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It's been a terrific 2014-2015 school year with our 7 participating schools! We've worked with over 325 students, facilitated over 60 in-class lessons, and conducted 35 field trips to places like Mt. Spokane, Liberty Lake County Park, Lookout Pass, Heron Pond Farms, Fishtrap Lake, Upriver Dam, Spokane County Hatchery, Liberty Lake Water Reclamation Facility, Hayden Lake, Dishman Hills, and more!

Spokane Area North Idaho
The Community School Lake City High School
M.E.A.D. Alternative
Post Falls High School
Eagle Peak School
St. Maries High School
On Track Academy                                                                                                       

Post Falls HS students at The Confluence Project's 2015 Youth Water Summit at the University of Idaho in Moscow yesterday.  They are posing next to the touch-screen, interactive educational kiosk they helped create on the Spokane River, thanks to funding from the Washington Department of Ecology.  

Thanks to C.D. Meyer, Inc. for building the awesome Kiosk!

Welcome to Project SUSTAIN! 

Our goa
l is to restore the connection between youth and nature by enabling students to get outside, practice field science, be physically-active, and become better environmental stewards. 

Recognizing the challenges that school districts face in funding field
trips for high school science classes, TLC partners with local businesses and foundations to fund school field trips that engage students in hands-on, science-based educational activities and community service projects to enhance their classroom learning.  Our field trips encourage active outdoor recreation activities including hiking, canoeing, kayaking, cycling, and snowshoeing; and community service projects such as tree plantings and stream/lake clean-ups.  It is our intention that Project SUSTAIN will-on a local level-begin to help reverse the so-called "nature deficit disorder" trend found in American kids today.

Funding covers field trip transportation costs, lesson plan materials, activities, curriculum development and planning, and other associated expenses throughout the school year, giving kids a chance to apply what they learn in the classroom in an outdoor setting.  This outdoor learning component closely aligns with state standards, school curricula, and individual teachers' preferences, and incorporates Lands Council programs focusing on forests, water, wildlife, and sustainability as appropriate.  

TLC provides teachers with an extensive menu of local field trip options and in-class lesson plans, teaches the classes, and facilitates the activities.  Participating SUSTAIN schools in the Spokane-Coeur d'Alene area are entitled to funding which covers expenses associated with 4 field trips and up to 10 hours of TLC-led in-class lessons during the school year. 

Project SUSTAIN field trips are carried out through in-kind donations from the following partners: Idaho Department of Fish & Game, IdaH2O Master Water Stewards Program, Gonzaga Outdoors, ROW Adventures, Heron Pond Farms, FLOW Adventures, Kootenai Environmental Alliance, City of Spokane Parks & Recreation, Spokane Fly Fishers, Dishman Hills Conservancy, Spokane County Hatchery, Coeur d'Alene Tribe, Spokane County Parks, SCD/WSU Green Zone, Spokane Riverkeeper, Spokane County Water Resource Center, Fighting Creek Landfill, Coeur d'Alene Wastewater Treatment Plant, Upriver Dam, Lookout Pass Ski & Recreation Area, Turnbull NWR, USDA Forest Service, City of Spokane Waste to Energy Plant, and Bureau of Land Management.

Project SUSTAIN gives students in our community the unique and worthy opportunity to break out of the traditional classroom setting and create meaningful connections with the natural world.  By getting kids outside, we strive to empower the leaders of tomorrow with the knowledge and passion to become-and remain-good stewards of the environment we're working so hard to protect today. 

Our vision is that through Project SUSTAIN, kids will develop lasting relationships with the natural world and acquire skills that they can enjoy for the rest of their lives.  By transferring our appreciation and respect for our forests, water, and wildlife to our community's youth, we are directly investing in the future of our environment.


The Confluence Project

We've cultivated an exciting partnership with the University of Idaho's Waters of the West program.  Students at Lake City, Post Falls, and St. Maries High Schools just completed a year-long local water resources unit called "The Confluence Project," which focused on the water quality of the Lake Coeur d'Alene and Twin Lakes watersheds.  This comprehensive unit compared input, storage, and output water quality both within and between the two systems.  Students participated in a water quality and water quantity field trip, a water-related service learning experience, and a culminating youth water summit at the University of Idaho in Moscow in April, at which they presented findings of individual research questions studied during the year.  Schools shared data with each other via live, interactive video-conferencing through the Idaho Education Network, and students maintained individual portfolios of the year's activities.  The Lands Council-in conjunction with our north Idaho education partners, including the University of Idaho, North Idaho College, Coeur d'Alene Tribe, and local high school teachers-is hoping to expand this model in the future to schools throughout the Idaho Panhandle.

Check out The Confluence Project's blog

Read this story in the Spokesman Review about The Confluence Project's snow science trip to Mt. Spokane with Post Falls HS!

Pass the Potato

Our "Pass the Potato" project got students in Idaho, Wisconsin, and Bulgaria outside: learning about and appreciating their region's unique natural wonders; swapping their experiences with each other; and sharing with local elementary schools via student-filmed field videos and a traveling "Mr. Potato Head!" While participating in outdoor, science and recreation-based school field trips that focused on activities such as snowshoeing, geo-cashing, orienteering, hiking and rock climbing, students filmed their ex
periences and created videos that they shared with each other via YouTube. This helped foster the students' pride in their own natural surroundings, in addition to an enhanced knowledge and motivation to be outside. The innovative video exchange allowed them to learn about and be motivated to visit and participate in outdoor activities in other regions. Our students also helped increase participation in outdoor recreation by educating local elementary school children about the outdoors and getting them excited about outdoor recreation activities unique to their region.

How'd we do it? After learning snowshoeing technique, students from Post Falls, Lake City, and St. Maries High Schools snowshoed up a mountain, dug snow pits, and measured snow water equivalency (SWE). While on this field trip, students from Post Falls HS filmed their experiences and created a video about north Idaho's recreational opportunities and shared it with classes in two "sister schools:" an 8th grade class at the Fall River School in Fall River, WI and the Anglo-American School of Sofia in Sofia, Bulgaria. The Fall River class visited the Aldo Leopold Nature Center in nearby Monona, WI and studied geo-caching and orienteering, and the Anglo-American School students participated in a "Week Without Walls" adventure where they explored Bulgaria's nature and culture.  A "Mr. Potato Head" (inspired by Idaho's potatoes) accompanied all three groups on their field trips, and completed his circuit from ID to WI to Bulgaria and back to 
ID. All three groups created videos of their respective outdoor adventures. This real and virtual outdoor learning exchange fostered students' pride in their own natural surrounds, taught them about the outdoors, and motivated them to get outside...whether in their own region or another part of the country or world!   

Check out these videos on our Pass the Potato YouTube site!

In an effort to get the "next generation" excited to be outside,
Post Falls HS students took the project a step further by creating additional Prezi/PowerPoint presentations and sharing them along with the video to two local elementary school classes. These students also created
surveys which were completed by students in Ponderosa and Prairie View Elementary Schools in Post Falls before and after they viewed the video/presentations. Data was analyzed using a chi square statistical analysis at a 95% confidence level. Surveys showed that the video helped them view science in a less negative way, see that science can be studied outside, and understand that Idaho is more than just a location: it's a place of available natural resources that provide fun outdoor activities.


This project was made possible by a grant from The Outdoor Foundation.

Each year, we hold an essay contest and ask students to-in 750 words or less-describe how Project SUSTAIN has impacted their education and their lives.  Following are excerpts from essays written by this year's SUSTAIN students:

Thanks to The Lands Council and Project SUSTAIN, this year I've learned a ton of new things about the outdoors that I've never thought I was interested in! I have found a new passion.  –Amanda

Project SUSTAIN has really opened my eyes to a lot of things and forever changed the way I treat the world around me.  I'm so thankful to The Lands Council and Project SUSTAIN for giving me the opportunity.  I wish that Project SUSTAIN will be around for a long time so that lots of other students can also have some amazing adventures like I've had.  –Cassie

My year with Project SUSTAIN has truly opened my eyes to water quality. I had never really given water quality any thought until this project. I understand now how important it is to keep our water safe and clean for both drinking and playing. Project SUSTAIN has taught me that it is our job to give future Spokane residents the water they need.  –Karlin

These trips helped me get new experiences I couldn't even imagine I would have had before.  –Starla

Why do we care about water quality? How does it pertain to our everyday lives? I didn't know and didn't care until Project SUSTAIN made learning fun. What I learned this year is that it's never too early to start making a difference in the environment and even the world.  –Noah

In every activity we did I learned something new.  Now I have a whole different perspective on the environment and I watch what I do and try my best not to harm our waters.  –Sadida


This trip was one of my favorite trips all year because it mixed the outdoors, exercise, learning, and all around fun.  –Robert


The most meaningful portion of the trip for me was a combination of all the elements in our adventure. The fact that twenty-something students were all actively learning through hands on experiences while being surrounded by passionate and driven individuals.  The opportunity presented to us through Project SUSTAIN is of a rare kind and I am incredibly grateful to be able to be a part of it!  –Kassidy

This trip has built more structure in teamwork and I feel this has brought me closer to my fellow students.  –Dakota


I really couldn't imagine this year without these field trips. I really hope that other grades get to experience this too because these are probably where we made our most memories, and our favorite memories! Science has never been so fun!  --Emma

When I learned of Fair Trade it changed how I look at the food that I ate.  Companies that support Fair Trade are in my mind doing what's right.  I now go to Brews Brothers or Thomas Hammer to but my coffee because they support Fair Trade.  –Danny

This year has been the only one that taught me something that I will want to remember and talk about.  I am not going to throw my trash in the river and make sure that I try not to waste water when I do not need it. –Haylee

What is trust? Trust is assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something. Project SUSTAIN has given me the chance to have trust in my classmates.  On our last trip, a fellow student who at the beginning of the year despised me was pulling me out of the water and giving me emotional support better than a therapist.  Throughout this journey I've learned that my classmates are not just my classmates. They are heroes, survivors, supporters, and most of all my friends. I wouldn't know how amazing these students are if it weren't for Project SUSTAIN.  –Neva

Project SUSTAIN has inspired me to change and show others that it is the right thing to change.  –Ali



From last year's SUSTAIN students:

"I really enjoyed this activity because it made me feel like I participated in something bigger than myself and really gave back to the environment."  -Micah 

"Project SUSTAIN activities have helped me to realize my love for being outdoors, and better respect the nature all around us."  -Alyssa 

"I have found out through Project SUSTAIN that I, as a teen and when I become older, can help contribute to my community's sustainability."  -Rhegan 

"Project SUSTAIN has impacted my life in such a positive way.  I am now able to say I have gone ice fishing and snowshoeing which I had never had the chance to do before."  -Kailey 

"Project SUSTAIN taught me that if I ever plan on building a house or starting a business, I should do it in a way that can be as sustainable as possible."  -Isaac 

"Project SUSTAIN made water quality matter."  -Samantha 

"I can tell you from my personal experience that if kids had more opportunities like the ones that The Lands Council provides, education would not be something that children felt forced into, but rather happy and maybe even excited for."  -Dustin

 "I can truly say with confidence that the two field trips The Lands Council has funded for our class have taught me more real life information than the past four years of science classes combined."  -Tanner 

"The greatest part of Project SUSTAIN is the fact that as a student and someone that is trying to develop their own environmental philosophy, I have been able to take a different outlook on how I live my life and what roles the environment and local ecosystems play in it."  -Kelsey

"This has been one of my most treasured years and it is all because of Project SUSTAIN."  -Julianne

"Project SUSTAIN has had the greatest, most extensive impact on my education to date."  -Richie

Read about the collaborative project three of our North Idaho schools are taking on this year in an article written by science teacher, Jamie Esler from Lake City HS here.

For more information on this project, contact Kat Hall, Conservation Programs Director, khall (at) landscouncil.org, or call 209.2403.

If you are interested in becoming a sponsor for this project, contact Kate Burke,
 Director of Development & Communications, kburke (at) landscouncil.org

Congratulations to Kat Hall and her team from Post Falls High School!

They were one out of three groups out of 14 to win $1,500 for project SUSTAIN at the Outdoor Nation summit in Seattle!  Great job team!

2014-2015 Project SUSTAIN Sponsors:
Thank you for making our project possible!



Pura Vida High Performance Builders


University of Idaho

Project SUSTAIN Info/Resources:

SUSTAIN Curriculum
Review the complex and unique curriculum TLC has created for Project SUSTAIN.

Fall SUSTAIN Update
Read the highlights of 2012-2013 Project SUSTAIN.


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