Thank you Cabela’s Outdoor Fund!

Thank you Cabela’s Outdoor Fund for our grant of $1,300 for fishing and archery equipment for our Outdoor High School (now called the Twin Rivers Charter School). Twin Rivers provides a way for Lane County students to earn a full high school diploma through an outdoor oriented curriculum.  Last year the school served 30 students, although this year we are up to 45 students enrolled.

Four times a year, the entire school goes on a week-long camping trip, and every other week students spend outside, tackling important conservation projects and participating in field science. This equipment provided so much for the students, to help them grow and develop to be caring, responsible adults.


Fishing. We went fishing on both spring spikes, in May and June, as well as opportunities during field education weeks throughout the year. About 20 students had fishing licenses and fished with us during trips. For the spike camping trips, we spent eight days on the coast, and another five days in central Oregon.

As soon as we entered the field with all the fishing gear, the kids were hooked. Through fishing, students were able to learn and demonstrate properly cast technique, proper bait selection and use of lures, locate prime fish habitat, proper fish identification, how to cast, how to set the drag, how to set the hook, how to reel in fish, and how to land a fish. Many already had experience with fishing, and some even their own gear, but by adding fishing gear to our arsenal of equipment, we broadened the spectrum of learning for every student involved.

The ones with experience suddenly became the experts, even more so than most of their teachers. They got to rise to role of leader helping others understand the technique, rules and etiquette surrounding this ancient art. The ones who had never fished before experienced the thrill of patience paying off; the tug of the pole as one finally lures a fish out of the depths and onto a hook. Once the excitement of the catch had worn off, the anticipation of the meal began to sink in. The students learned how to cleanly kill a fish, and learned the importance and deliciousness of getting back to camp and immediately preparing the catch.

More importantly, we have rarely seen bigger smiles on our student’s faces than catching a fish for the first time, or when helping a friend catch their first fish. Youth learned skills that they can use to begin looking out for themselves.





first-fish camping-fish-roast


Archery. The archery materials really hit the mark as teaching tools. We taught two archery electives.  There were nine students that participated in archery classes, taught for eight weeks in April and May, five days a week every other week. We also had opportunities for all students to participate in archery a couple times a month during field education weeks, so a total of 30 students participated in archery, nine more intensely.

Once they had caught the bug, we had a group of students who regularly asked to be supervised during lunch so they could shoot more. In addition to our regular classes we scheduled time for students to practice their skills during our field education weeks, which was often a highlight. This time allowed for more experienced students to help teach others, and for all students to get to see improvement in their abilities.





archery lesson


Benefit of Grant Activities. This grant, and these materials may not seem like much to donate to a school, but they have changed lives. They have allowed “city kids” to broaden their horizons and understand the importance and grace of nature. They have taught students how to be leaders and teachers. They have instilled a sense of responsibility and respect for others.  They have helped turn students into citizens who care about something.  Thank you again for your support.

Twin Rivers Charter School

As students spend the summer hours relishing in the absence of academia, the school itself has been hard at work transitioning to its new identity as Twin Rivers Charter School (TRCS). Making the shift from a private alternative educational institution formerly known as Outdoor High School (ODS) to a charter school, TRCS will be opening its doors to a more expansive student body this year.

The transition to a charter school model allows for TRCS to maintain its alternative education roots while providing an equal enrollment opportunity for interested students in the 4J district. In addition to the administrative changes the school is undertaking, the building is also receiving a light makeover to better serve the growing student population. Returning students will find that old walls have been torn down and new walls have been built, more study nooks are being incorporated in most classrooms, and new lighting fixtures are on their way to better see the student’s eager, shining faces.

TRCS functions as a team-based, hands-on, outdoor learning institution. Students prepare for entering the workplace through a combination of in-class instruction, field-based studies, habitat restoration projects and camping trips. In addition to standard academic curricula, such as math, science, language arts and social studies, the TRCS curriculum also includes conservation, resource management, life skills and team building. Through these experiences students learn the skills required to be successful in the next stages of their life, be it entering the workforce or attending college.

As the school year approaches and the thought of academia begins to loom in student’s minds, they can also look forward to a unique year full of adventure and growth.



Students de-bark logs as a part of a trail building project at Spencer Butte Challenge Course.



Students visit Sahalie Falls during a field education week to better understand watersheds.


An AmeriCorps member helps a student dissect a squid during Biology class.


So take the photographs and still frames in your mind
Hang it on a shelf of good health and good time

The year has officially come to a close. ODS is no more, and the birth of Twin Rivers begins now. Before we officially close this chapter of our lives, let us embrace them with a trip down memory lane, assisted with some photos albums of the year.

Spring Spikes:


Team Cookie

Recreation Spikes:

Dante & Kyle Rec Spike

Mermaids Rec Spike

Team Fuego Rec Spike

Odds ‘n’ ends

Spencer’s Butte Challenge Course, June 13

Field Education Weeks

Odd bobs at ODS

We hope to see many of you back next year, for the next chapter in the adventure. Until then have a wonderful summer.



Spring Learning

With spring solidly underway we have been busy outdoors.  We have already had four jam-packed Field Education weeks since the new year. To supplement our outdoor experiences we have secured grants and donations allowing us to purchase some new equipment. Fishing poles and tackle were included in some of our new purchases. This not only provides students with the equipment to go fishing, but also an opportunity to learn about fishing-rod maintenance, such as how to spool a spinning reel as seen above.

We would like to thank the Cabela’s Outdoor Fund which provided us the funding to purchase the fishing and archery equipment.

Fishing Feb. 4


In addition to fishing students have been learning about archery, thanks to new equipment purchased from a grant for Cabela’s.


Our learning goals have also included the concept of sustainability. We put this into practice by learning about sustainable building practices. Students went to Moon Mountain to practice surveying and choose a spot to build a house. They then came back to ODS, designed and built models of homes, taking into account features such as passive solar heating. House building Feb. 2

In addition to building skills at ODS we have also been venturing into the community and surrounding environment.  We visited the U.S. Calvary and American Indian Museum in Blue River, and learned about the cultural history of the United States from the museum’s owner, Ron Miner, who has been collective war paraphernalia since the age of seven.  His wife Coho, of Blackfoot-Cree heritage, has been collecting Native Indian items that display the details of the life of her ancestors. 

MuseumDeonne                                                                                                                    Photo by Deonne

After our journey to the museum, we ventured slightly farther out for a brief afternoon at Sahalie Falls.


                                                                                                                     Photo by Deonne

Sahalie Sahalie2  Sahaliesnow  Slightly closer to home, we also ventured to Leaburg dam several times for fishing, hatchery viewing, and even a dam tour by EWEB. At the tour students learned about converting kinetic energy to electric power via water, and a little more about the long history of the dam.FishingLeaburg DamLeaburgDam

The tours didn’t stop there. We also learned about the buzz at Glory Bee, getting to see their production line and storage facilities. After the tour we had a grand time perusing the gift shop and sampling honey sticks. Some kids even got to visit a local farm to witness the gamboling baby goats.Feb 16-19 Field Ed (31)Baby goats!                                                                                                Photo courtesy of Deonne

We have also been working on our survival skills, delving into the snowy landscape to building snow shelters as seen above. We may have also done some sledding, because how can you not? Feb 16-19 Field Ed (9)Feb 16-19 Field Ed (12) Feb 16-19 Field Ed (7)Our survival skills lessons included the practicality of self-tracking. We blindfolded several students, and had them find their way back to the bus after being led into the woods by their classmates and teachers.Feb 16-19 Field Ed (33) Blindfolded

No Field Education week would be complete without some work. We have been to Hendricks Park, Spencer’s Butte Challenge Course, Mt. pisgah and Short Mountain Landfill. At the Short Mountain Landfill wetland mitigation site we planted native seedlings grown in our own Native Nursery. Exploration of the nearby wetlands and surrounding environment was an educational culmination to a morning of work. We also worked hard on our photo shoots for potential Band Album art. The bands photographed are…Feb 16-19 Field Ed (15)Dance Evolution

Feb 16-19 Field Ed (27)The Muddy-Water Waders

Feb 16-19 Field Ed (26)The Blue Brothers in Gone Muddin’




Field Education

As the weather gets chillier and wetter, our schedule changes from the beginning of the year. With our first two Spike’s under our belts, we transition to our Field Education weeks, alternating between time in the classroom and time in the field.

Each week of Field Education the students spend 2-3 days on a work site around Eugene. Thus far we have spent our field education weeks working at the Spencer Butte Challenge course ( as seen below), and Hendricks Park.

IMG_2927            Work site activities can include trail maintenance,

IMG_2913 debarking and splitting logs,

IMG_2919moving logs to line trails, and much more. The students learn the skills required for any sort of work environment (strong work ethic, taking responsibility for your actions, being prepared), and help the greater community.

In addition to the work site, students spend the remaining days exploring. This  includes physically adventuring into various pockets around Eugene, from rivers and mountain tops, to Taxidermy shops and BowTech.


We ventured West to explore the rivers where Wild Salmon were still spawning. Several salmon were spotted around Whittaker Creek, included a pair of fighting males.


A group of students even went Chantrell hunting, collecting this rich bounty in just a hour.

IMG_2995 Students hiked up to the top of Spencer’s Butte to see the sights.


Some exploration was closer to home, such as this venture up to Moon Mountain where students dabbled in the art of camouflage…IMG_3078

…and fire making. The wet and windy conditions proved a challenge, but these students persevered, carefully slicing away dry tinder, and were rewarded with a small flame before it was time for lunch.

IMG_2934IMG_2946 IMG_2976IMG_2954 Students at the taxidermist shop got a full tour of the facilities, and got to see all stages of the process.IMG_3094

Some students went on a tour of the BowTech facilities as well, seeing all the machinery and people needed to put together the most advanced archery equipment.

Not all of our adventures required us to leave the classroom however. Some activities were able to be completed right here at ODS…


…such as this steam engine that a group of dedicated students put together…

IMG_3081IMG_3085 IMG_3088IMG_3092  …or these ghillie suits that students made, learning about camouflage and the concept of biomimicry.

And of course for the holidays, one can’t forget the Gingerbread Cookies and houses. IMG_3098 IMG_3105

Gingerbreadhouse2 George GingerbReadHouse


We’re excited to see what new adventures 2016 will bring for our Field Education.

Happy Holidays to all!



Fall Spike

It’s been over a month since we’ve returned from the dusty trail, but the stars have aligned and we now have all of the pictures we could muster from our Fall Spike.

One group spent 3 days travelling with Oregon Youth Conservation Corps River Stewards program. They paddled North along the Willamette River from Salem to the San Salvador Access near Dayton, OR. The adventure included lots of wildlife sightings, including over 30 Blue Heron’s throughout the trip, 1 flipped canoe (thanks to another), testing the boats durability with three people paddling together, and an afternoon of invasive species removal. These stewards took a field and destroyed the Scotch Broom that had a tyrannical hold over the area. Down time was spent skipping and collecting rocks, tossing a frisbee, playing Football, and sharing stories and riddles around the campfire.

Once the river trip was over, the water group spent a drizzly weekend exploring Bohemia Mountain, and some waterfalls around Brice creek. Then the work week at Schwartz Campgroup began. Over a period of two days the group tackled a tremendous amount of moving gravel, mulch, dirt, blackberries and more scotch broom.

River Crew Fall Spike Photos

The land group began the trip with work at Schwartz Campground, starting off the gravel and dirt moving process, and helping install several impact pads to minimize the impact that future campers have at the site. Once the work was done, the play began. Their adventures also included exploration days at Bohemia and some of the nearby waterfalls, hiking and building forts. These adventurers even treated themselves to a spa day, covering themselves in mud from a nearby river bed.

Land Crew Fall Spike Photos

8 days was a long time to be in the woods, but these students showed that perseverance, creativity and collaboration can get you through a lot. The week ended strong with Big Clean, and a well-deserved 4-day weekend to dress up and eat candy.


Initial SPIKE!

We have done it!

Last Friday we returned from our first 5-day Spike of the year.  The week started off strong, with the students diving right into the packing process. Mid-morning both groups were packed, and pulling out of the NYC parking lot to their respective sites.

Each group spent 2 days working at Quamash Prairie, collecting and dispersing native plant seed, helping mitigate the effects of the dump constructed nearby. After a hard day’s work, the crews headed to Fall Creek, where they spent down time fishing, exploring and getting their feet wet.

The other two days and nights were spent near Waldo lake hiking, bushwhacking, fishing, and catching crawdads. Members of both groups went rafting, working together as a group to steer their watercraft either around the edges of Odell Lake for optimum fishing, or in the center of Waldo Lake, where students had the opportunity to gaze deep down into the crystal clear, oligotrophic waters.


A peninsula on Lake Waldo that one group bushwhacked to reach. At this peninsula the students read about the importance of wilderness areas, and spent time doing a written reflection.Waterfeet

Cool down with feet in the glacial-fed lake. Waldo

A moment of relaxation after a hike and bushwhacking.Paddling

Students explore the heart of Waldo Lake via raft.


An eager boat of fishing at Odell Lake resulted in nearly a dozen caught fish, 4 of which were kept for dinner.Fire

After a day of fishing, students built a rack to roast their fresh caught Cockney Salmon over an open fire.Crawdadding



One group of students hiked up to Rosary Lake, and spent the day fishing and collecting over 60 crawdads, which we stored in the water jug seen above.

A good time was had, and now we’re back to the classroom grind post-shower and weekend relaxation.

Initial Spike Photo Album

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As part of the ODS school curriculum, students get to choose two electives per quarter. There are a wide range of electives that change quarterly. The electives for this quarter are:

Strategy, in which students play and analyze various strategy games, such as Settlers of Catan.


Outdoor Living Skills, in which students learn the basics of wilderness survival, including shelter building and knot-tying.

ODSkillzOutdoor Living Skills

Fitness, where students are challenged to improve their physical fitness.



Art, where students get to stretch their creative minds using various art methods and mediums.

9.18 (1) 9.18 (2)

Team Sports, in which students play various team sports, focusing on the the concepts of teamwork and skills development.

9.18 (4)

Garden, where students learn the science and methods behind growing plants.

9.18 (7)9.18 (5)

Our Culinary elective is offered every quarter, and provides an opportunity for students to learn the basics of working in a kitchen and preparing food.  The food they prepare is available for purchase to lunch for all students and NYC staff.

This week’s menu has been delicious, and included sauteed vegetables and pasta, red curry and rice, and spaghetti with garlic bread donated from a local Eugene Bakery.

9.15 (3)

9.15 (1)  9.15 (5)9.16 (16)9.15 (6)

The menu even included cantaloupe, grapes, and raspberries that came straight from the NYC garden for a delicious fruit salad prepared by the students.

9.16 (19)

We are excited to see what else the students will learn throughout the quarter.


We’re back!

Well, sort of.

School is back in session, but our cast for this year’s masterpiece is ever so slightly different. Of our currently enrolled students about half are new to ODS, but 5 days in it’s hard to tell as everyone settles into the year.

Our first day of school last Wednesday culminated in the team activity known as the Marshmallow challenge.

The goal: Teams of 4 or 5 set out to make the tallest standing structure that has a marshmallow on top.

The materials:

  • 20 sticks of spaghetti
  • 1 yard of string
  • 1 yard of tape
  • 1 (slightly stale in our case) marshmallow

Enjoy the photos to see the creations they came up with. Marshmallow Challenge Marshmallow Challenge3 Marshmallow Challenge2 Marshmallow Challenge4


Additionally, here are 3 of the 5 new AmeriCorps who will be working with the school this year, Dan, Katelyn and Sara.  We are excited to see what the year will bring!


Thank you to all who contribute to theTwin Rivers Charter School. Support by the Oregon Youth Conservation Corps and its Community Stewardship Corps (CSC) program helps TRCS students gain valuable education, employment and leadership skills while learning about the environment through classroom and field-based learning. To learn more about OYCC, visit