Columbia Gorge Ecology Institute

Columbia Gorge Ecology Institute

Sponsored by Solstice Wood Fired Pizza

PO Box 1104 Hood River, OR 97031


Provide educational opportunities with an emphasis on stewardship and a sense of wonder in the natural systems of the Columbia River Gorge. Recognizing the unique biologic, cultural, and geologic nature of the region we use a place-based approach, engaging participants through innovative and experiential programming in an effort to cultivate the long-term conservation, sustainability, and vitality of the Columbia Gorge communities.


Create an ecologically literate citizenry.


We aim to (1) recruit and retain more volunteers so that we may (2) expand the number of students we’re serving, in addition to (3) increasing financial support from donors.


The Ecology Institute’s SECRETS program, a multi-week environmental education program that provides transformative outdoor experiences, has served regional schools since 1996. From a handful of classes when it began the SECRETS program now reaches 70% of the 5th grade classrooms in a 2,000 square mile service area and is known as a leading educational resource throughout the region. Additionally, the Ecology Institute offers middle school students opportunities to engage in meaningful scientific field surveys and restoration projects; provides internships in conservation stewardship and community service for high school students; engages hundreds of youth in after and out-of-school experiences of their local places; works to restore critical habitats for rare, threatened, and endangered species of the Gorge and creates a variety of other experiences that foster stewardship and a sense of wonder. We annually teach approximately 1,500 students and work with about 100 community volunteers. Our core values include passion, service, wellness, equity, and community. More than two-thirds of our programs are provided for FREE!


Fundraising Events

Our tentative fundraising events calendar for 2017: Spring Equinox Celebration on March 20th (a celebration of the changing of the seasons with activities for all ages, location TBD); Paddle for a Purpose in late April or early May, exact date TBD (paddle on the Columbia and Hood River while supporting restoration work and field trips throughout the Gorge); SECRETS After Dark Costume Ball on October 27th (a costume party and silent auction to support outdoor education).

Corporate Giving Opportunities

Our primary program for corporate giving is through the One Percent for the Planet partnership, in which your business donates at least one percent of your sales to the Ecology Institute. This program has some great benefits, other than the obvious tax break, including connecting with organizations and corporations around the world, increased advertising and visibility, and a unique opportunity to contribute to the communities of the Gorge. We also accept and are seeking corporate contributions in any size or form, including product or services to be used in our fundraising events.


All of our programs have sponsorship opportunities. Sponsorships are designed to cover costs of free programming. In return the sponsor will receive mutually agreed upon advertising. Contact us to learn more about sponsorships.


With more than two-thirds of our programs being provided for free we rely heavily on individual donations. All donations are recognized with a thank you letter and are tax-deductible. More than 75% of our annual budget is used for program expenses, and 100% of all donations to go directly to our programs.
Here are suggested donation amounts and what they can be used towards: Giving between $5 – $50 helps us maintain current supplies and purchase new equipment such as hand lenses and waders. Donations between $50 – $150 can pay for one student to receive an outdoor experience that they will remember forever. Gifts between $150 – $350 can help us reimburse a school for a bus to take an entire class on a field trip to a local natural area. Contributions between $350 – $750 can cover the tuition for a kid to attend our five-week summer camp, which is free! Donations between $750 – $1,500 can provide a high school student with a paid internship with our summer camp. Gifts beyond $1,500 can pay for entire classes, or even schools, receiving multi-week environmental education.
Our giving levels are as follows:
$10 – $100 = Citizen Scientists
$100 – $250 = SECRETS Keepers
$250 – $500 = Outdoor Educators
$500 – $1,000 = Gorge Explorers
Greater than $1,000 = Wonder Stewards.
We also accept monthly contributions, stock donations, will consider land, and can be designated as a beneficiary of your revocable trust, IRA, and/or estate. Contact us to learn more.
We’re currently seeking a volunteer to create small wooden disks that the students in our programs will receive and use as nametag necklaces. We’re also seeking volunteer members for our board of directors. Community volunteers to assist in classrooms and on field trips are needed on a regular basis. Volunteers that would like to help with fundraising initiatives are much appreciated. If you’re interested in volunteering please contact us to discuss your interests and abilities.