The Children’s Forest of Central Oregon has received the 2014 Forest Service’s Chief’s Honor Award, the highest award given by the Forest Service.

The Chief’s Honor Award publicly recognizes outstanding accomplishments that contribute to the Forest Service’s strategic goals. The prestigious honor was given to the Children’s Forest of Central Oregon, formerly the Deschutes Children’s Forest, for “Engaging Urban America,” through exemplary accomplishments in creating a Children’s Forest that inspires youth to be stewards of public lands through connections with nature.

In giving the award, Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell said, “I appreciate your work to double participation in environmental education programs, develop resources for teachers, parents and children, and raise overall community awareness of the critical link between time spent in nature and better health.”

Sean Ferrell, Volunteer and Partnerships Program Manager for the Deschutes National Forest, accepted the award at a ceremony on December 5, 2014 in Washington D.C. on behalf of the Children’s Forest of Central Oregon (CFCO). He will be accompanied by Paul Andrews (High Desert Education Service District), Bruce Abernethy (Bend La Pine School District), and Sue Jorgenson (Bend Park & Recreation District), who are all founding partners of the Children’s Forest of Central Oregon.

“From the beginning it has been the community partners who believed in the greatest possibility of the Children’s Forest, which to date has reached over 40% of our student population and offered programs in every school in Central Oregon,” Ferrell stated when learning of the award.

“We see hundreds of Central Oregon students flourishing from the Children’s Forest programs when they come through our Skyliners Lodge Discovery Center,” said Paul Andrews, Deputy Superintendent for the High Desert Education Service District which serves as the fiscal agent and employer for The Children’s Forest of Central Oregon. “These programs help our teachers take learning outside of the four classroom walls and into nature.”

Pictured left to right: Mary Wagner, Associate Chief of the Forest Service; Sue Jorgenson, Bend Parks & Recreation; Tom Tidwell, Chief of the U.S. Forest Service; Sage Ferrell, Mr. Ferrell’s daughter; Sean Ferrell, Deschutes National Forest; Paul Andrews, High Desert Education Service District and Bruce Abernethy, Bend La Pine School District.