Canopy Connections is an experiential learning program for Oregon middle school classes developed by three partner institutions: University of Oregon Environmental Leadership Program, The Pacific Tree Climbing Institute, and the U.S. Forest Service’s Pacific Northwest Research Station. The program introduces middle school students to interesting and creative learning activities in the canopy of the old-growth forest at the Andrews Forest LTER site. Under the guidance of professional tree climbers, students ascend several stories into an old-growth canopy using specialized climbing gear and rope. While settled in "treeboats" high up in the canopy, students engage in creative writing, art, science inquiry projects, and quiet observation time.
The program is designed to provide a transformational experience and to help students appreciate the outdoor world as well as their own capabilities. Since 2009, 450 students have participated in the program. The recruitment process gives priority to schools with a high proportion students receiving free and reduced lunch. Primarily funded by private donations, foundations, and the U.S. Forest Service’s More-Kids-in-the-Woods program, Canopy Connections leverages the investment in LTER research as an effective mechanism for communicating ecological insights to beginning science students. Canopy Connections is featured in a new online video, Canopy Connections, by Quinn Moticka and on the Environmental Leadership Program's Canopy Connections page.