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To teach communities of youth and adults the art and science of wooden boat building, the power of hands on learning, and a commitment to environmental stewardship.
What We Do
The Wind & Oar Boat School offers a comprehensive program engaging communities in hands-on-learning, where basic woodworking and maritime skills converge with environmental stewardship and watershed ecology. With a focus on youth programs, the school provides classes on traditional methods of boatbuilding and related arts and science. Students gain competence in job related skills and experience the team building, collaboration, and self-confidence that arise from working towards a common goal. Cuts to public education have eroded access to hands-on-learning opportunities that connect students to the practical application of their studies. The school’s integrated curriculum linking math, science, and design to the building of boats, provides a much-needed educational opportunity. The program costs are funded through adult and community course fees, grants, and partnerships with private and public entities.
The Wind & Oar Boat School incorporated as a nonprofit in June 2011 and is an IRC §501(c)(3) public benefit organization premised on the power of hands-on learning to engage and connect students to the broader world. The founding executive director and a five-member board of directors, each with strong professional public service experience, lead the organization. Building Communities - Building Wooden Boats is the tagline used by the organization to stress that collaboration, teamwork, and critical thinking are as integral to each course as the woodworking and boat building skills.
Currently the school holds classes at ADX Portland, a membership workspace for designer and builders. Wind & Oar instructors come to the school as experienced boat builders, woodworkers, and teachers. In addition to the boat building courses, workshops on tool making, oar and paddle construction, boat design, navigation, and watershed ecology are scheduled.
In June 2011, a group of ten women ages 23 to 61 began the school’s first build of a St Ayles Skiff as a pilot project. This first boat, ROSIE, was unveiled at a reception in September 2011, at which both Commissioner Amanda Fritz and Ann Bier, Director of the Office of Healthy Working Rivers, commended the school as an example of the critical linkage between river recreation, education, and environmental stewardship. While youth programs are the primary focus of the school, adult classes provide opportunities for the community at large to acquire skills in boat building and related arts. The business model anticipates that adult course fees will partially subsidize youth courses. The long-term goal is to locate the school on the Willamette River in a campus-like facility that incorporates boatbuilding workshops with indoor and outdoor spaces devoted to the study of river ecology, while also providing environmentally sensitive recreational access to the waterway.