Face to Face Academy has grown to recognize the importance of Outdoor Education as a catalyst for both academic success and the promotion of environmental stewardship. What started as a modest effort to expose students who suffer a nature deficit has expanded into a multi-faceted experience where students participate in several trips a year lasting anywhere from three to seven days. Trips have included canoeing down the Namekogan River, hiking the Porcupine Mountains, service learning projects at noted environmentalist, Will Steger’s homestead and camping in the Boundary Waters. Day activities include wilderness survival skills, canoe paddling skills, downhill and cross country skiing, rock climbing, and off road biking. The Academy also partners with noted Environmental Organizations in the state including Wolf Ridge and Camp Menogyn (YMCA) Over 70% of the Academy’s seventy students now participate in the Program. A segment of these students are also exploring a career in this field.
While many students describe these trips as the best part of their high school experience, the program has demonstrated empirical results. The students who are regular participants show greater academic gains in both credit accumulation and standardized test scores in math, science, and reading. Their attendance not only improves from their previous baseline, but also is greater than their non-participatory peers. These outcomes are a major reason Face to Face Academy’s Wilderness & Outdoor Program has been honored with a “Best Practice” Award by the Minnesota Department of Education and an “Environmental Sustainability” Award by the Saint Paul City Council.