Skip to Main Content View Text-Only

The City of Portland, Oregon

Portland Parks & Recreation

Healthy Parks, Healthy Portland

Phone: 503-823-7529

1120 SW Fifth Avenue, Portland, OR 97204

More Contact Info

Environmental Education

  • Ladybug Walks (ages 2–6) Drop-in nature walks every Friday (and some Thursdays) at 10:00am.

  • Summer Nature Day Camp 2019 (ages 4–12) Plus volunteer and paid summer employment opportunities for ages 13 and up.

  • GRUNT (ages 13–15) Greenspaces Restoration and Urban Naturalist Team

Portland Parks & Recreation offers diverse environmental experiences in our city's parks and natural areas. Classes, guided walks, camps, volunteer opportunities, naturalist training, trail/tree maintenance jobs, and special events focus on the stewardship and connection to our forest, grassland, and water ecosystems throughout the city. From young children to older adults, people of all ages can find active involvement with nature close to home.

Environmental Education Office

Kelly Rosteck, Coordinator for Environmental Education, Teens/Young Adults

Chrissy Larson, Coordinator for Environmental Education, Early Childhood/Youth/Families

Portland Parks & Recreation engages the next generation of environmental leaders through volunteer naturalist training, paid work programs, science-based field trips and stewardship. Check out our many programs below for more information!

If your child is... Then check out...
Age 2-5 Preschool Nature Walks, Summer Nature Camps, and Lil' Nature Kids 
Age 5-12 Summer Nature Camps and Ecology-based School Field Trips
Age 13-21 GRUNT and  Youth Conservation Crew

Ladybug Walks (ages 2-6) - Children + a grown-up

For toddlers, preschoolers, and their grown-ups. Explore nature in Portland parks with trained naturalists! All walks begin at 10:00 AM on Thursdays and Fridays, mid-February through mid-November, rain or shine. $3-8 per participating child (sliding scale), no charge for adults. For more info, call 503-823-3601.

Lil' Nature Kids (ages 3-5) - Drop-off Program

It's proven - young children need nature! Research supports it: time in nature as a young child with trusted adults increases creativity, focus, coordination, and social development. During our experiential ecology lessons in Portland's Parks & Natural areas, children learn about Pacific NW ecology through songs, stories, exploration, and unstructured play. Lesson topics vary depending on the season, weather, and interest level of the children. Monday mornings at Mt. Tabor Park (Winter and Spring sessions available)

True Nature: Mentoring and Community Building (ages 4-12 and their families)

This class - with fall, winter and spring sessions - is for children ages 4-12, and their families! Guided by trained adult mentors, True Nature fosters connection to place, others and self. Classes meet at Mt. Tabor Park, rain or shine, and utilize exploration, stories, songs, and curiosity to develop a strong sense of place. The learning is in the doing!

GRUNT (13-15) - Greenspaces Restoration and Urban Naturalist Team

GRUNT is a FREE volunteer environmental science, stewardship and job skills program that connects youth to nature, environmental careers & college programs. Graduates receive ongoing support applying for paid jobs with Portland Parks & Recreation.   GRUNT meets for two weeks in the summer, and then 1-2 Saturdays a month throughout the next school year. See the application for this year's dates!

Eligibility: Ages 13-15

Youth Conservation Crew (ages 14-18) - YCC

YCC is an environmental job program. Not only will you work hard protecting nature in the City, but you will also discover exciting careers in natural resources, develop job skills, and experience some of the most beautiful places in Oregon. There are five different types of jobs: Community Gardens, Tree Crew, Trail Crew, No Ivy League, and Teen Naturalist Team.

Eligibility: Youth ages 14 through 18

Field trips and Group Programs - Ages 3-6 (Private Ladybug Walks) or Ages 4+ (Hands-on Ecology)

Looking for a way to complement your classroom learning topics? Contact us to custom design a school field trip and get your students outdoors! Lessons are taught by experienced teachers in small groups and help bring ecological concepts alive with hands-on activities, games, exploration, and hiking. Information about rates and topics can be found on our School and Group Programs page. Call 503-823-3601 to chat about available dates and lesson possibilities.