The Wilderness Classroom started with a simple idea: to improve students' core academic skills and appreciation for the environment by introducing elementary and middle school students to the wonders of exploration and wilderness travel.
Ten years and twelve expeditions later, the Wilderness Classroom is a 501(c)3 that reaches over 2,600 teachers and 75,000 students around the globe.
Our mission has never changed. We seek to instill a lifelong appreciation of the natural world while improving basic skills like reading, critical thinking, and communication by highlighting the joy of discovery.
Since it is usually unfeasible to load a classroom of 4th grade students onto a plane and fly them to remote locations, we use a combination of interactive internet-based learning tools on our website www.wildernessclassroom.com, teacher training, and live school programs to accomplish our mission.
The North American Odyssey
On Earth Day (April 22) of 2010 Dave and Amy Freeman began a three year, 11,700 mile journey across North America by kayak, canoe, and dogsled. Their goal is to use their journey as a platform for gaining support and protection for North America’s waterways and wild places, while actively engaging over 100,000 elementary and middle school students in their journey though this website and live school assemblies.
The odyssey began by kayak on the Pacific Coast studying temperate rainforests and marine life of the Pacific Northwest, but this was just the first in a series of six stages on their quest to highlight North America's wildest places.
After kayaking 1,400 miles from Seattle, Washington to Skagway, Alaska, the team progressed over the history-studded mountains in the footsteps of the Klondike Gold Rush, to the home of Inuit along the Arctic Ocean where polar bears roam. From the Arctic Ocean they dogsledded and canoed south through central Canada, and kayaked across the Great Lakes. Dave and Amy are now following the annual whale migration past the salt marshes and sea turtles of the Atlantic Coast, and will finish in the mangroves and coral reefs of the Florida Keys in April of 2013.(See route description for more details)
Through lesson plans and daily Web updates, elementary and middle school students learn alongside the explorers through www.wildernessclassroom.com and adults can follow their progress through www.NorthAmericanOdyssey.com.