L.O.V.E.S. Outdoor Education strives to create a student-centered environment in the great outdoors with the mission to provide a holistic education to every student through a focus on science, technology, engineering, art and math in order for all students to meet their own unique potential in a global society.
How We Came To Be
Jackie, one of our co-founders, grew up in an urban environment with little outdoor experience. As a teen, her family moved to a rural area in Oregon and was nothing short of a culture shock. She began looking at her new life and trying to find joy in her new location. She had always loved children and took this opportunity to really embrace her interest in working with childhood development and care. Shortly thereafter, she met her God Mom through an herbal apprenticeship and began embracing her new way of life in the country. She began taking an interest in harvesting and preserving local produce and even took the highest
honors with her own recipe creations, including winning first place and the Oregon State Fair with her now-famous Zucchini Relish. She continued her pursuit of childhood development and care working as a preschool teacher for the Cascade School District and developing her own company - Little Birdhouse Preserves.
Growing up in rural America in Northeastern Oregon, Lynique, our other co-founder, grew up on a fifth generation cattle ranch run by her grandma and was no stranger to outdoor activities and hard work. She excelled at sports and 4-H and was involved in several student organizations including student counsel, FBLA and VICA where she held leadership positions in each one. She participated in several community service activities, one of her favorites being taking her animals to the local nursing home every Tuesday and to the chronic mental health and wellness facility on Thursdays with her grandma. Her learning disabilities made school difficult so she really poured herself into the parts of her life where she could thrive and succeed, most of which were outside and all were hands-on. She spent countless hours learning how to live off the land, grow, raise and harvest your own food, harvest timber off the land for winter heat, bake and even knit and quilt. In the summers, she would head to the Eagle Cap Wilderness to spend time with her nana where the grandkids learned about the history of the land, their family and their native heritage. Lynique dreamed of sharing her love of living off the land and the great outdoors with others who were not as fortunate. However, like many of us have experienced, life takes over and dreams get pushed aside. Over the next several years, Lynique took her adventuring and experiencing life seriously, proving to herself and others, you are capable of anything you set your mind to. She started commercial fishing off the West Coast and Alaska, bought excavating equipment and started a residential and small commercial construction business, owned and operated a greenhouse and garden business from her family’s property in Northeastern Oregon and when time permitted, she embraced every opportunity to entertain people by playing her guitar and singing her songs about her life, love and the pursuit of happiness.
Several years later, Jackie and Lynique met during a hunting and foraging adventure with their families. The week was full of outdoor adventures, learning about outdoor safety, identifying plant species, cooking, baking and preserving much of the week’s foraging finds. After sharing the joys of watching their children flourish in an outdoor learning environment, they began talking about the need for a more well-rounded, holistic educational environment; it was clear to them they needed to start an outdoor program not only for children, but for anyone no matter race, color, creed, sex, handicap or age!
At that time, Jackie was the owner/operator of Little Birdhouse Preschool and Turner Enrichment After School program and Lynique was teaching middle school and high school online as well as hosting Bridgering the Gap - Life if Rural America, a blog about living in rural America and sharing her adventures being a new mom, teaching her son and others about living off the land. They both agreed there was a need to get people hands-on learning experiences and get them outdoors, especially in the midst of a worldwide pandemic. In the coming months, LOVES Outdoor Education began to take shape.
Jackie returned to her suburban life outside Salem, OR. Her three children attend public school and each one has very different educational experiences, even though they have shared many of the same teachers. Her daughter excels at the typical learning experiences most of us have come to know as “normal” education and her first son severely struggles in that environment. Being a mom who has prided herself in preparing many of Turner’s young learners for success in school through Little Birdhouse Pre-school, Jackie felt at a loss on how to help her son, and others like him, be successful in today’s “typical” school experience. In pre-school, her students were able to learn through doing, working in the garden and growing their own food. With her certified kitchen, Jackie was able to teach her students to can and preserve what they have grown. They learned through hands-on learning experiences with art and culture driving their inquiry based activities. When her students graduated and moved on to Kindergarten, ready to take on the world, she saw her previous students begin to lose their interest in learning and struggle in their new educational expectation to sit at a desk and learn in a one size fits all model of learning and teaching. For the last eight years, Jackie has been looking for a way to keep her students motivated to learn and continue to be life-long learners with the ability to not only provide for themselves, but for their family, community and ultimately their world. This is when she started working on the Turner Enrichment after school program and it soon became a reality. Being able to continue working with students from all walks of life, Jackie gained a greater understanding of the need for a more holistic education for all students.
Lynique, a new mom of a one-year-old son, continued her life on the farm, teaching, running their family owned and operated businesses - Wallowa Lake Pack Station and Oregon Backcountry Outfitting - as well as continuing to care for their livestock and manage the 160-acre ranch. She tutored student-athletes at the local middle school and high school to help them achieve at an exceptional level in the classroom as well as on the court, mat and field. Lynique struggled watching students be forced into the “norm” of public education. It was sad to see a one-size fits all approach where students lacked the hands-on, real world experience. Working with several nieces and nephews, as well as other family friends’ children, she took pride in taking them to the ranch and teaching them several life skills, including changing tires, vehicle maintenance and even how to drive manual transmission vehicles, giving them the opportunity to shine outside the constraints of the classroom. Lynique also volunteers with the local 4-H program and is a leader for livestock, small animals and home-making projects. She also gives tours of the ranch and Wallowa Lake Pack Station to local FFA programs discussing livestock health & wellness and overall care techniques for their horses, cattle and other livestock.
In the following months, Jackie and Lynique found that trillions of dollars are spent every year on artificial and virtual entertainment, movies, video games and several other non-productive, seemingly brainless activities. During the corona virus outbreak, supply chains were strained and put a new realization on the need for self-sufficiency and knowledge of living within your means, and even so far as to be able to physically provide for yourself and your family. As a society, we have been caught up in the perceived notion of socio-economic inferiority if we don’t have the latest game, car, phone or other tangible possessions. However, in the long run, none of these things provide a true sense of accomplishment, nor do they provide a way of supporting human existence. What Jackie and Lynique concluded is that there truly was a need for an educational platform where diversity, equity and inclusion partnered with life-long learning skills to support the learner in discovering sustainability across their life, no matter where they live. Their dream is to create an educational environment for learners from all walks of life, with all levels of knowledge, and help to bring them back to the basics while still embracing the beauties today’s world can hold. They want to help create stewards who will leave the world better than they found it, while finding joy and confidence in enjoying the great outdoors.