RVOEP History and Mission
The story of the Redwood Valley Outdoor Education Project begins with a vision from our community – a vision of a vital legacy to leave to future generations. A legacy of the earth – its forests, waters, and other resources, along with its wild residents that depend so much on thoughtful human stewardship. And a vision of the children, our future citizens, connecting with a piece of the earth to learn about and practice such stewardship. This vision began with Spencer Brewer and was spearheaded by Jennifer Harris, a retired Ukiah High science teacher, neighbors of a special piece of property on Pinecrest Drive in Redwood Valley. They saw potential in land that the school district was then using as a dump for contaminated dirt. They inspired others to join up with the project and devote hours of volunteer time to transform this property into an outdoor education center.
In 1995, amidst talk of selling this 45 acre parcel of oak woodland acquired by the Ukiah Unified School District decades earlier, this group of dedicated citizens presented to the school board a proposal to establish an environmental education program at the site. The board approved of the concept as long as it required no district funds and did not establish permanent structures. And with this approval, the group of citizens forged ahead, sharing its vision, gathering community donations and volunteers to leverage successful grant applications. A parking lot replaced the district’s contaminated soil dump, trails were blazed, benches and tables constructed, and compost toilets built so that in the spring of 1997 the first students arrived.
The project got a tremendous boost in 2001 when an anonymous member of the community came forward with a generous donation to pay for a credentialed teacher to staff the program and funds were found to include an assistant. This has allowed each visiting class to get an intimate connection with the place and its hands on programs. Fundraising is also done each year to raise funds to pay for bussing students, so that all interested teachers can bring their class. Currently almost all the elementary students in the Ukiah Unified School district visit the RVOEP and have follow up visits in their classroom.
The project received another incredible boost in 2015 when Ukiah Unified began funding salaries for RVOEP’s teacher and paraprofessional. This is a generous effort of support towards the program, and is very beneficial to RVOEP’s financial picture each year.