboro, Portland-
and Vancouver-area community and child development centers, and
Portland’s SUN community schools.
As part of the program,
eight high school students were hired as mentors to work with the
younger participants and help them to
connect with nature during their trips through sketching and journaling.
These student mentors participated in the Inner City Youth Institute
(ICYI) natural resource camp earlier this summer, another outdoor
education program targeting underserved middle and high school
Forests Inside Out! provided a great opportunity for ICYI students
to spread their enthusiasm for the outdoors to a younger audience,” said
Becky Bittner, conservation education specialist with the U.S.
Forest Service’s Pacific Northwest Research Station, sponsor
of both Forests Inside Out! and ICYI. “Our hope is that these
younger kids are inspired to participate in outdoor programs like
ICYI when they get older.”
Forests Inside Out! is a partnership
of the Forest Service, World Forestry Center, and the Inner City
Youth Institute. The program’s
activities are structured around "Project Learning Tree," a
nationally recognized curriculum that is aimed at fostering an
understanding of how forests and the environment work.
The PNW Research Station is headquartered in Portland, Oregon.
It has 11 laboratories and centers located in Alaska, Oregon, and
Washington and about 425 employees.