The Great Gorge Wahoo! is an annual, single-day field trip for seventh- and eighth-grade students from Portland's St. Andrew Nativity School. Each fall, Friends takes the seventh-grade class into the eastern Columbia Gorge, and in the spring the eighth-grade class visits the western Gorge.
St. Andrew works with low-income and historically underserved kids to prepare them to attend college-prep high schools. The Wahoo! provides these students the opportunity to explore and learn about the Gorge.
In 2011, the Winthrop family established the Matthew Winthrop Memorial Fund to help fund this effort. In the fall of that year, 20 students attended the first Wahoo! trip. The program has since grown and in 2014, a spring field trip was added for the eighth-grade class. This expansion was made possible through a fund established by current Friends Board member Carrie Nobles in memory of her husband Buddy, who was a longtime Friends volunteer. In 2020, the Winthrop family established the Matthew Winthrop Endowment Fund to ensure the program continues in perpetuity.
Retired Oregon State Parks district manager Kevin Price, who headed up diversity and inclusion programs for Oregon State Parks, first learned about this program in its infancy. “You need to get me in front of these kids so they can see that someone of their color can do this job," Price said. He's been a mainstay of the trips ever since.
September 2022: Bringing Back the Joy of Youth Outdoor Education
The Great Gorge Wahoo! in the News
June 21, 2018 | Overcoming Barriers to Accessing Nature