For all of you that know me, you know that there are few things more important to me than ensuring that not another generation goes by that doesn't connect to Mother Nature and understand her importance and role in every aspect of our lives, from clean air we breathe to the water we drink.
I will do everything in my power to ensure that not another single generation goes by downplaying the effects of climate change and the role we humans play in it.
And one of the things that I'm proudest of is getting involved with Ecology in Classrooms & Outdoors (ECO).
ECO is a non-profit based in Portland, Oregon who's sole mission is to connect kids to nature. We do this through both in-classroom educational programs as well as in-the-field service learning programs.
Through this year, I've had the chance to join them on several outings, in several classrooms, at several events, and see what and how something as simple as holding a snail can make a lasting impact on a kid's life and psyche.
And playing testament to the voracity and resonance of ECO's mission is what has happened this year.
Let me explain.
Over the course of the past 13 years, ECO has already helped bring over 20,000 K-5 kids to nature.
Most of which come from underserved neighborhoods and many of whom, despite the fact that they live less than an hour from the nation's highest concentration of waterfalls, have never seen a waterfall before in their lives!
Well, we find that completely unacceptable (and borderline criminal!!).
So as of August of this year, ECO has absorbed three successful similarly-aligned programs: Green Schoolhouse, Dig-In, and Siuslaw Stream Team. What this means is that the ECO reach expands past Portland metro schools, all the way to the coast. Furthermore, we're now able to reach further than the K-5 students that have traditionally been our demographic. Due to these acquisitions, our hands-on ecology educational outreach programs are now in front of middle and high school students and even include after-school and summer camp programs.
Needless to say, it's been a pretty monumental year for ECO, and we couldn't have done it without the support of those who have science and education and our environment high on their agendas and list of importance.
Furthermore, as a non-profit, we can't do any of this without the support of the public.
It's because of you that we have been able to grow at the clip that we have, and provide the tools necessary to keep science and nature at the forefront of our future generations' curiosities.
Which brings me to the inevitable ask - every year, Portland's weekly, the Willamette Week, puts out their annual 'Give!Guide,' which highlights some of the region's most promising and influential non-profits, and creates campaigns to help bring attention to them. So while we’re running around comparing menus for the holidays and figuring out what friendsgiving we’re going to attend and whether I should buy this in black or blue or an L or an M (or an XL washed once…) or a 44” instead of a 41”, the Give!Guide is a reminder to keep those less fortunate than us in at least a corner of our minds.
And for the fifth year in a row, ECO is prouder than proud to be selected as one of those organizations represented. And what we are able to raise through the Give!Guide each year is a very big reason we are able to do what we do.
But the biggest reason - you (and your generous wallets…).
Literally, 10 dollars.
is enough to bring a future ecologist, scientist, park ranger, river guide, outfitter or conservationist into the program.
One month's worth of Netflix.
Two days’ worth of fancy shmancy pumpkin spicy ‘coffee’ concoctions.
So if you're looking for some last-minute tax deductions and want to SAVE THE WORLD at the same time, drop a dollar (or two, or 10, or fifty) into ECO's coffers.
You can even give on someone else’s behalf (which makes a perfect gift for the nature-lovers in your circles).
You, your kids, and your kids' kids futures depend on it.
So here’s that link again: www.giveguide.org/#eco
And for a 360 glimpse into what we do at ECO, here’s a little video produced by Superswell VR. Grab a headset and join us, or drag around on your phone or browser to see everything in all directions at all times.