Forests make amazing classrooms

In Oregon, nearly 50 percent of our state's 61 million acres is forestland. Our forests supply renewable resources for lumber, paper and heating, along with jobs that support families and communities. They also provide us with an active playground and a quiet retreat.

Because we depend so profoundly on our forests, it’s important for Oregon students to understand not only how they work, but also how we are connected to them ecologically, economically and socially. Plus, using forests as a context for teaching can enrich student learning and extend it beyond the classroom walls.

To support forestry education in the field and the classroom, the Oregon Forest Resources Institute’s K-12 education programs provide curriculum materials, teacher professional development and field-trip opportunities. OFRI also supports and partners with a number of other organizations dedicated to forestry, environmental and natural resources education. 

For more information about grade-specific educational resources and field programs that teach students about Oregon’s forests, visit LearnForests.org.

K-12 Forest Education Resources:

Oregon Forest Literacy Plan

The Oregon Forest Literacy Plan, developed by OFRI in collaboration with a diverse, statewide group of forest resource specialists, educators and academics, offers a set of guidelines aimed to help K-12 educators teach about Oregon’s forests. It gives teachers in our forest-rich state a conceptual framework tied to state standards, with classroom-tested curricula and lesson plans to aid student learning about forests and natural resources.

Learn more about the plan.

Classroom and field programs

There are more than 20 forest-related programs, field trip destinations and other resources available for K-12 students in Oregon. Most of these programs are free, and bus transportation reimbursement is available for field trips.

Learn more about forestry education programs offered across the state.

Talk About Trees

Talk About Trees is a classroom program supported by OFRI that uses forest artifacts, displays and hands-on activities to deliver an interactive presentation about forestry and Oregon’s forests. It is one of many free forestry education programs available to Oregon students across the state.

Oregon Garden Natural Resources Education Program

The Oregon Garden Natural Resources Education Program provides students in fourth through sixth grades a hands-on approach to natural resources education by offering free field trips to the Rediscovery Forest, an OFRI-managed teaching forest at The Oregon Garden in Silverton. While visiting the forest, students participate in engaging educational activities to learn about topics such as forest ecology, food webs, forest health and wildlife habitat.

Teacher professional development

OFRI and the Oregon Natural Resources Education Program at Oregon State University offer professional development workshops for teachers to learn about Oregon’s forests, wildlife and water. The workshops provide teachers with curricula, strategies and resources for engaging students in forest education.

Learn more about forest-related teacher professional development opportunities.

Educational publications and videos

OFRI offers a broad array of K-12 publications as well as classroom posters and videos to supplement its forest education programs. These serve as handy reference guides for teachers and help students better understand Oregon’s forests. Through full-color illustrations and age-appropriate language, OFRI’s educational materials reveal both basic and fascinating facts about forests, wildlife, plants, habitats and scientific resources.

Order these free publications.

Forest Fact Break: Forest Types

This 90-second animated video looks at forest types in Oregon. It offers a look at the top five forest types in Oregon. How many do you recognize? This video is part of OFRI’s Forest Fact Breaks series, which uses bold animated graphics, sound effects and narration to teach about natural resource topics in a fun, easy-to-understand way.

Bus transportation

OFRI recognizes the effectiveness of field studies and wishes to support classroom teachers’ forest education efforts. OFRI may be able to provide transportation funds, on a case-by-case basis, to classes whose opportunities to participate in such forestry-related studies are otherwise limited.

Apply online for bus transportation reimbursement.