CORVALLIS - Austin Hamer of Redmond, Wash., sometimes called the "father of outdoor education" in Oregon, is among 28 men and women recently honored by the Oregon State University College of Agricultural Sciences.
They are being added to the college's Diamond Pioneer Registry that honors those 75 and older for their contributions to agriculture and natural resources. The registry began when the college observed its 75th anniversary.
Hamer, an OSU graduate, served with the Oregon State Game Commission (now Department of Fish and Wildlife) for many years and was supervisor of the conservation education institute, the first outdoor school for sixth graders in 1958 in the Prineville school district in Central Oregon.
More than 200,000 sixth grade students have participated in outdoor schools since 1966, with about 6,000 taking part each year. The schools reflect the belief of Hamer and others that students need a hands-on outdoor experience as they learn the ecology of living things.
Hamer was honored as the "Father of Outdoor Education in Oregon" by the Multnomah Education Service District in Portland in 1966, the 30th anniversary of the start of the outdoor school program. Now retired and living in Redmond, Hamer and his wife, Ina, recently established a scholarship for students in the OSU Department of Fisheries and Wildlife.