Outdoor School Days Conclude and Interns Shine!

Our Outdoor School Days program is possible with sponsorship from The Children’s Forest of Central Oregon. Over the course of 15 days, we saw 17 schools from Bend-La Pine, Redmond, and Prineville in grades K-5, which translates to over 1,100 students! Outdoor Days are experiential based hands-on learning, playing, and exploring in nature. Some students experienced the beautiful landscape of Smith Rock on the hotter days of early May, others enjoyed the rushing waters and open green spaces at Tumalo State Park, and the final four groups of students explored the wonderful learning spaces at Skyliner Lodge. Although the rains have been a downer on many of our Central Oregon planned adventures, we were lucky enough to have only one truly wet day, and even so, students had a ball splashing around and finding new ways to stay dry.

Thank you to The Children’s Forest of Central Oregon and our interns for making our Outdoor School Days happen. Teacher feedback is a great way to measure our effectiveness and their insight is always beneficial. Some said:

“Our favorite part was that our kids were learning outside!”

“We enjoyed the hands on activities for the kids. Appropriate information for kindergarten. Fun and friendly staff. Well organized. Patient staff with 5 & 6 year olds.”

“A great balance of direct instruction and games. I appreciated the staff’s flexibility with students that have behavior challenges and rolling with it!”

We couldn’t have put on these Outdoor School Days without our fabulous interns, though. They truly made learning special and unique and came with high spirits on a daily basis. Thanks to Ellysa, Hill, and Sherry, our outdoor days were fun and engaging!

Here is a bit more about all three of them as they wrap up working with us for the spring:

Hill Mannis is new to Bend and has a background working at a summer camp in New York. His presence truly made students feel welcome and his fun-loving attitude made it easy for students to connect with nature and with one another. Students enjoyed playing games, learning new vocabulary, and having one-on-one conversations with Hill. He engaged so many students in various ways, which is a wonderful natural trait!

Sherry Sellars has volunteered with The Environmental Center’s youth education programs before and truly loves being able to use her experience in outdoor education and providing students a fun, safe, and engaging learning environment. You can catch Sherry singing songs, teaching movements and dances, and incorporating funny words to her lessons in order for students to learn and explore!

Ellysa Lindenmaier is an OSU Student in the Nature, Eco, Adventure Tourism Program. She is a native Bendite and has a passion for being outdoors and a deep knowledge of our natural areas. Ellysa is an expert at connecting learning with games and hands-on activities so students loved all the tricks up her sleeve. She’s a natural fit for teaching students in the outdoors and leaves every day with a smile and a funny story!

Hill in his natural teaching environment!
“I love working outdoors and introducing kids to the beauty of nature. I know what it’s like to be in a classroom all day teaching. The best part is teaching kids who normally don’t get a chance to get outside.” -Sherry








“After working with Outdoor School, I’ve discovered that I love teaching environmental education and providing children with opportunities to learn about the natural world. It’s inspiring to see how one day outside can spark students’ curiosity and compassion for the outdoors. I believe that through the connections I made with the students, I taught them as much as they taught me.”

Outdoor School Days Spring Internship

*Update 4/29: This position has been filled.

The intern will play a vital active role in providing outdoor school programming for elementary and middle school this spring. The intern will work directly with the Outdoor School Coordinator to deliver the education program. Program delivery includes: presenting lessons, providing student management, and educating students about natural resources and environmental stewardship.

Internship Dates: April 30th through June 3rd, 2019. Pre-planning/training meeting week of April 22nd (TBD). Intern must work all 11 outdoor school days: April 30th, May 2, 7, 9, 14, 16, 21, 23, 28, 30, June 3. Start time: 7:45 am / End time: 2:30 pm

The intern will spend approximately 90% of his/her time as an instructor. He/she will spend another 10% of his/her time assisting with outdoor day coordination and general program support (such as maintaining supplies and helping with curriculum).


  • Teaching experience and/or interest in traditional and/or non-traditional education programs
  • Enthusiasm for working with students in outdoor education
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills
  • Ability to work independently as well as being a strong team player, with minimum supervision
  • Ability to commit to the full term of service for which they are applying
  • Regular and reliable attendance
  • Currently enrolled in college or high school

The intern will receive hands-on experience in field-based education as well as opportunities to network with both formal and non-formal educators. In addition to gaining valuable hands-on experience delivering environmental education programs, the Outdoor School Intern will also receive an education stipend between $750-$1,000 for successful completion of 100 hours.

Read more and fill out the application here, then please email responses to Becca Gilbert, Sustainability Educator. 

Meet our 2018 Spring Outdoor School Interns

The Environmental Center’s outdoor school program offers students an all-day excursion outside the classroom to a natural area. We travel to sites throughout Central Oregon – including Sawyer Park, Cline Falls State Park, Shevlin Park, and Skyliner Lodge.

Students rotate through several different environmental education activities, allowing ample time for exploration and free play in the woods. The program aligns with the learning strands of the environmental literacy plan and correlate with Oregon state standards. Lessons are aimed at increasing general understanding of ecological principles, considering our relation to natural systems and communities, and more.

The outdoor school program depends on several interns each season in order to reach as many students as possible in our region. This spring, we have Brandon, Michelle and Antoinette as part of our team. We are grateful for all their hard work and dedication to sustainability education! Here’s a little more about these awesome interns…

Brandon Thurman (left):

“My favorite part of outdoor school is being able to facilitate a fun day in the outdoors and seeing how excited the students get when they are learning in an environment other than a classroom.”

Brandon is a soon to be OSU Cascades Tourism and Outdoor Leadership and Recreation Management graduate. He is an Oregon native and enjoys the outdoor education experience and exploring our natural areas. Brandon is a natural leader and provides a fun learning environment for students and for our staff. You can always count on him for a good laugh! He incorporates his love for our natural areas with the games and activities he leads, and you can be sure to find him playing right alongside the students he is instructing!

Michelle Van Hilten (middle):

“The best part for me is being able to spark an interest in kids about nature and facilitate learning about this beautiful place we live in. I love being able to work with them to share my passion to enjoy and preserve the outdoors, and show them why we should protect these natural areas.”

Michelle is a soon to be graduate of OSU Cascades Tourism and Outdoor Leadership and International Eco-Tourism. She is a true Bendite and has a passion for experimental learning in the outdoors as well as conservation efforts for our delicate environment. Michelle is a wonderful educator and provides a wealth of knowledge to students while ensuring they enjoy their time outdoors together!

Antoinette Weaver (right):

“The best part of outdoor school for me has been meeting a group of like minded people who care about what we are contributing to. It’s been great to work with people,both interns and volunteers, who want to be there and put a lot of effort into what we do.”

Just graduated from UNC-Greensboro with Environmental Science and Business degrees. A day after graduating, she packed up her car and drove across the country to move to Bend and begin an internship with TEC two days later. Antoinette has a passion for Mother Nature and our planet. Ask her about why she stepped into this role immediately after acquiring her degree and she will tell you, “There is no time for breaks when it comes to saving our planet!” Antoinette is an excellent source of fun in the outdoors and teaches with enthusiasm and passion, which rubs off on all of the students.

Inspiring Read: High Country by Tom Bell

Last week, Tom Bell, the founder of High Country News, passed away at age 92. Tom wrote many inspiring pieces throughout his life – including the following essay, titled High Country, in 1970. We find it especially inspiring and relevant this summer, as we plan to expand our outdoor programming for kids in Central Oregon. And while not every kid is going to have the same experience Tom did, we want every kid to at least have a glimpse at the connection and power of the outdoors. We want more kids outside, interacting with the natural world, because we’ve seen firsthand how this makes a life long impact. Have 5 minutes? Give it a read!


Success! Plus a new match…

Woohoo! Just in time for the weekend, we were able to raise the money needed to receive a match from Capstone CPAs. Big thanks to all who contributed. We’re 25% of the way there, and still need YOUR help to double our outdoor programming this school year.

Anddddd… we have great news: Steven Floyd Consulting and Central Oregon Radiology Associates, P.C. are providing another matching challenge! Donate now and the next $500 will be doubled by these generous business supporters. Make an even greater impact!

Matching donation toward outdoor days!

Double your impact today with a matching donation!

The next $500 in donations will be matched dollar-for-dollar by Capstone CPAs, making your contribution go twice as far.

We believe youth need first-hand experiences outdoors to recognize and understand how they impact our environment. The kids that get those experiences develop a life-long ethic of environmental stewardship.

Help us get more kids outside in the 2016-2017 school year! Currently, we have the resources to deliver only 10 outdoor school days per school year in Central Oregon. Your gift will help us increase our outdoor programming to 20 days.

And remember, Capstone Certified Public Accountants LLC will match the next $500 in donations. Double your money and we’ll double our outdoor days for students! We can’t do it without your help.


Already made a contribution? THANK YOU! Please help spread the word to others!

Working towards Goal #1

We’re on day three of our campaign and we’ve raised $365 so far – thanks to all our generous donors! We still have a long way to go to hit our $7,000 goal by August 29th. (Remember, we need these funds before the school year begins!)

We’ve broken up our campaign into three goals. Right now we’re working toward Goal #1: We need $3,500 to develop, market and deliver 10 outdoor school days for 6th graders. When we hit this dollar amount, Children’s Forest of Central Oregon will provide us with an additional $3,040 for substitute teachers and bus transportation during the outdoor school day. Once we accomplish this first goal, it’s on to Goal #2! A big thanks to the Children’s Forest of Central Oregon for providing matching funds during this campaign. Read more about the budget to better understand our needs this school year.

We need to hit our goals in order to give more local kids access to outdoor school days. And we really can’t do it without your support! Please donate today and share with others who may be interested in getting involved. Thank you for helping us bring outdoor school to more youth in Central Oregon!


Here we go!

We’re very excited to be launching our Outdoor School Days campaign, just in time for school to start this year! We’ll post updates along the way – as we get closer to our goal – so stay tuned for some beautiful photos of outdoor school and letters from youth who have attended our programs. We know there’s a need for more outdoor programming and we look forward to making this a reality. But we need your help! Please help us share on social media, forward to friends via email, etc. We really can’t do it without your support. THANK YOU!