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: