Columbia Gorge Youth Education

Columbia Riverkeeper works to engage, educate, and inspire the diverse communities of the Columbia River Gorge.

Through our education program we engage students and families in restoring a former industrial site to promote environmental education among diverse communities. As a place-based organization, the Nichols Natural Area, serves as our field-based classroom for students.

Over the last five years, Columbia Riverkeeper has continued to expand our relationship-building efforts to Latine communities with culturally specific outreach and engagement, The Nichols Natural Area project connects people to the river and each other in new ways.

The bilingual (English/Spanish) education program develops stewardship and a sense of belonging for participants, many of whom may not otherwise enjoy the Columbia River.

Program: Columbia Gorge Youth Education

The work: Every year Columbia Riverkeeper serves over 1000 students and community members through field-based and in-classroom curriculum. By engaging local schools, we reach over 40% Latine students. Students share their knowledge and accomplishments with their parents, and we hold community restoration events and work parties at the Nichols Natural Area where parents can get involved in this shared green space.

Status: Actively creating long-term stewardship in students and community members. The educational site, Nichols Natural Area, is located on the Columbia River in a prominent and rapidly-developing area of Hood River. Our goal is to go beyond a “field trip” and inspire students to feel connected to the park and share it with their community. Unlike most camps or field trips, the Nichols Natural Area has ongoing community participation (e.g. plantings, cleanups, and photo monitoring) where interested students can continue to participate with their families.

Inquiries: School Groups Contact Water Quality Director Lorri Epstein at