Tillamook County Voters Should Say Yes to Measure 99 This November
By Dean Bones (Moses)
Tillamook Headlight Herald/In My View
(published Sept. 15, 2016)

There’s no doubt that supporting our natural resources industry in Tillamook County is important for our economy, community and future.

We must give kids a strong foundation and motivate them in ways that inspire them to explore the opportunities that our natural resource industries provide. And those lessons don’t always come from inside the classroom or from a book. Kids come alive—curious and engaged—when they get outdoors.

For 50 years, Outdoor School has been a proven success in Oregon, including in Tillamook County. It gives 6th grade students a scientific, hands-on learning opportunity they just can’t get in the classroom. Outdoor School helps kids builds self-confidence, self-reliance and collaboration skills. It exposes them to science, technology, engineering and math fields (STEM) which is critical to success in the 21st century.

This November, voters will have the opportunity to help save Outdoor School for All kids, no matter where they live, what their background or where they come from. Measure 99 is the most economical and effective way to deliver results without any new taxes, through dedicated lottery funds. 

In Tillamook County, we’ve always had a strong connection to the outdoors, but for kids, that’s quickly changing. Nationally, the average child today spends seven hours a day on a screen, and less time outside than ever before. Outdoor School reconnects kids with science and nature, fostering a sense of responsibility, stewardship and connection to the land.

As an educator for 49 years, I've seen firsthand the incredibly powerful positive experience that students gain at Outdoor School. Countless graduating high school seniors have noted that their time at Outdoor School was the single most important experience in their school years. Across the state, educators, scientists and natural resource professionals credit their experience at Outdoor School as the spark that led to their careers.

Without Measure 99, the future of Oregon’s Outdoor School program is uncertain. Because of budget cuts and unstable funding, about half of students in the state are denied the opportunity to attend Outdoor School–and often it’s the kids who need it most who are excluded. Stable funding means Outdoor School for ALL kids. Every child deserves this opportunity.

If we are going to train, motivate, inspire and recruit our next generation of leaders, workers and foster a love of the land and our natural resources in our kids, then a solid foundation in outdoor and natural resource education is vital.  Without raising taxes, Measure 99 creates that dedicated funding and is a perfect fit for how lottery funds are intended to be used, by supporting all three of its core missions: education, the economy and Oregon's natural resources.

For the sake of our kids, our education system and our community, please join me in pledging to vote Yes on Measure 99 to Save Outdoor School for All this November. 

Dean Bones is the former director of Tillamook County Outdoor School for 36 years and a retired teacher who taught outside of Tillamook County for 6 years, taught at East School in Tillamook for 13 years, Beaver Grade School/Nestucca Valley Middle School in South County for 13 years, has worked as a substitute teacher for 13 years and has worked part-time for Tillamook Estuaries Partnership for 10 years planning and directing their all-county 3rd and 4th grade natural resource activity days.