It began in 2013, according to Penny Milton, Residential Water Efficiency Coordinator at the Portland Water Bureau (PWB). PWB is committed to educating youth about where drinking water comes from and how to be good stewards of this critical resource. Recognizing that their program goals aligned, PWB began funding water education at Outdoor School (ODS). This partnership creates the opportunity for PWB to provide locally-relevant content to ODS field instructors to expand their understanding of water supply and efficiency issues. This relationship helps more than 5,100 middle school students and 1,000 high school student leaders in PWB’s service area learn and teach water curriculum during field study, clean up, and mealtimes each year.

For many students, the water curriculum is one of the first times they are exposed to water conservation in a hands-on way. They learn that water is precious and supports all life as an integral part of a larger ecosystem, including fish, plants, and our economy. In addition, kids see water as a field of study with job potential. Milton personally became interested in water at Outdoor School, cajoling her little brother to help her do her own water studies after returning home. She eventually went on to pursue environmental studies before working i n the water industry.

Thank you, Portland Water Bureau!

“Working with Friends of ODS is a great way to enhance the bureau’s education program. Through this partnership alone, we reach over 6,000 kids a year with water education and efficiency messages. Our tagline, ‘From Forest to Faucet,’ becomes tangible in the residential outdoor setting—students see the resource right there in front of them during their onsite field study. It’s a powerful way to make the connection to drinking water.”

Penny Milton

Residential Water Efficiency Coordinator

Portland Water Bureau