Sustainability and Student Learning

lincoln student gardeners

We are fortunate to live in a community with many opportunities for students to learn about and be engaged in sustainability. Find out about the multiple ways students are learning about sustainability by exploring a variety of programs.

Active Transportation

Our award-winning Safe Routes to School and Walk and Bike to School Program support students and their families traveling to and from school with the goal of increasing active transportation and reducing the number of cars on the road. We are proud of our Bicycle Education program, which turned 20 years old in 2019! This week-long, hands-on program teaches all 5th-grade students bicycle safety laws and culminates with a neighborhood group bike ride. Volunteers are welcome!

Environmental Classes and Programs (secondary)

Advanced environmental science classes are offered to high school students, giving them the opportunity to undertake sustainability projects that have real-world impacts, such as establishing native tree arboretums, organizing Earth Day events, and advocating for a district-wide no idle policy which was adopted by the Corvallis School Board in 2014.

The Urban Farm is an educational program available to freshmen and sophomore students at College Hill where students manage all aspects of farm activities at a half-acre school-based farm from site planning and plant propagation to tending, harvesting and taking crops to market.

Field Trips

Students at all grade levels take field trips to parks, gardens, farms, the Coffin Butte Landfill, the Pacific Region Compost Facility, a recycling material recovery facility, water treatment facilities, Finley National Wildlife Refuge and Starker Forests to learn about our bio-region.

Local Food

Our school meal program sources nearly 25% of food purchases from local growers. Students at all elementary schools learn about the connection between sustainability and the food they eat through monthly Tasting Tables the Corvallis Environmental Center’s Classroom Food Adventures program providing experiential lessons that allow students to prepare fresh, local food. Nearly all schools have school gardens and/or a greenhouse. Many schools use these as learning laboratories for students. Volunteers are welcome!

Migratory Bird Habitat Study for Classrooms Across Borders

Students and staff at Lincoln and Garfield Elementary (both dual-language immersion schools) have partnered with the Institute for Applied Ecology, the Benton Soil and Water Conservation District, Finley National Wildlife Refuge, Greenbelt Land Trust, and the Marys River Watershed Council in an international exchange with schools and agencies in Mexico. The Willamette and Laja Rivers both support populations of birds migrating between the two countries. This dual-immersion English/Spanish program for third graders includes in-class and field trip inquiry-based lessons, facilitated by trained high school students. As part of this project, bilingual Corvallis high school students are mentors to the third graders, reinforcing ecological, language and cultural lessons.

Outdoor School and Salmon Watch

All 5th-grade students participate in a 3 day overnight camp at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI) Coastal Discovery Center in Newport or their Outdoor Science School at Hancock Field Station in eastern Oregon. The SalmonWatch program, run by the Benton Soil and Water Conservation District, teaches 5th-grade and 6th-grade students and all Urban Farm students how to be student scientists by learning about and monitoring the conditions of local creeks. It is also offered in Spanish. Volunteers are welcome!

Student Green Teams

Almost all schools have student green teams that play an important role in making their school more sustainable. Students conduct waste and water audits as well as energy patrols to conserve electricity. They also take on other projects under the supervision of each school’s Sustainability Leader. These additional efforts include raising student and staff awareness, encouraging walk-and-bike to school programs, working on school gardens, marking storm drains, collecting hard-to-recycle materials, monitoring composting efforts and more. These school green teams have achieved or are working on becoming certified as an Oregon Green School which enables them to attend an annual Summit to learn from other green schools across the state.

Other Community Opportunities

In partnership with the Corvallis Environmental Center, the Boys and Girls Club and the City of Corvallis’ WILD program, hundreds of students receive after-school environmental education learning opportunities.  OSU Extension works with several Corvallis schools providing programs such as 4-H Wildlife Stewards, Oregon Season Tracker, Food Heroes, Natural Resources Education, Nutrition Education and Outreach and the Oregon Environmental Literacy.