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Oregon Becomes First State to Allocate Funding for Outdoor Education

Oregon voters approved Measure 99, a measure that makes Oregon the first state to allocate state funding for the purpose of outdoor education.

For a half-century, Oregon has run a unique program called the Outdoor School that allows middle school students to participate in camps across the state to learn more about both Oregon’s impressive outdoor landscape and the outdoors in general.

With student participation in the program dwindling year after year, legislators decided to give voters the choice of whether or not to allocate $22 million from the state lottery Economic Development Fund to give all students in the state a chance to participate.

"Kids come alive—curious and engaged—when they get outdoors. Outdoor School is a smart, time-tested, hands-on science-based week of solid, effective education. Breathing fresh air, surrounded by wonder, collaborating with other kids builds confidence and self-sufficiency as kids learn to value and make responsible choices about our incredible natural resources,” the pro-Measure 99 site reads.

Supporters reference studies that show the Outdoor School program increases students’ confidence, self-esteem, and even STEM (Science, Technology, Math and Engineering) skills.

If there is left over funding after all 5th- and 6th-grade Oregon students have the opportunity to attend the Outdoor School Program, the measure allows for excess funding to be used to support other outdoor education initiatives in state schools.

Opponents of the measure argued that the funding could be better used for other programs:

"Having an opportunity to be out in the woods and experience nature is valuable. No disagreement there. But we cannot rob other programs every time advocates organize for a cause and decide they know what's best for everyone —if someone else will pay for it,” said Senator Betsy Johnson in an opinion piece on

65 percent of voters, however, agreed with supporters, and the measure was passed.

Nicole Gorman, Senior Education World Contributor


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