Read about the myriad benefits of Outdoor School here.
"It's not just a trip to the woods for the week. It's a critical part of our curriculum. Reading about the forest is a lot different from being in the forest."
- Cheryl "Isis" Bland, sixth grade teacher
Every Oregon student attends a week of Outdoor School.
Friends of Outdoor School is dedicated to increasing student access to Oregon Outdoor School programs that contribute to educational development, inspire youth, and promote personal growth.
How We Accomplish Our Mission
We accomplish our mission through advocacy, fundraising, and community engagement.
Friends of ODS is the key connection between Outdoor School and the larger community of individuals, businesses, nonprofit organizations, and government agencies that support Outdoor School programming.
Created from a grassroots movement in 2003 to save the MESD Outdoor School program for Portland Public Schools, Friends of ODS has grown to become the lead organization in Oregon supporting Outdoor School.
In 2015, Friends of ODS helped to pass Oregon Senate Bill 439, which established the first-ever statewide Outdoor School program administered by Oregon State University Extension Service.
In 2016, we established and led a coalition (Oregon Outdoor Education Coalition) to secure state funding for a week of Outdoor School for all fifth- or sixth-grade students in Oregon through a citizens’ initiative, Ballot Measure 99. That November, 67% of Oregon voters passed the measure into state law. However, due to a $1.5 billion state budget shortfall, the $22 million per year that the measure designated for the new state program was cut to $12 million.
Friends of ODS continues the fight for the full $22 million to be reinstated, and for the funds to remain a permanent part of the state budget.
In 1957, a hands-on field science program called Outdoor School (ODS) launched in Oregon. It is an opportunity for students in fifth or sixth grade to move from their school classrooms into the outdoors to learn, immersed in nature. ODS programs are typically housed in residential camps; students stay onsite for up to five nights. While there, students learn about soil, water, plants and animals, as well as natural sciences specific to the local community and economy.