Our History

"Sierra Outdoor School was constructed in 1965 as part of the Economic Opportunity Act signed into law on August 20th 1964, by President Lyndon B. Johnson.  The site was designed to house the newly formed Job Corps program which was a major constituent of President Johnson’s war on poverty. The Job Corps program provided general and vocational educational training for young people ages sixteen through twenty-one.

The Five Mile Job Corps site was located on a portion of the Stanislaus National Forest and serve young men in a residential setting. The key philosophy of the Job Corps program was to get young people away from their home environment where they could focus on skill development and prepare themselves for the work force as well as be productive members of society. The majority residents of the Five Mile site hailed from urban areas on the east coast.

In late 1969, funding for the Five Mile site dried up and it was converted into an Administrative site for the US Department of Forestry, Stanislaus National Forest. During this time the site was offered for lease to various agencies; none of which were interested in utilizing the site. The site Superintendent contacted a friend in the Fresno County Office of Education and described the facility. From that conversation the model for an outdoor environmental education program was created.

From 1970 through 1988 the Fresno County Office of Education operated, what was then called the Regional Learning Center, under a long term lease from the Stanislaus National Forest. In the spring of 1988 the Fresno County Office of Education decided they could no longer operate the facility. With that in mind it was again offered up to various agencies.

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In the fall of 1988, under the direction of Dr. Floyd B. Buchanan, Superintendent, the lease of the Regional Learning Center from the Forest Service was redirected to Clovis Unified School District. For years the outdoor education program was grown and cultivated. However, the site was becoming worn down. While CUSD could provide general maintenance capital improvements could not be made because the site was not owned by CUSD. The decision to obtain the site from the USFS was made in 1991. Unfortunately, Gulf War I prevented any action from taking place.

In October 2001 the process of conveyance of the site was taken up again. With the assistance of Congressman George Radanovich, a bill, HR 3401 was put together. Senator Diane Feinstein co-sponsored the Senate version of the bill. On December, 17 2002 President George W. Bush signed the conveyance of 27.10 acres to CUSD. Since that time we have changed the name of the facility to Sierra Outdoor School at Five Mile Creek (or SOS). Clovis Unified School District has made major site and building improvements to ensure that the outdoor science program continues for years to come. It is estimated that the environmental education program has served in excess of 300,000 students."

Excerpt from "50 Unified Years: Building a Tradition of Excellence in Clovis Unified Before, During and After Unification"

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