Multnomah County: The Slough School Education program gets middle school students from Portland, Gresham, and Fairview schools out in the field to learn about the ecological systems located in their back yard.

Sometimes the right school and the right community-based nonprofit get together and magic happens. That is the alchemy that brews results every time the Slough School Education Program takes fifth through eighth graders from Portland, Gresham and Fairview schools out into the field. From learning about native plants and restoring local habitats to visiting wastewater treatment plants, students are immersed in the ecological systems of their own backyard. They’re brought up close and personal with the infrastructure which ties nature and civilization together, and gain an understanding of the critical issues involved.

This K-college education program of the Columbia Slough Watershed Council focuses on schools serving high poverty areas. Director Sheilagh Diez said, “The students we serve generally do not have a lot of experience getting outside. They may not have been raised in families that have the time or financial ability to get their kids out for a weekend and explore the natural world.”

Diez appreciates the Gray Family Foundation and their support. “It’s been a big part of Slough School for over five years, and it’s been so important to have that ongoing support for our mission. Because we serve an extremely poor population, we do not charge for our programs. This allows us to be much more creative and responsive to the needs of our community. Without the support of funders like the Gray Family there’s no way we could do the work we do and we are just incredibly grateful for that.”