Why We’re Supporting Measure 99: Outdoor School Endorsement
By Wendy Collie, New Seasons CEO

Reposted with permission

I’m pleased to share with you today that New Seasons has endorsed Oregon ballot measure 99, to ensure all Oregon students have the opportunity to attend Outdoor School.

Outdoor School has been a rite of passage for Oregon students for almost 50 years. It’s a uniquely Oregon tradition that inspires our youth to love the great outdoors, and instills in them the value of protecting our natural resources. Kids are exposed to the natural sciences in a way that no classroom can offer, and along the way, learn leadership and critical thinking skills, build team-working and social skills, and in some cases forge friendships that last for life.

Because of persistent cutbacks in education funding, only about half of Oregon students currently have the opportunity to attend Outdoor School. Ballot Measure 99 would designate 4% of the Oregon Lottery Fund (with a cap at $22 million) to ensure permanent funding, while protecting the current lottery allocations for conservation and education. The 4% would come from funds set aside for economic development -- appropriate when you consider that Outdoor School would create $27 million in positive economic impact each year. The program would create 600 jobs in our state and serve students attending public, private, charter and home schools. With a stable and secure funding source, every Oregon fifth or sixth grader could receive a full week of hands-on, science-driven, outdoor education.

I have a personal connection to this issue, because both my sons were camp counselors at Outdoor School. Jake, my youngest, loved to watch kids thrive in a new learning environment, so much so that he’s signed up to be a counselor again this year. Matthew’s lasting impression of Outdoor School is how quickly a cabin full of 10 strangers could create such a strong sense of camaraderie in just a few short days. He really enjoyed introducing “city kids” to aspects of nature they had never been exposed to before.

We believe Outdoor School for All is an important community initiative – one worth standing up for. That’s why we’re speaking out, and using our voice to raise awareness and build support for the ballot measure. My guess is, many of you have your own Outdoor School story to tell. If you’re willing to share it, we’d love to hear it. So send your stories to sarahj@newseasonsmarket.com.