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Mission and History

IslandWood is a nationally recognized outdoor learning center located across Puget Sound from Seattle’s urban center. IslandWood's mission is to provide exceptional learning experiences and to inspire lifelong environmental and community stewardship. Each year, more than 25,000 people participate in IslandWood’s programs on our 250-acre campus and in communities throughout the region.

Since IslandWood began operating outdoor education programs for young people in 2002, the organization has maintained a commitment to serving participants who are least likely to have access to the outdoors and to high quality environmental education. IslandWood serves a diverse population of 4th - 6th grade students from urban and suburban neighborhoods in the Puget Sound area. Though most participants live in Seattle, they come from Africa, Asia, Europe, and South America, and speak at least twenty different languages. Many have never had a residential outdoor experience, or spent extended time in nature. IslandWood helps address this issue by giving students of all backgrounds a positive experience in the outdoors and the inspiration to make a difference in the environment, their communities, and themselves.

Our Programs

School Overnight Program
The School Overnight Program provides hands-on learning experiences in nature that spark enthusiasm for science, strengthen team and individual leadership skills, and inspire environmental and community stewardship for 4th-6th grade students and their teachers. School visits from IslandWood graduate instructors connect the residential experience to students’ classrooms and neighborhoods to enable a holistic, enduring learning experience.

Urban Programs
IslandWood’s Urban Programs connect school science curriculum to watersheds and other natural ecosystems near schools and in the communities where students live. Additional training empowers teachers to lead science investigations outdoors without direct support from IslandWood.

Graduate Program in Education for Environment and Community
Through a 10-month residency on IslandWood’s campus, graduate students guide outdoor learning experiences for elementary school students participating in the School Overnight Program and engage in independent study projects while earning credits toward a Master’s degree in Education from the University of Washington.

Graduate Program in Urban Environmental Education
IslandWood's Urban Environmental Education graduate program, offered in partnership with Antioch University Seattle, prepares educational leaders to understand how and why cities work the way they do, to help youth explore urban ecosystems, and to build capacity to create thriving, sustainable communities.

Outcomes

Students who participate in the School Overnight Program are steeped in exploration of the natural world, giving real-life meaning to academic learning while deepening their understanding of the natural world. Our interdisciplinary curriculum combines ecosystem science with community building in safe yet challenging adventures that cultivate stewardship.

  • 80% of School Overnight Program participants say their relationship with nature has changed and 57% say they are more comfortable in nature.

  • Environmental content knowledge increases by up to 38% as a result of the School Overnight Program.

  • 94% of teachers reported the School Overnight Program increased student understanding of science and ecosystems

  • 87% of teachers reported they were more excited to teach science

  • 81% of parents reported they will take their children outside more