of the state’s 197 districts received funding
cumulative days spent outside by our 5th & 6th graders
counties participating (that’s all of them!)
Outdoor School gives kids a chance to shine, gives them more confidence and a greater love for learning and discovery.— Brittany Bottensek, director, Triangle Lake Charter School Outdoor Program Read Their Story
Camp Life Among the Ponderosa Pines
It’s forests of pine trees and thousand-year-old lava rock as far as the eye can see across Deschutes County. For a group of fifth-graders, these landscapes provide learning opportunities and a lifetime of memories. Camp Tamarack is the Outdoor School hub for schools in Central Oregon. Six years ago, only select schools could afford to bring their students. Today, 40 schools and more than 3,000 fifth and sixth graders take in the rich educational lessons only the Deschutes National Forest has to offer. In 2019 the state allocated $23,067 Lottery-generated dollars to High Lakes Elementary School. These funds help to send their students to Camp Tamarack, where they learn to identify different plants, habitats, and ecosystems. Oregon was founded by proud pioneers, traveling west in search of opportunity and discovery amidst a breathtaking natural wonderland. That tradition continues in Deschutes County thanks to Camp Tamarack and with support from Lottery funding.
Fresh Air and Nature for John Day Students
Grant County makes for a wonderfully rural, country life. Children from this stretch of our state grow up surrounded by agriculture and wilderness. While it may be easy to otherwise assume, students from Grant County don’t necessarily have unlimited access to the outdoors. Lottery dollars help support Outdoor School for Grant County School District #3 students to the tune of $217,556 in 2019. These funds went a long way in provide field trips to natural fields, waterways, farms and forests in the area. The North Fork John Day Water Council took outdoor learning a step further by providing vermicomposting bins to the classroom. Inside of these bins, students observe how worms – natural recyclers – turn leftover food into fertilizer for plants. More growth is ahead, as rural communities like John Day grow in size and in the students’ curiosity for science. When you play Lottery games, you help do good things for rural Oregon.
A Teacher’s Perspective
Laurie McDowell has attended Outdoor School with her students for some 20 years, giving her a deep perspective on how the program impacts students’ lives, often long past their return to the classroom. Not only do kids get to learn whether or not an area is a healthy habitat for animals and plants, Outdoor School also gives them important social interactions that simply can’t be replicated at regular school. Additionally, for many students in her urban school, Outdoor School was their first encounter with Oregon’s natural beauty beyond the manicured borders of a city park. She remembers checking in with a student who had been very challenging in the classroom, just to see how his Outdoor School experience was going. His unexpected response was, “Mrs. McDowell, no one’s ever told me that this was here. How come I didn’t know this was here before?” The experience at camp revealed a world previously unknown to him. According to McDowell, these are the “Aha” moments that Outdoor School brings to students’ lives long beyond the sixth-grade.