And the truth is, we can’t wait for the sounds of squeals, shouts, singing and laughter to return to our tour site.
We miss the sound of students participating in Port Blakely’s Environmental Education program. During non-pandemic times, every spring and fall hundreds of kids clamber off their school buses and into the woods. Each class enjoys their own forest field day, a follow-up to our company’s in-class forestry curriculum. Every child gains an intimate, hands-on, positive experience in the woods, learning about wildlife habitat, sustainable forestry, carbon sequestration and clean water.
When it’s safe to resume, the program will reach a prodigious milestone: It will host its 100,000th visitor!
Port Blakely’s Environmental Education program started in Washington state 30 years ago, and has been running in Oregon since 2001. In 2009, the Oregon Forest Resources Institute (OFRI) started contributing to the program’s bus transportation costs to get students out into the forest. Since then, nearly 17,000 students, teachers and chaperones have received free busing to and from our forest tour site in Molalla, courtesy of OFRI.
Schoolchildren throughout Oregon benefit from free transportation to forest-related field trips such as ours through the OFRI bus transportation reimbursement program. Teachers tell us all the time how vital no-cost field trips are because most of our participating schools have no funding for field trips.
Even more shocking – many of the students who visit our forestland tell us, “I’ve never been in a forest before.” With nearly half of our state covered in trees, and the future of Oregon’s forests in their hands, it’s crucial to educate Oregon schoolchildren about the significant role forests play in our environment and the contributions they make in our daily lives.
So we are waiting (mostly) patiently for forest field trips to resume, and for students to exclaim in wonder or laugh in delight or simply sit in silence counting how many sounds of wildlife they can hear, once field trips bring them back into the woods we love.
Environmental Educator & Community Liaison