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Parks & Recreation

Healthy Parks, Healthy Portland

Phone: 503-823-PLAY (7529)

Fax: 503-823-6007

1120 SW Fifth Ave., Suite 1302, Portland, OR 97204

School & Group Programs

Organize a program for your classroom through City Nature Environmental Education!


Supplement or compliment classroom learning with a hands-on experience in one of Portland's Parks or Natural Areas. 

Give your students an exciting learning experience in nature! Our naturalists are highly trained and experienced (many holding or pursuing advanced degrees in education and/or ecological topics). Lessons contain a combination of large group learning, small group exploration, and individual engagement. We believe in:

  • Helping children, youth, and teens find a personal connection to nature.
  • Modeling and teaching about a sense of stewardship toward our parks and natural areas.
  • Being outside in any kind of weather! 

What's included?

  • Hands-on lessons that meet Next Generation Science Standards
  • Equipment (for example, magnifying lenses)
  • Instruction to meet your students' age, needs, and interests
  • Low student to staff ratio (usually 12-14 students per naturalist)
  • Some field trips have accompanying handouts
  • Optional classroom program to prepare for the field trip

When are programs offered?
From Labor Day through Memorial Day on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays between 9:30am and 1:30pm. We may be able to offer a program later in the day or on a weekend if staff are available. Unfortunately, due to our summer camp schedule we are unable to offer field trips in the summer. We are no longer accepting applications for the Spring season! However, we are now accepting applications for the Fall season which begins on September 6, 2016!

What does it cost?
We prefer to work with a maximum of 36 students at a time, and can certainly work with less. However, there is a 12 student minimum charge.
60 minutes = $5.00/student (great for Preschool and Kindergarten students. Another great option is a Ladybug Walk as a preschool field trip! Click HERE for more information!)
90 minutes = $6.50/student  (great for grades K-8)
120 minutes = $8.00/student (great for grades 6-12 or groups desiring more learning time on the trail)

Interested in service learning?
We offer stewardship projects for students in 3rd grade and up. We can work with 1 class (up to 36 students) when a field trip is paired with a stewardship project. Students will spend one hour with one of our Stewardship Coordinators & an hour with our naturalists (total length of program is 2 hours). Lesson goals will vary depending on site, but will include importance of stewardship, habitat components, interconnectedness and human impacts. Students may remove invasive plants or plant natives. These programs cost $5/student.

How do I schedule a program?
Arranging a program takes time. Please allow at least a full month for coordination.

  1. Download the Program Application.
  2. After looking over the application, if you have questions call and leave a message at any time for Guru-Surya K. Khalsa at 503-823-3601 or email her at She will return messages in the order received (please keep in mind that she works part time).
  3. Fill in the form and SAVE AS: "Your full Name_EE Program Application.pdf"
  4. Attach the saved form in an email to
  5. Once we have your application we will work to find naturalists. Once we have staff scheduled you will receive a contract.
  6. Sign and return the contract with partial (or full) payment to secure the date(s).

Supplemental Classroom programs
Classroom programs are only offered in conjunction with field trips and are conducted prior to going in the field. We charge $60 for the first hour and $20 for each additional hour. This can be a great way to get students ready for the field component.

Limited funds for field trips?
Schools receiving Title 1 funds are eligible for a discount for programs. Please call our office for cost break-down (503-823-3601).
Other options for schools looking for low- or no-cost programming:
Grant Opportunities through Target
Grant Opportunities through Gray Family Foundation
Funding Opportunities through Oregon GEAR UP
Learning Landscapes through PP&R's Urban Forestry may be a great option for schools! Instead of doing a field trip, the learning can come to you!

Where are field trips located?
We will work with you to select a park or natural area that fits the needs of the program topic. Please look at our list of common Field Trip and Ladybug Walk sites

What topics are covered on the field trip? 
We have a variety of topics that help teach participants about the specific features of our parks & natural areas. We aim to connect ecological topics with the appropriate sites throughout the city, while at the same time also connecting our lessons to NGSS, choosing the appropriate grade level, and aligning them with typical science units. Find the list of common topics here