Coming soon….A Mountain Field Campus for Local Youth

High 5 Grant brings SOLE one step closer to providing an enclosed and permanent location from which to educate and empower underserved rural youth through the transformational experiential and outdoor education programs it provides.

June 24th, 2019 — Underserved rural youth in Bonner County and beyond will soon have a Mountain Field Campus where they will be able to explore and learn about their winter wildlands and the greater Lake Pend Oreille Watershed.  Leading the charge is Sandpoint-based, Selkirk Outdoor Leadership & Education (SOLE). SOLE’s effort has been generously supported by various local and regional partners, including the recent addition of the Blue Cross of Idaho Foundation for Health and the City of Sandpoint with a  grant award of $28, 413.64. Through support from the High Five Community Transformation Grant, SOLE is one step closer to completing a major $70,000 fundraising campaign to establish a Mountain Field Campus at Schweitzer Mountain Resort. This will serve as a hub to educate and empower our underserved local area youth through outdoor physical activity.  

A SnowSchool Experience program student studies snow science to include completing a snow pit profile and studying crystallography.

“It is our vision that this community multi-use facility will serve as an outdoor learning center to educate and empower our underserved local area youth through purposeful place-based experiential and outdoor education programs which utilize mountain-based outdoor recreation as the mode of travel.” ~ Dennison Webb, MA | Founder & Executive Director 

In addition to the previously mentioned partners, SOLE has garnered support from local business, agencies, and corporations to ensure that our local area youth have affordable access to the intentional experiential education programs that SOLE offers.  These partners have included, Schweitzer Mountain Resort, Bonner General Health, Kochava, Evans Brothers Coffee Roasters, The William Wishnick Foundation, Panhandle Alliance for Education, Innovia Foundation, Equinox Foundation, and Lake Pend Oreille School District, along with the contributions of many generous personal donors. With continued support, SOLE’s will not only reach their fundraising goal, but they will also be able to actualize their vision of providing affordable and accessible experiential education programming for underserved local youth throughout the year.  You can get involved and learn more about this community effort by contacting SOLE at info@soleexperiences.org | 928.351.7653 or by making a tax-deductible donation to SOLE’s Mountain Field Campus Campaign here.

Students snowshoe with their Field Instructor Team to into their winter wildlands.

Since 2010, SOLE has been focused on providing intentional and transformational experiential education programs for youth in the Sandpoint community, and beyond. SOLE’s programs have reached well-over 3,000 underserved rural youth, most notably through SOLE’s signature program – SnowSchool Experiences.  In partnership with the Boise-based nonprofit, the Winter Wildlands Alliance, SOLE’s SnowSchool Experience program provides novel, on the snow, hands-on outdoor experiences, where students are able to explore and learn in their winter wildlands through lessons related to snow science, winter ecology, conservational literacy, avalanche awareness, and outdoor living and travel skills.   While there are 66 SnowSchool sites nationwide, SOLE’s SnowSchool Experience program at Schweitzer was recognized as a National Flagship SnowSchool Site in 2017, becoming only the second site to receive this designation. In addition to this prestigious recognition, SOLE  earned regional accolades in 2017, when it’s SnowSchool Experience program received an Innovation Award from the Idaho Nonprofit Center for its innovative approach to education, specifically its novel E-STEM place-based experiential education curriculum.  

SOLE’s SnowSchool Experience program receives the 2017 Innovation Award from the Idaho Nonprofit Center. Shown here is SOLE’s Executive Director (Dennison Webb, MA, Center Left); SOLE’s Education Advisor and Board Member (Joy Jansen, PhD, Center Right), and partners PAFE Board Member (Geraldine Lewis, Left) and Innovia Foundation staff member (Molly Sanchez, Right)

Learn more about SOLE’s SnowSchool Experience program by watching the video below and going to SOLE’s SnowSchool Experience program webpage here.

SOLE’s SnowSchool Experience program which was highlighted in the 2017-2018 Winter Wildlands Backcountry Film Festival. This was the first time a SnowSchool program was highlighted in the world-renowned film festival which makes over 100 stops world-wide.

Initially, The Blue Cross of Idaho Foundation for Health awarded a Community Transformation Grant to the City of Sandpoint to fund projects that encourage healthy eating and physical activity for children.  The $250,000 grant was awarded from High Five, the Foundation’s childhood obesity initiative. The allocation of the grant funds was determined by the Bonner County Coalition for Health, which partnered with the Foundation to identify projects that supported either increased physical activity and access to healthy, affordable foods.  SOLE is extremely grateful to have been selected as one of the recipients of the High Five Grant. 

Stay tuned for SOLE’s progress in establishing the Mountain Field Campus at Schweitzer Mountain and news regarding how the local youth are utilizing and benefiting from it.

SOLE-Ful Seven Series: An Interview with Erik Olson

img_4549Erik lives in Sandpoint with his wife and 2 kids, a daughter in 1st grade and a son in 2nd. As an active member of this community, Erik is Principal of Farmin Stidwell Elementary School (where all the 5th graders go to SnowSchool) and has been a member of SOLE’s board for a couple years with a strong passion for the outdoors.

 

MW: What brought you to SOLE?
EO: I moved here from Greenbay, Wisconsin, and I grew up where NOLS is (Lander, Wyoming). We used to call them NOLS-ys; they were the tree huggers! When I was asked by Joy to be a part of SOLE, strictly because I was part of the school community, I was staggered by the amount of kids who had never been on Schweitzer, so giving that opportunity to the kids was awesome. It’s interesting too that SOLE has this unique opportunity to give this to the kids, and I like seeing the level of engagement that our kids had with SnowSchool.

MW: What is your favorite part of being in this community? (Sandpoint/N. ID)
EO: I grew up in the outdoors, in the Windriver Range near Lander, WY, and I had outdoor opportunities growing up. I would drive up the mountain and ride my mountain bike whenever I wanted, but the mountains weren’t right there; you had to drive 2 hours to get to them. So I decided with my wife and kids that we wanted to be where we had the opportunities that are available here and now we take advantage as much as we can.

img_4376MW: What is your favorite Outdoor Experience? Most memorable?
EO: I have two, I was the tripping director at a YMCA camp and I was in charge of the offsite trips. Through that experience we had a lot of foreign staffers and I connected with this fellow from Australia, a crazy Australian climber. I was pretty into climbing at the time and growing up in Lander, it was a huge climbing community. He wanted to go climbing and so we road tripped and drove to Devil’s Tower. We slept in my car and then climbed it. It’s technical climbing but I trusted him so much; it took us about 6 hours to climb, 8 hours total. It was a huge experience that I just loved.
The other one was I was involved in scouting, and we had a great, active Boy Scout group. Our leader would give us so many opportunities to go on hikes. I was young, and I had the opportunity to go The Boundary Waters, and it was awesome. We canoed forever.

MW: What is your passion in the outdoors? Favorite recreational activity?
EO: I like it all! Moving here I definitely have taken up skiing, my family we weren’t really avid skiers but took it up. I do a lot of trail running, and from time to time mountain biking. In WY it is cold so in the winter we hunker down, so it’s a nice change of pace. The whole family skis now!

MW: What are you most excited for this season?
EO: I definitely love the SnowSchool piece, I am glad the district is picking up those loose ends because it has been so positive in this community and for those kids. I love that SOLE is getting exposure not only in this community nationally and beyond (because of our film SnowSchool: Exploring our Winter Wildlands being selected as a finalist in the Winter Wildlands Backcountry Film Festival)

img_4645MW: What has been your favorite SOLE experience so far?
EO: Picking up trash! Kidding. No, my kids have been in the Junior Naturalist Program for a couple summers, and when they come home from that experience they want to go back. My daughter was 5 and she didn’t want to go, but after three days she wanted more, and ended up going to the week long program later.
I also love the Backcountry Film Festival. It’s a good chance to expose SOLE and its mission to the public.

MW: Do you have a favorite Deschutes beer? Which one and why?
EO: Mirror Pond Pale Ale is pretty good. Inversion. Fresh Squeezed. It’s all good! I am an IPA guy, so any IPA I am good with.

 

Get to know Erik and the other board members at our SOLE-Ful Meet & Greet: A Pre-Backcountry Film Festival Event. It will be a great opportunity to see what SOLE has lined up for the winter, a chance at a ‘sneak peak’ of our film SnowSchool: Exploring our Winter Wildlands (to be featured in the international Backcountry Film Festival), as well as a look into the phenomenal silent auction and raffle prizes, all while enjoying some tasty brews from Deschutes Brewery. See you there!

 

Maegan Ward
Outreach Coordinator | Field Instructor
maegan.ward@soleexperiences.org

Make Your Classroom A Natural Learning Environment!

IMG_5381It’s that time of year, buds are bursting and songbirds are doing their thing! As such, Selkirk Outdoor Leadership & Education (SOLE) is very excited to announce that we will be bringing intentional place-based experiential education to educators and youth leaders through our NEW Stewardship Experience SM program on the Clark Fork Delta and beyond!  To do so, we will be collaborating with Idaho Fish and Game, the University of Idaho, and other agencies and organizations to coordinate, design, and facilitate novel hands-on, boots-on-the-ground programming in this diverse wild landscape!  These unique programming opportunities will foster the ability for 4th – 12th grade youth to develop sound academic connections, an affinity for our natural world, and a sense of belonging – SOLE’s primary goals and objectives for this program.

All curricula will be linked to the current mitigation effort and the diverse ecosystems which exist on the Clark Fork Delta and other locales.  There students will be able to explore and learn through our Stewardship Experience SM experiential curricula related to flora and fauna, water quality monitoring, and service-learning.  When registering for Stewardship Experience SM with SOLE, clients can choose one specific programming element of this SOLE Experience SM or a rich interdisciplinary program like The Confluence Project.  Whatever you desire we will strive to meet your needs!

Learn more about this intentional place-based experiential education program by going here.  If you are ready to register look at our schedule here to see what dates are already booked and/or click on the “Register Now” button below to get started!  

 

Register Now !