5 Local Oregon Organizations That Get Kids Outside

outdoor organization oregonAlmost every­one who loves the out­doors as an adult spent time out­side as a kid. If we don’t get kids out­side, and away from their com­put­er screens and phones, all of the out­doors will suf­fer in the future. Here are five local orga­ni­za­tions that get kids out­side in nature and that need and deserve your support.

Friends of Out­door School
For thou­sands of kids in Ore­gon, a week of Out­door School is a life-chang­ing rit­u­al: learn about ecol­o­gy for a week while stay­ing at camp on the coast or in the Cas­cades dur­ing their for­ma­tive mid­dle-school years. When Out­door School bud­get cuts made Out­door School a priv­i­lege for kids from well-off school dis­tricts, Friends of Out­door School stepped in to fight for fund­ing to send every kid to Out­door School. Fund­ing for Out­door School passed by an over­whelm­ing land­slide in 2016, and they’re con­tin­u­ing the work.

The Stu­dent Con­ser­va­tion Association
A nation­al orga­ni­za­tion, the Stu­dent Con­ser­va­tion Asso­ci­a­tion is to out­door careers what Out­door School is to lov­ing nature. By plac­ing high school stu­dents, gap years, col­lege stu­dents and recent grad­u­ates in out­door intern­ships and jobs—from build­ing trails to col­lect­ing data on wildlife and teach­ing young kids—that often lead to out­door jobs and careers.

Colum­bia Slough Water­shed Council
Most North­west­ern­ers live in cities, and we need to get kids out­side where they live. The Colum­bia Slough Water­shed Coun­cil helps peo­ple redis­cov­er one of Portland’s most forgotten—and sur­pris­ing­ly wildlife-rich—waterways, via canoe­ing, hik­ing in parks and urban wildlife refuges, and catch­ing bugs and oth­er crit­ters. They’re a great exam­ple of many oth­er orga­ni­za­tions that help kids find nature around them every day.

The African Amer­i­can Out­door Association
In the Pacif­ic North­west, access to nature has unfor­tu­nate­ly been found to be lim­it­ed by income and racial dis­par­i­ties. Get­ting to the moun­tains or the rivers requires trans­porta­tion out of the city, time off from jobs, and some­one who knows the outdoors—all of which are eas­i­er when you have finan­cial secu­ri­ty. The African Amer­i­can Out­door Asso­ci­a­tion tries to break this cycle, pro­vid­ing fam­i­ly out­ings for Portland’s African Amer­i­can community.

Port­land Audubon Society
Housed on the edge of For­est Park, the Port­land Audubon Soci­ety is prob­a­bly best known for either the Wildlife Care Cen­ter, where they reha­bil­i­tate injured wild ani­mals, or advo­ca­cy on behalf of wildlife habi­tat. But they also run edu­ca­tion pro­grams that take kids out­side in urban areas, bring nature into class­rooms, train teach­ers, and teach adults about the nat­ur­al world.