PORTLAND, Ore. August
3, 2011. This summer, about 400 children from Portland and Vancouver,
Wash., are taking part in the Forests
Inside Out! program to provide
outdoor education opportunities to students from underserved communities.
The program, which runs from August 1 to September 1, is partially
funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
It’s gratifying to see kids who don’t get the opportunity
to explore the outdoors take part in the camps,” says Becky
Bittner, conservation education specialist with the U.S. Forest Service’s
Pacific Northwest (PNW) Research Station, a sponsor of Forests Inside
Out! “I’ve been working in conservation for more than
a decade and what’s really wonderful is that around here you
don’t have to travel far to be in the great outdoors!”
in its third year, the program takes children ages 6 to 10 from
communities in the Portland and Vancouver metropolitan area to
in the city and along the Columbia River Gorge. During the program’s
two-day format, the students explore the World Forestry Center and
Hoyt Arboretum, and then go on ranger-led interpretive hikes in the
Gorge. Participants come from the Boys and Girls Club in Portland
and Hillsboro, Portland- and Vancouver-area community and child development
centers, and Portland’s Schools Uniting Neighborhoods community
Nothing compares to getting students outside,” says Rob Pierce,
education director for 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.”
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.
Forests Inside Out! Is a partnership of the Forest Service and
the World Forestry Center. The program activities are structured
Project Learning Tree, a nationally recognized curriculum aimed
at fostering an understanding of how forests and the environment
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.