The Ecology School inspires stewardship of and connection to the natural world through nature-based, living lessons about ecology, conservation, farming, and sustainability.


Our programs are experiential, hands-on and fun. We immerse participants in complex ecosystems where our experienced educators use narrative, hands-on activities to illuminate the scientific relationships among organisms (including humans) and their environment. Our radically sustainable riverside campus is home to forest, fields, and a farm, which enable the practical study of biology, ecology, nature and human impact. Through our residential camps, workshops and community events, adults and children are invited to become students of the world around them and inspired to new thinking about science, food, and the environment.


At The Ecology School, we believe that everyone should have a joyful relationship with science—one that deepens our understanding of the world around us. We approach the science of ecology through wide-eyed, hands-on exploration of the ecosystems outside our door, making nature’s lessons memorable with play, humor, and games, and applicable with real life models of sustainable farming and living.


Sustainability has always been integral to our mission. At The Ecology School, sustainability means living, learning, working and playing in ways that are restorative to the world around us. Our River Bend Farm campus rises to the “living building challenge” that asks for spaces to give more than they take from the environment around them. Our working farm, dormitory, kitchen and dining commons exceed every official green standard, modeling regenerative and self-sufficient ways to grow and prepare food, power our buildings, and utilize technology to minimize negative human impact on the ecosystems we inhabit. River Bend Farm opens our eyes to what’s possible, reimagining the future, now.


Our History

 The Ecology School has made the study of ecology accessible and enjoyable for tens of thousands of people since 1998. What began as a day camp for children on the coast of Maine has expanded to reach groups, and families, and individuals of all ages. The opening of the school’s groundbreaking southern Maine campus—the first of its kind nationally and globally—enables immersive programs where campers and residents can live, laugh, and study in a unique ecosystem, as well as community events designed to amplify the efforts of like-minded partners working in ecology, sustainability, and food access. Today, this respected Maine institution offers both a radically sustainable built environment and a protected natural setting for inspired learning at all ages.

  • 1998

    The Ecology School is co-founded as a 501 (c)(3) non-profit by Drew Dumsch, our current President and CEO.

  • 2002

    The first edition of The Ecology School Field Guide is published. The guide is unique as it based on what one would find in each of Maine's ecosystems rather than by animal family.

  • 2004

    Built green office, featuring solar panels, gray water system, and sustainable insulation materials, to teach the community about conservation through sustainability building design.

  • 2006

    ABC’s of Ecology: An Educators Guide to Learning Outside, a guide to The Ecology School's unique teaching pedagogy, is published.

  • 2007

    EcosySTEM™ a multi-year, sequential program is established in which students, starting in Kindergarten, learn about science and the natural world year-after-year concluding with a "capstone" overnight program at The Ecology School, usually during their 7th or 8th grade year.

  • 2010

    The Ecology School became a founding member of Environmental Living and Learning for Maine Students (ELLMS), a collaborative in which our closest competitors become our biggest allies with the goal of an overnight outdoor experience for every Maine student. ELLMS members include Chewonki, Schoodic Institute, and UMaine 4-H Camp and Learning Centers at Bryant Pond and Tanglewood.

  • 2013

    The Ecology School celebrates the 100,000 program participant mark!

  • 2017

    River Bend Farm is purchased by The Ecology School and the property’s conservation easement is transferred to Maine Farmland Trust.

  • Summer 2019

    Ground breaking for the Living Building Challenge Dormitory and Dining Commons at River Bend Farm

  • Fall 2020

    New site at River Bend Farm opens and Residential Programming begins.

  • Beyond 2021

    Our Dormitory and Dining Commons will receive Living Building certification following one full year of 105% net positive energy operation. In the years following, we plan on revitalizing the farmhouse, barn and continuing to enhance our programs through the broader Living Community Challenge. As of now, we are the first in the nation to submit a Master Plan for this ambitious certification with the goal of creating the country's greenest school.