On this first day of spring,w e are easily moved to be thankful for this time of year, grateful that winter is over.  This is the time of year for hope, outdoor endeavors and recreation, gardening, for blessed warmth.

Located in Hood River, The Columbia Gorge Ecology Institute was created in 1997 and we are celebrating our 16th. year of providing place based education to underserved, rural children here in the Columbia River Gorge.

One of our long sought (and elusive) dreams of our organization has been procuring a “home,” an environmental learning center to serve our entire mid-Columbia region.  It is hard to believe that there is no such place in the Gorge.  Hood River Middle School students participating in overnight Outdoor School must travel more than one hour to a center not even located in Oregon, Brooks Memorial State Park located 18 miles north of Goldendale.

We have been tantalizingly close to signing the deal for a center, and during the past year have been working diligently and hopefully to accomplish our goal, focusing on a spectacular piece of property south of Hood river.  We don’t know whether this parcel will become our center, but we are in it for the long run.  Having a place where children can come to be instilled wtih a sense of wonder and place, while learning about ecological concepts and performing scientific research and habitat restoration is too important not to pursue.

We hope we can pull it off, as a gift from us to generations of Hood River students, for all of us who need the solace and peace that the natural world brings. ~

“The black earth is becoming a verdant garden; the

deserts and mountains are teeming with red flowers;

from the borders of the wilderness the tall grasses are

standing like advance guards before the cypress and

jessamine trees; while the birds are singing among

the rose branches like the angels in the highest

heavens, announcing the glad-tidings of the approach

of that spiritual spring, and the sweet music of their

voices is causing the real essence of all things to move and quiver.”

Abdu’l Baha