From Bend, Oregon to Katmai, Alaska

The Future of Youth Education at TEC

Youth Education has been a key pillar of The Environmental Center for over 30 years. In the years to come, we aim to continuously strengthen and diversify our offerings for Central Oregon youth to fit their needs. After all, we understand that youth are the future stewards of this place we call home, and we want our work to not only amplify their voices but give them the tools they need to become leaders in sustainability and environmental justice.

One of our goals as Youth Education programs grow is to increase leadership opportunities for older students, which has organically come to fruition through a combination of the work of our youth education staff, community partnerships, and the growth of the high school Green Leadership Coalition (learn more about the GLC here)! So when Jackie Wilson, one of our Youth Ed staff members for over 15 years, was approached with an offer to take local students on an Ocean Plastics Recovery expedition to Alaska, she couldn’t turn it down. In fact, Jackie and another TEC staff member, Ani, participated in a similar expedition last year on their own and returned absolutely inspired (read more about that trip here)!

Jackie saw this opportunity as a way to engage high school students, and perhaps pilot a new key piece of our sustainability curriculum here at TEC, combining hands-on experiential learning and rethinking waste – two areas we already focus on heavily.

Gaining Community Support

We quickly saw that this type of experience for Central Oregon youth is important to our community as well. After announcing an impromptu fundraising campaign, we watched in awe as folks chipped in right away! Thanks to Children’s Forest of Central Oregon, Mt. Bachelor, Gear Fix, and many generous donors, the trip was funded and Jackie and two students, Karen and Riley, were off to Alaska!

Post-Trip Reflections

Watch the video to hear what Jackie, Karen, and Riley had to say about the expedition, what they learned, and how it will continue to impact their lives in Central Oregon and beyond!

What’s the future of the collected marine debris?

OPR’s grant from NOAA is funding both recovery and research. The plan is to bring the marine debris from Katmai back to Portland where it will be sorted and analyzed by Scott Farling and possibly some OSU students. Scott will oversee the research efforts to develop sustainable reuse, recycling, and recovery solutions for ocean plastics.