IslandWood reopens overnight school, wants it for all

IslandWood is advocating for outdoor school for all students as it reopened its School Overnight Program last week.

After an almost two-year pause due to COVID-19, Lake Quinault Elementary was at the campus last week exploring the 250-acre classroom in the overnight program.

Meanwhile, last spring, Islandwood was part of a movement to create funding to ensure an Outdoor School for All program for Washington state students. The Washington Outdoor School Consortium succeeded in advocating the legislature to allocate $10 million to send vulnerable students to outdoor learning experiences. But only 30% of students were served.

IslandWood, along with others in the consortium, is working with legislative leaders to make outdoor school a permanent part of the curriculum.

House Bill 2078 would establish a permanent Outdoor School for All program. Gov. Jay Inslee has proposed $52 million to ensure that all 90,000 Washington 6th-graders can attend outdoor school.

As the bill states, “For too many kids, access to the outdoors is determined by race, income, ability and zip code. Current access to outdoor school is inequitable mostly due to funding and administrative constraints.”

“We were founded on the belief that every child should have access to meaningful outdoor learning experiences,” said Megan Karch, IslandWood CEO and legislative co-chair of the consortium. “We have a historic opportunity before us to make sure they are made available for all Washington state students.”

Through Islandwood’s experiential environmental education programs for 3rd- to 8th-graders, teacher professional development series, graduate program and public policy advocacy, it hopes to inspire the next generation of environmental stewards and problem solvers.