The Children’s Forest of Central Oregon (formally known as Deschutes Children’s Forest), began in May of 2011 when Deschutes National Forest, partnering with Discover Your Northwest, was awarded a national grant to become one of only twelve Forest Service sponsored demonstration Children’s Forests in the country. As the first nationally recognized Children’s Forest in the Pacific Northwest, the Children’s Forest of Central Oregon (CFCO) emerged out of a dynamic coalition of committed and diverse partners. In a unique twist, the health care industry joined together with educators, natural resource and recreation professionals, and conservationists to develop the Children’s Forest of Central Oregon for the benefit of healthy minds, healthy bodies and healthy forests.
Since 2011, the Children’s Forest of Central Oregon has grown to include 23 community partners from across Central Oregon. Run by the original stakeholders, it has been designed to add value to the work of existing organizations and agencies by providing increased coordination, enhanced publicity and additional funding and volunteer resources. The Children’s Forest of Central Oregon is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. It has 2 part-time staff and it raises funds through grants, corporate sponsorships and fundraising events.
In 2014, The Children’s Forest of Central Oregon was awarded the U.S. Forest Service Chief’s Award for Youth Engagement, which is the highest honor awarded in the Forest Service.