What an Incredible Afternoon!

ECO helps us better understand the meaning of life and wonder.
— Bilquist Elementary 5th grader

Photography by Wasim Muklashy. Thank you Wasim.

This year’s Garden Party was our second-ever. Now, we are still new to throwing events but WOW (!!), amazing things happen when our community gathers.

We spent the afternoon engaging with the stories we share - those that shape and inspire us - especially through our personal and shared connections to nature. We heard a piece of ECO’s founding narrative through a letter written from Chugach to Teal - a story that preceded ECO and gave shape to its vision. Chugach is our very own co-founder, Bethany Thomas, and Teal is a former Outdoor School Supervisor and current Board Member. It was through Bethany’s experience with Outdoor School that galvanized a desire to teach, lead, and ultimately take up the work of bringing hands-on and field-based ecology to students.

Kelli Joy, a fifth-grade teacher, shared how ECO programs impact her and her students and told us why one of her students chose us for a class giving project: “I chose Ecology in Classrooms and Outdoors because I hope that I, others, and you can make Portland be the place to be...contact with nature is linked to better health, less stress, and also a better mood. No other product I know can have those amazing features.” Well said!

Our student’s voices were present through some of their Dear Nature letters:

Our guests shared their own Dear Nature letters with a mix of reflection, humor, longing, and inspiration — in words and drawings. Deaven Edmonson, a recent high school graduate and aspiring spoken word poet, crafted a piece to share with us titled, Mother Nature. We raised our glasses to Bethany — her 13 years of service and her move over to the Board of Directors. And, we raised our paddles in support of going Statewide!

It was an afternoon well spent.

We also surpassed our fundraising goals! It is difficult that so much of what we do is tied to the money it takes to do it. We are honored and humbled by every dollar invested in us. We will make every penny count in the effort to connect more students to nature for the long-term health of all our communities both social and ecological.

A giant thanks to all those who contributed to the success of our event — in-kind, in-cash, and in-time. Thank you Patrick Siver, our talented emcee and to David Cohen for providing the artwork that visually defined our event.

Thank you Kelli, Deaven, Dan and all who attended for sharing your stories.

Thank you ALL for being part of our story, our ECOsystem

If you missed the party, but still want to show your love for ECO, you can always make a contribution at ecologyoutdoors.org/donate.

A giant thanks to our sponsors:


Earth Month in a Nutshell

Earth Month 2018 flew past in a whirlwind of fun and energy! Our educators delivered 61 ecology lessons in classrooms about town and took students out on five field trips. We hosted our 2nd annual film screening, made new connections for our 3rd annual Earth Day Partner’s initiative, and participated for the 4th year in Lent School’s Earth Day Celebration. We’ve been enjoying all the activity!

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April brings milder weather, and along with it, a whole lotta field trips -- between now and the end of the school year, we’ll take 300 students out into nearby Oregon State Parks. And! Our kids will have BOGS rain boots for use in any spring showers, thanks to a recent Bogs’ 2% for Outdoor Education Grant.

On one recent adventure a student discovered a new-found fascination with snails, collecting five slimy friends to accompany him down the trail. When another student complimented his collection, he said, “I love them. These snails are 40% cool, 40% fun, and 20% gross!” Well said!

We have the world to live in on the condition that we will take good care of it. And to take good care of it, we have to know it. And to know it and to be willing to take care of it, we have to love it.
— Wendell Berry

At our film screening, Look & See, we took a look at the life and times of Wendell Berry. His kinship with the land and call to know it (and care for it) as part of ourselves gets at the core of why we believe our work here at ECO is necessary. We see first hand how our students come to love nature the more they know of her - even her slimy creatures!   

The screening brought together over 100 individuals from our community who also got a dose of the ECO experience through virtual reality thanks to Wasim Muklashy from Superswell VR.  

Take a peek at the ECO experience with or without a VR headset! >> Thanks Wasim!!

We served up tasty Brew Dr. Kombucha (thanks Brew Dr. for the supply!) and popcorn with a Jacobsen Salt bar (such a yummy treat!). We couldn’t’ve done it without these fine folks as well as Serenity Ibsen, PNCA and generous sponsorships from Corporate Sustainability Collaborative, Heritage Bank, and Tiedemann Wealth Management.

By the time Earth Day rolled around on April 22, we’d organized our third annual Earth Day Partners initiative with great success! Our ever-dedicated and ongoing partners, Moberi and Townshend’s Tea Company, were joined this year by The Timbers Team Store, The Float Shoppe, Glassybaby, and Bloom Garden Supply. Every one of these partners contributed a portion of their sales to ECO which raised over $2,500 to support hands-on ecology programming that will get kids connected to their natural world. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Did you know?

It’s still a couple years out - but - Earth Day turns 50 in 2020! This is definitely something worth celebrating!

#givingtuesday - Everybody Wins!

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#givingtuesday is a day to give back to the organization's in our community that are working year-round to make the world a better place. That in itself is a great reason to participate in #givingtuesday! But, if you want to give back AND perhaps win a prize, we're making that easy. Then you win, and so do the kids who get to participate in ECO programs.

Donate $10+ via giveguide.org/#eco between 7am-9pm (PST) today, and you'll be automatically entered to win all kind of great prizes. In fact, we're actually running 4 contests today, so there are four chances for you to participate, and maybe even win! 

From 7-10am (PST) you could win: 

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  • A 10oz bag of roasted beans from Good Coffee
  • $25 gift card at Besaw's Restaurant
  • 1 month free membership at Fit Body Boot Camp
  • $100 Amazon gift card
  • 90-minute float at Float Shoppe
  • Case of Brew Dr. Kombucha, flavor of your choice 
  • 30-minute Hot Diggity Dog dog walking service

From 10:01-2pm (PST) you could win...

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  • A pair of KEEN shoes in a style and size of your choice
  • Men's Airblaster men's base layer black Ninja Suit + 50% off KEEN shoes
  • Handcrafted cocktail tasting for 4 at Thomas and Sons Distillery
  • $100 Amazon gift card
  • Patagonia Black Hole duffel bag
  • 90-minute Float at Float Shoppe
  • Women's Patagonia Nano Puff Jacket + 50% off a pair of KEENS
  • 30-minute Hot Diggity Dog dog walking service

From 2:01-6pm (PST) you could win...

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  • Townshend's Tea loose leaf sampler & mug
  • Sunglasses from Shwood Eyewear
  • Handwoven rug from Stitch & Loom
  • A week's worth of Moberi smoothies
  • Artistic canvas photograph of Mt. Thielsen (60"x44") by Ben Canale
  • Case of Brew Dr. Kombucha, flavor of your choice
  • A 10oz bag of roasted beans from Good Coffee
  • Women's Patagonia Better Sweater Jacket + 50% off a pair of KEENS
  • 30-minute Hot Diggity Dog dog walking service

From 6:01-9pm (PST), you could win...

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  • A pair of KEEN shoes in a style and size of your choice
  • Ranger Chocolate tour & tasting for ten
  • $25 gift card for Besaw's Restaurant
  • 4 club level tickets to a Trail Blazers game
  • 90-minute float at Float Shoppe
  • Men's Patagonia Fjord Flannel Jacket + 50% a pair of KEENS
  • Two items of your choice from Sub_Urban Riot website
  • Free rental of 16 GlassyBaby Votives for your event

The Give!Guide is LIVE!


What is the Give!Guide? It's a community-wide effort to support 150 worthy non-profits serving the Portland Metro area. Annually organized by our local weekly paper, the Willamette Week, the Give!Guide has raised millions over the years - inspiring young people to give, informing the public about the good being done all around them, and empowering the select nonprofits with the support of our community.

ECO is proud to be a part of the Give!Guide again this year. Last year, we raised an unprecedented $23,347! And, we're proud to say, we also received the most donations from individuals 35 and under (the young folk like what we do too!).

We'd be leaving out a key ingredient of the Give!Guide if we didn't mention that there are prizes. Yes, PRIZES! The Give!Guide offers amazing opportunities to win prizes like:

 - $500 at Powell's City of Books (Nov 09)

- $250, plus goodies, at Tender Loving Empire (for Donors 35 & Under only!) (Nov 12)

- A Brasada Ranch Getaway (Nov 16)

- A VIP package to see sold-out show: Portugal. The Man. @ McMenamin's (Nov 30)

- Sony Alpha a6300 Camera (for Donors 35 & Under only!) (Dec 04)

- A Trex FX Bike (Dec 07)

- Trail Blazer Fan Package (Dec 14)

- Salt & Straw Ice Cream & Pips + Bounce Party for 60! (Dec 21)

- ExplOregon Vacation Package (Dec 28)

That's a lot to win! Mark those dates on your calendar! 

The Give!Guide also makes available to every donor - no matter what day of the week you make your donation - a free Stumptown coffee, a Ken's Artisan Bakery croissant, a cup of drip from Nossa Familia, a Gluten Free Gem Pastry and a free scoop of Salt 'n' Straw ice cream. Yum.

And, it's nice to remember, that all the goodies and chances to win are just one aspect of what you get when you donate through the Give!Guide. Above all that, you're also getting that great feeling of doing something meaningful for those in your community.

Give to ECO through the Give!Guide this year, and help us meet our goal to raise $27,000 to bring hands-on ecology experiences to Portland area's elementary school students! 

The Most with the Least


ECO is honored to be honored with a Portland Monthly magazine Light a Fire award for doing the Most with the Least. It's true, we've been stretching our time, talents and dollars for years! It's a way of life around here. And, we can all agree (can't we?), it's awfully nice when someone else notices how hard you're working! Thanks, Portland Monthly. 

Read the article here!

What have we been working so hard to do over so many years? We're working to inspire elementary school students to be connected to the natural world; to recognize the world around them as valuable, as interesting, as amazing. We bring hands-on ecology lessons to students in their classrooms, and then we get those same students out in the world to see these ecological principles in action. And we're not only exploring while we're outside, ECO empowers young people to make lasting change in their communities through service-learning projects. And, each Program includes multiple lessons for the students, all of which align with national education standards.

By the end of this 2017-18 school year, ECO will have worked with more than 20,000 students. We're thinking that's pretty incredible! And we look forward to reaching more kids in the future. Every child deserves the opportunity to build a relationship with nature. ECO programs plant the love of nature as a seed in each student, and we hope and believe that these students will grow to be the environmental stewards, advocates and leaders of our future.

If you share these values too, consider supporting our work with a donation through the Willamette Week Give!Guide this season: www.giveguide.org/#eco. What is the Give!Guide? Read more about that here...