Kris Elliott, Outdoor School program leader, and Charissa Jones, outreach and inclusion coordinator, join Anita Azarenko to share the work they are doing to make outdoor school accessible for all eligible 5th and 6th graders across the state.  

With a recently updated vision, mission and organizational “why,” equity remains at the forefront. Transparency is an essential characteristic as the Outdoor School program builds equity, diversity and inclusion awareness both internally and externally.  

Charissa shares a few of the projects Outdoor School is engaging in to help outdoor school programs and providers build equity into their programming. 

Please comment: Anita wants to know how you safely shared the holidays with family and friends. Staying connected is important to our well-being and we can learn from each other for future, safe holiday celebrations. Happy holidays! 

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13 thoughts on “Outdoor School: Building an equity-focused organization

  1. Instead of having one meal with parents and friends, I hosted Thanksgiving Day with parents, Friday evening leftovers with one friend, and again hosted leftovers with a couple of friends on Saturday. I got to see everyone in a safe way and didn’t have to cook too much more — or too many more dishes — than originally planned. Even sent leftovers home with everyone!

    • Thank you Ann,

      Sounds wonderful!

      We had an unintended but positive experience that Mom, sister and brother-in-law had leftovers to take home from the dinner at our home!!

  2. While we will connect virtually with far-off family on the holidays themselves, we are also intentionally scheduling time to disconnect. We are renting a house for a couple nights that has no cell service or internet. We plan to read books, play games and explore new trails.

    • That sounds wonderful Janet. Reduce the external noise to also hear and quiet the internal voice.

      Take care.

  3. For my family, choosing safety meant we cancelled our planned drive to Salt Lake City to be with family. With the spike in COVID cases, including truly alarming numbers in Utah, we decided to stay home. We also chose not to host and eat with our local family in Oregon, as we usually do, to protect my elderly mom. Instead, we ate with our family friends and their kids who are in our “school pod”- their kids and our kids spend 2 days/week together, and they are the one family we see socially during COVID. This ended up being different, but very enjoyable. We brought food, they made a turkey they had raised themselves, and we ended up having a lovely evening! We missed our families, but grew closer with friends in our community. For the rest of the weekend, we tiled our basement floor- truly relaxing.

  4. We designed our own Turkey Trot for Thanksgiving morning, joining with family outdoors and masked, to walk the Tillikum Bridge and then view and visit all of the amazing murals and artwork on the boarded up buildings in downtown Portland. Later we played Loteria online with family out of town who we’d normally be seeing in person.

    • Dear LeAnn,

      What great ideas!

      Connecting with your surroundings and the natural world can be so calming.

      Take care and have a safe and healthy holiday season!


  5. We had canceled our big gathering long ago, and with the surge in cases we cut down the family gathering too. I started the morning by going to church. Then I spent a few hours with my mom and a friend (mom’s roommate). We made our favorite traditional foods. We had a Zoom dinner with my brothers and their dinner companions. Later on we had a group Zoom with all the friends who usually gather together for the holiday. My friend who usually hosts the big group made cookies with her kids and pre-delivered them so we all had dessert “together.” The positive impacts were that I had a lot more leftovers than usual and no one got COVID. Thank you to OSU for the Zoom account!

    • Dear Wendy,

      Thank you for sharing. Sounds like a good day! I like the dessert idea. I am going to do the same with a pear dish that I have traditionally made and deliver it to three households.

      We had a similar experience- church; preparing the meal; Mom, sister and brother-in-law have dinner with us at the farm; more leftovers than normal!

      Now we’re trying to figure out our Zoom strategy for Christmas Eve the traditional gift opening time.

      Be safe and well- happy holidays.

  6. We organized our own virtual Fun Run with friends and family from London, Portland, Roseburg and Eugene. We all ran at the same time, took pictures afterward and those who could, joined together on a post run Zoom call.

    • What a great idea!!!! I think I am going to steal this idea- instead of a run, a walk. Hope for good weather.

      Happy holidays and be well.

  7. We cancelled our large family gathering but I still cooked that 19lb turkey and all the fixings and had fun delivering to my parents and some family members. We had a nice short outside visit wearing masks. AND I baked my first pies!

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