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Outdoor Environmental Education

At McGillis, we believe that learning extends beyond the four walls of the classroom.

Situated at the base of the Wasatch Mountains in Salt Lake City and within only a few hours of world-renowned Southern Utah deserts, McGillis is positioned for endless outdoor exploration and educational opportunities in bio-diverse landscapes. Through the Outdoor Environmental Education program (OEE), students are able to give real world application to academic lessons as well as further develop their personal growth as individual learners. Outdoor field trips and overnight trips provide opportunities for students to explore and put into practice The School’s essential attributes such as perseverance, sense of place and purpose, curiosity and creativity, independence, humility, and critical thinking.

Lower School OEE

Middle School OEE

Each middle school student will spend one trimester of Explorations class in Outdoor Environmental Education within their grade level. Weekly outdoor excursions consist of observing and exploring local trails, canyons and bodies of water within the Wasatch mountain range and Salt Lake City valley. Part of each grade level’s experience includes an overnight camping trip with their peers and teachers. Each year, student’s experiences build as they gain the necessary skills and independence to navigate a greater challenge.


Like many students, I didn’t always thrive as a learner in the traditional classroom. I love watching our students’ curiosity and enthusiasm spark when placed in a new learning environment. My hope is that through positive outdoor experiences, students will feel inspired to be lifelong stewards of the planet.Heidi MacNaughton

I value community connections, where my students can work alongside and understand the purpose of community organizations that speak for the environment.  As my students develop a strong sense of place, I hope this provides them with the drive to take action and become a voice for wild places even if that place is right outside their backdoor. Jayde Prudden