The benefits of outdoor education, for children of all ages, have been clearly documented. And protected forests, parks, and waterways in places like the Columbia Gorge can provide an incredible natural classroom. Yet, despite the proximity to numerous natural wonders in the Pacific Northwest, children’s access to nature can vary widely by community and differ sharply from school to school.
On Nov. 21, Friends of the Columbia Gorge hosted a special virtual discussion exploring the opportunities and challenges in education outdoors featuring insights and lessons learned from leading local outdoor educators. Organized in partnership with CultureSeed, Friends of Tyron Creek, and Gorge Ecology Outdoors, featured speakers included:
- Adrienne Acosta, Board Member, Gorge Ecology Outdoors & Hood River County School District Administrator
- Asnoldo Benitez, Outdoor Program Director & Young Men’s Peer Circle Guide, CultureSeed
- Jenni Bergemann, ELL Educator, Chenowith Elementary School, North Wasco County School District & Summer Outdoor School Teacher, Gorge Ecology Outdoors
- Jonathan Hayden, Education Program Manager, Friends of Tryon Creek
- Burt Edwards (Moderator), Communications Director, Friends of the Columbia Gorge
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CultureSeed provides transformative outdoor programming with a prevention and behavioral health focus, an emergency relief fund for the families of the youth we serve, and meaningful alternatives to incarceration.
Friends of Tryon Creek, working in partnership with Oregon State Parks, seeks to inspire every community to identify, cultivate or reclaim their relationship with nature in this cherished urban forest.
Gorge Ecology Outdoors: The Columbia Gorge Ecology Institute works to nurture every child's sense of belonging and connection to the earth through outdoor experiences and education.
Special thanks to: Natasha Stone, Kassy Delgado, and Melissa Gonzalez.