The Ecology Institute’s SECRETS program has served regional communities since 1997. From a handful of classes when it began, the SECRETS program now reaches almost every 5th grade classroom in a 2000 square mile service area and is known as a model for place-based education across the nation.
In addition, our Science in Action program offers middle school students the opportunity to engage in real-world field research with professional ecologists and conservation scientists and our Gorge Explorers program provides internships in conservation stewardship and community service for high school students. We continue to explore new opportunities to expand the number of and enhance the quality of place-based, hands-on science education in the Gorge.
Over the years, the Ecology Institute has engaged over 15,000 youth through in-school and out-of-school experiences of their local places.
These programs provide an in-depth perspective on local landscapes while teaching scientific principles of ecology and supporting critical thinking, problem solving, decision-making, and local stewardship.
It is one of the organization’s goals to ensure at least four in-depth contacts with regional youth along their K-12 educational journey.