Statewide Outdoor School Program
History of Oregon’s Outdoor School Law
On November 8, 2016, Oregon voters passed Ballot Measure 99, authorizing funds from the state lottery to provide all fifth- or sixth-grade students in Oregon access to a week of Outdoor School. Measure 99 provided the funding for the Outdoor School law, which was passed by the Oregon Legislature in 2015.
Every Oregon student in fifth OR sixth grade, including home schooled and charter school students, will have the opportunity to attend a weeklong Outdoor School program, or an equivalent outdoor education experience that reflects local community needs, provided their school district or education service district (ESD) applies to receive funding for an eligible Outdoor School program.
This is a voluntary program; all school districts and education service districts (ESDs) will have the opportunity to access the funds, but are not required to participate. Oregon State University Extension Service is the funding administrator, and is overseeing the creation of the funding program, managing allocations, and supporting schools in preparing and implementing Outdoor School programs.
Per the law, the state made funds available to OSU Extension Service in July 2017. Funds for the fall 2017 semester have been distributed to the school districts and ESDs who have applied. If you are a district or ESD and have NOT been notified about how to apply for funding, or have other questions, please email the statewide Outdoor School program.
Outdoor School for All! Diverse Programming and Outcomes in Oregon is a project of the Oregon Environmental Literacy Program, which began in 2014 and is supported by the Gray Family Foundation. The intent of this project is to build understanding and knowledge about current outdoor school programming and its intended outcomes. The common measurement system is based on legislative requirements, a wide variety of data sources, an existing literature/ knowledge base and substantial input from stakeholders. The data gathered will support elements of the statewide program. These include:
Legislative reporting requirements (OR-SB 439)
Diversity, equity and inclusion
Professional development and learning
Community engagement and outreach
Program and curriculum development
The common measurement system was piloted with six outdoor schools of differing length, programming and size — 82 teachers and 680 students participated during the 2017/8 school year. Initial results show significant positive gains and strong influence on many educational outcomes. Click here to learn more!
Private, charter and homeschool students have a path to access statewide outdoor school funds.
Read the official announcement here!
The mission of Friends of Outdoor School has been constant: that every Oregon student attends a week of Outdoor School. We are constantly striving, through our work that you so generously support, to get closer to that goal every day.
Because of your investment in Friends of Outdoor School (thank you!), we helped to pass Measure 99, which funds a statewide outdoor school program with lottery dollars. Working together with you, tireless Outdoor School supporters, we have been advocating on behalf of Oregon students and families ever since to ensure that funds reach and support every child, teacher, school and education service district that want to participate outdoor school.
We are pleased to announce that our shared advocacy efforts have been fruitful and we have moved further down the path toward our vision! The following paragraphs provide clarification about how private school students can participate in outdoor school using Measure 99 funds.
Measure 99 funds are limited to students who reside in Oregon and are enrolled in a public school or charter school. Many public schools currently allow temporary enrollment for homeschool and/or private school students so that they can access services such as special education, sports programs, and foreign language courses. Similarly, families of private school or homeschooled students may, at the discretion of the local district, temporarily enroll their students in their local public school for the duration of outdoor school programming offered by that district. Any student enrolled as a public school student at the time of outdoor school would be able to attend the district’s public school outdoor school programming using Measure 99 funds.
PLEASE NOTE: Enrollment decisions are determined by individual districts. As a result, the policies of local public school districts may vary. Individual schools need to connect with their districts to make an agreement about dual enrollment and outdoor school. Therefore, families are encouraged to work with their current school to seek guidance on enrolling their students (dual enrollment) for the purpose of outdoor school for the 2019-2020 academic year. In order for this process to be smooth and successful, we ask that families contact the school that their child regularly attends about this process, and refrain from contacting local districts or education service districts.
• Students must be enrolled (or dually-enrolled) in and attend a public school district’s official outdoor school programming to be eligible for Measure 99 funding.
• Private schools may not apply for Measure 99 funds directly.
• Districts may begin including dually-enrolled students for the sole purpose of outdoor school on the 2019-2020 funding application (to launch early spring 2019).
• Back payments or reimbursements for private school students who previously attended outdoor school through a public school program are not available for 2017-2018 (the first year of Measure 99 funding).
• Private schools who wish to conduct their own outdoor school programming may continue to apply for funding through the Gray Family Foundation.
On behalf of all of us, thank you for your continued interest and support of Outdoor School in Oregon.