LETTERS TO THE EDITOR TIP SHEET

Letters to the editor are among the most widely read features in any newspaper. Your letter can generate plenty of discussion and can Outdoor School from disappearing from the public conversation. The interest your letter generates might also inspire the news media to write a story about Outdoor School for All.

HOW DO YOU WRITE A LETTER TO THE EDITOR?

1. Open the letter with a simple greeting.

You may not know the editor's name, but don't worry! Simply start with "Dear Editor." However, if you have the editor's name, you should use it.

2. Create a powerful first sentence -- grab their attention!

Numbers 2 and 3 can go hand in hand. Let them know that you are both rational and passionate, and that you want Outdoor School for all!

3. Explain what the letter is about at the beginning.

4. Tell why the issue is important.

For nearly 60 years, Outdoor School has provided high-quality, placed-based science education to generations of Oregon students. Launched in 1957 by Dr. Irene Hollenbeck of the Southern Oregon College of Education, Outdoor School is an Oregon tradition and a rite of passage that has enriched and inspired over one million Oregonians. Continuing the multi-generational legacy of Outdoor School demands that we raise future generations to value and respect the land, the opportunities it offers us, and the responsibility it requires.  

5. Provide evidence & make it personal

Provide an example from your life that speaks to the power of Outdoor School or use one of the talking points below.

6. Tell what you think should be done about the issue.

Senate Bill 439 and House Bill 2648 would establish a state Outdoor Education Fund to provide full and equitable access to Outdoor School for students across the state. The bills don’t require schools to create programs, rather we are asking the legislature to provide $22 million—enough funding to send every sixth grader in the state to a full week of Outdoor School—and designate Oregon State University Extension Service to administer the statewide program and ensure funding goes to high quality, science-based Outdoor School programs.

or

Now our legislators need to know that full and stable funding for Outdoor School is a top priority for voters in _________insert city name_______. It’s time for our legislators to step up to the plate and do what’s best for Oregon’s students. Support full funding for Outdoor School and ensure that this invaluable program continues to inspire Oregonians for generations to come.

7. Read it over for clarity. 

Make sure you have not exceeded the word limit. Most newspapers accept letters with a word count of between 200 and 300 words. 

Talking Points

  • Outdoor School is an opportunity to give kids a break from video games and computers and get outdoors, experiencing Oregon's natural resources first hand. 
  • Study after study shows that when children connect with nature, they are mentally and physically healthier.
  • Outdoor education programs develop leadership as well as critical thinking and social skills; they have been proven to help children learn better as well as help them understand how natural systems work.
  • Outdoor School is equally accessible to all students. Through small group learning, all students—whether or not they have disabilities, are English language learners, or are talented and gifted—receive outdoor education that is tailored to their needs and learning styles.
  • The skills and experiences gained through Outdoor School programs instill self-confidence, help youth realize their leadership potential and make them more self-sufficient. Outdoor School programs also provide high school students with volunteer teaching opportunities, helping them become stronger leaders and more college and career ready.
  • Fully funding Outdoor School is a job generator for rural Oregon, creating new full-time jobs in Oregon’s highest unemployment areas. 

Link

Thank you for your support.

 Questions? Please email us!

Caroline Fitchett, OOEC Statewide Coordinator
caroline@oroutdooreducation.org