Grant Money to Allow IMESD to Make Improvements to Outdoor School

Students from the Milton-Freewater Unified School District explore river habitat at Outdoor School in May. (Photo courtesy of IMESD)

The InterMountain Education Service District (IMESD) will make improvements valued at $30,000 at its Outdoor School location, Buck Creek, this summer.

The agency received a $20,000 grant from the Gray Family Foundation. The IMESD will contribute $10,000 worth of labor to accomplish several projects.

The biggest project is abatement of asbestos-containing materials in the cookhouse, including flooring and countertops. The cookhouse will also be painted, and new appliances will be installed. Other summer improvement projects are construction of new campfire benches and picnic tables, a new water heater in the shower house, grounds/brush clean up and new signage.

“Everybody loves the historic Outdoor School buildings, but there comes a time when deferred maintenance really needs to be addressed,” said Larry Glaze, IMESD’s director of operations and facilities. “Accomplishing these projects will really update and improve the facility.”

School districts throughout the region have been taking part in Outdoor School at Buck Creek since the early 1970s. The IMESD has leased the 654-acre Outdoor School property from the U.S. Forest Service since 2001. Pendleton’s Kiwanis Club held the property lease for the first few decades. The location can accommodate up to 120 students at a time and is used by several eastern Oregon school districts. In spring 2019, almost 500 students participated in Outdoor School there.

The Gray Family Foundation is located in Portland, and “is founded on the belief that fostering an understanding and appreciation of our natural world is a crucial part of a child’s education.”