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On Saturday, September 17th, students from the Creston neighborhood in SE Portland went on Passport Oregon’s inaugural outing. Working with families and school leaders, we created a cohort of students that had limited exposure to our environment, but ample enthusiasm for exploration.

Our trip emphasized exploration. The first stop was Trillium Lake. Although it was pouring rain, our pioneers poured out of the bus and rushed onto the trail with excitement. On the trail, the students learned about the history of the lake and the role of the animals along the route. At one point a student caught a salamander, and there were shrieks of delight, as the group gathered around to take turns holding the small creature.

Next, we took a tour of the historic Timberline Lodge that was led by the U.S. Forest Service. Their informative tour educated the students by enveloping them in the era of the New Deal. From lessons in art and architecture to stories of skiing and construction setbacks, these young minds were filled with facts foundational to Oregon’s formation. Their eyes lit up as they took in the wooden staircases and explored the hallways of the lodge.

Finally, after a visit with Timberline’s mascot, Heidi, we entered the Mount Hood Cultural Center and Museum. The cohort completed a scavenger hunt, collecting items and information in a fun and engaging way. The hunt exposed them to empowering stories of Oregonians. Students smiled broadly while they scribbled furiously on their worksheets. For their efforts, we topped the day off with whip cream over hot chocolate at the Huckleberry Inn.

Our upcoming trips will take students into the majestic Gorge for more hiking and exploration. Then, on October 15th, they’ll venture to the coast. November will include a family hike in the Portland area and an exploration of Eugene’s buttes. The year will conclude with a Silver Falls/State Capitol school day.

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Passport Oregon was founded in the Spring of 2016 with the vision to take students and their parents out of the normal day-to-day and into nature. We partner with schools and community groups to identify young Oregonians that lack avenues to adventures in Oregon’s outdoors. We want every Oregonian to see Oregon, all of Oregon.

We began our inaugural trip with an eight-student cohort from the Creston neighborhood in SE Portland. In the fall of 2016, they began exploring: Mount Hood, the Gorge, the coast, the State Capitol Building, Silver Falls, and Skinners Butte in Eugene. These trips open doors to exploration, education, and empowerment. Our trips are strategically designed to allow students the chance to experience nature, learn from experts, and gain the skills they need to make the outdoors a part of their lives. Our trips include at least one parent leader so that they can become an instrument for taking students outdoors. In addition to our trips, we also host regular Passport Oregon hikes with the parents in nearby settings, so that the whole family can enjoy nature together.

In the spring of 2017, new cohorts will launch out of Portland. They’ll follow the same path taken by our first pioneers in the Creston cohort. With your support, the summer of 2017 will mark the start of cohorts based out of Eugene. By 2019, we aim to have Passport Oregon cohorts in communities across the state.

Our staff is entirely volunteer-based, which means that all donated funds go toward creating our transformative outings. Your donation has the power to take students outdoors to experience nature, become more educated, and empowers them! Passport Oregon is a nonprofit, and your donation may be tax deductible.