City Nature Explorers Classes (Grades 1-5)

Information
A group of children pose with their butterfly crafts.
Learn about nature in an outdoor classroom! Ecology-based classes led by nature educators meet in parks and natural areas. Lessons include observation, exploration, reflection, and play.
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COVID-19 Update - Face Coverings

Beginning Saturday, March 12, 2022, Portland Parks & Recreation (PP&R) will no longer require staff and visitors to use face coverings in all PP&R buildings and facilities. Staff and visitors who still wish to wear face coverings may do so, at their own choosing. 
 

Summer Registration Update 

General registration for summer classes begins May 23, 2022 at 12:30pm!

Early Registration: As part of our Parks Levy commitment, we are working to improve access for underserved communities, which include but are not limited to people of color, seniors, teens, households experiencing poverty, immigrants and refugees, and people living with disabilities. PP&R provides information to local community organizations who share early registration opportunities with their community members. 

Interested organizations can email parks.recreation@portlandoregon.gov to register as partners or to learn more.

Early Registration is available one week prior to general registration at 12:30 pm. Partner organizations and their community members can inquire about early registration through the Customer Service Center (503-823-2525) or by calling or visiting a recreation or arts center. 


City Nature Explorers classes 

Parks are a magical place to learn about science and nature. City Nature Explorers classes create ways for children in grades 1-5 to get curious, ask questions, explore, and learn through play. Topics include birds, mammals, plants, invertebrates, pollinators, and more. Trained nature educators encourage children to share their own stories and make their own observations in nature. Lessons make space for both individual and group learning, incorporating games, discussion, and observation. 

City Nature Explorers classes are hands-on, connected to science, and created with children in mind:

  • Topics include common plants, local animals, and everyday concepts. 
  • Lessons are in small groups and include lots of time for hiking and exploring.
  • Science and nature topics are age-appropriate. 
  • Classes are active, social, and playful. 
  • Our educators make learning interesting and fun!

Classes are 100% outdoors at a local park or natural area and take place rain or shine!


COVID-19: Requirements to participate

All children and adults will need to be able to follow these guidelines to participate in a program:

  • Face coverings are not required in indoor or outdoor spaces. Staff and visitors who wish to wear face coverings may do so at their own choosing. 
  • Please only attend if everyone attending is healthy!
    • A five-day quarantine is still required for a person that has COVID-like symptoms (or tests positive). They may participate once symptoms are resolving and they have been fever-free for 24 hours. 
      • If anyone has a positive or presumptive case of COVID-19 or is awaiting results to a COVID test, they should not attend.
      • If anyone is sick with COVID-like symptoms, including new or worsening cough, fever, shortness of breath, or recent loss of taste or smell, they should not attend.
    • Quarantine due to exposure is no longer required. 
  • Follow general sanitation guidelines. All participants should wash or sanitize hands when they arrive, after using the bathroom, and after sneezing or coughing.

Pay What You Can 

Full cost of each class is $40 per child.

We know that cost may be a barrier to some members of our community. If you cannot pay the full cost, use the discounts during the check out process to reduce the cost by 25%, 50%, 75% or 90% per child. 


Summer 2022 Registration - Dates, locations, and registration links

General registration for summer classes begins Monday, May 23 at 12:30pm. 

Early Registration: As part of our Parks Levy commitment, we are working to improve access for underserved communities, which include but are not limited to people of color, seniors, teens, households experiencing poverty, immigrants and refugees, and people living with disabilities. PP&R provides information to local community organizations who share early registration opportunities with their community members. 

Interested organizations can email parks.recreation@portlandoregon.gov to register as partners or to learn more.

Early Registration is available one week prior to general registration at 12:30 pm. Partner organizations and their community members can inquire about early registration through the Customer Service Center (503-823-2525) or by calling or visiting a recreation or arts center. 

Click on the links below to register for an upcoming City Nature Explorers class. 

Summer City Nature Explorers classes
DateGrade LevelAgeLocationNature TopicTimeMeeting SpotActivity Number
June 22Gr 1-3Age 6-9Sellwood ParkInvertebrates10am-2pmMeet at picnic area "C" at Sellwood Park, across from the Sellwood Pool. Closest intersection is SE 7th Avenue and Miller Street.1145558
June 29Gr 3-5Age 8-11Sellwood ParkInvertebrates10am-2pmMeet at picnic area "C" at Sellwood Park, across from the Sellwood Pool. Closest intersection is SE 7th Avenue and Miller Street.1145563
July 6Gr 1-3Age 6-9Powell Butte Nature ParkPlants and Pollinators10am-2pmMeet at the visitor's center at Powell Butte Nature Park. From SE 162nd and Powell Boulevard, drive up the hill to the parking lot.1145569
July 13Gr 3-5Age 8-11Powell Butte Nature ParkPlants and Pollinators10am-2pmMeet at the visitor's center at Powell Butte Nature Park. From SE 162nd and Powell Boulevard, drive up the hill to the parking lot.1145570
July 20Gr 1-3Age 6-9Whitaker Ponds Natural AreaBirds10am-2pmMeet at the covered gazebo at Whitaker Ponds Natural Area. Address is 7040 NE 47th Avenue1145581
July 27Gr 3-5Age 8-11Whitaker Ponds Natural AreaBirds10am-2pmMeet at the covered gazebo at Whitaker Ponds Natural Area. Address is 7040 NE 47th Avenue1145579
August 3Gr 1-3Age 6-9Mt Tabor ParkRocks and Volcanoes10am-2pmMeet at the east side picnic area (picnic area B) at Mt Tabor Park. Park near the intersection of SE 69th Avenue and Yamhill and walk about 300 ft up the hill toward the tennis courts & picnic tables1145584
August 10Gr 3-5Age 8-11Mt Tabor ParkRocks and Volcanoes10am-2pmMeet at the east side picnic area (picnic area B) at Mt Tabor Park. Park near the intersection of SE 69th Avenue and Yamhill and walk about 300 ft up the hill toward the tennis courts & picnic tables1145585
August 17Gr 1-3Age 6-9Hoyt Arboretum - Washington ParkHabitats10am-2pmMeet at the Stevens Pavilion across from the Visitor's Center at Hoyt Arboretum (4000 SW Fairview Boulevard)1145703
August 24Gr 3-5Age 8-11Hoyt Arboretum - Washington ParkHabitats10am-2pmMeet at the Stevens Pavilion across from the Visitor's Center at Hoyt Arboretum (4000 SW Fairview Boulevard)1145704

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Class behavior expectations

We try to make each class fun for everyone by asking participants to follow four expectations:

  1. Be safe (in your words and actions) 
  2. Be friendly (to yourself, to each other, to nature)
  3. Be an active participant (join activities, be open-minded, and be willing to try) 
  4. Listen (to the leaders, to each other, to nature)
  5. Have fun!

Additionally, Portland Parks requires that all participants refrain from the following:

  • All forms of harassment
  • Defacing property (structures, land or equipment)
  • Disruptive or disorderly behavior
  • Improper use of restrooms
  • Offensive physical contact
  • Inflicting harm or hurting self or others
  • Spitting
  • Using or being under the influence of any intoxicating substance
  • Using profanity, teasing or ridiculing others
  • Violation of any federal, state or local statute or ordinance

Steps taken when children start to display a pattern of negative behavior:

  1. Remind child  of the rules
  2. Redirect unsuitable behavior
  3. Switch children out of groups that seem to feed negative behavior
  4. Discuss any underlying issues with child
  5. Separate children for a time from the group
  6. Create a mutual behavior contract
  7. Reach out to parents or guardians for ideas and support

If above steps do not help, the camper will get two more chances to change their behavior:

  1. Verbal warning #1: Child is separated from the group as much as possible. Next steps are explained to the camper. 
  2. Verbal warning #2: Call made to parents to inform of the situation. The child has one more chance. At this point parents should be ready to pick up their child early if needed. 
  3. Done for the day: If negative behavior continues, calls are made to parents to come and take their child home early. Formal incident report is filled out and kept on file.  
  4. Done for the school year: If negative behaviors continue on another day of programming, parents will be called to pick up the child. The child will not be returning to class during this school year. 

If a child is sent home more than once due to negative or unsafe behavior, parents will be called to discuss refunds for any additional days of class.  

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What to bring to class

Our program is active, our parks are hilly, and we are outside the entire time. To help your child have a good day, get them packed up with what they need. 

Children should come to the program with the following:

  • Layers of clothing - warm layers in the fall and winter, light layers in the spring and summer
  • Rain coat, rain pants, rain boots during the rainy season
  • Close-toed shoes during the summer 
  • Substantial snack and hearty lunch - we will stop to eat along the trail
  • Water bottle (big enough to hold at least 16 oz of water)
  • Comfortable backpack that’s a logical size for your camper. It will hold snacks, lunch, a water bottle and extra layers. 
  • A completed health form for each child attending

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Policies: Air quality, extreme heat, lightning, wind, and inclement weather

Air Quality Issues– Due to the outdoor nature of our programs, we will make the best decisions for participants and staff in the event of poor air quality. If the air quality index (AQI) for the program location is forecasted to be listed as UNHEALTHY (AQI = 151 or higher) throughout the program according to purpleair.com and airnow.gov, the program will be canceled. Groups will receive a full refund or can reschedule if dates are available. Our program reserves the right to make decisions in real-time as conditions change.

Extreme Heat – If temperatures exceed 90 degrees, activities are modified and participants are offered extra water and electrolyte replacement drinks. If temperatures are predicted to hit or exceed 100 degrees during the hours of scheduled programming, programs are canceled. Refunds are given if participants miss a full day of programming. Our program reserves the right to make decisions in real-time as conditions change.

Lightning – Thunder and lightning are rare but can happen during certain months of the year. In the event of a lightning storm, groups are asked to walk or run to the nearest structure if it is safe to do so. If the storm is overhead and travel to a covered structure is unsafe, staff space participants out underneath the canopy of a medium-sized tree, having them squat down with only their feet touching the ground. As soon as they are able, the group continues toward the nearest structure for cover until the storm passes. 

High winds - If wind speeds are 25mph or more or there is a wind advisory for the area, programs will be canceled due to safety issues related to the possibility of falling tree debris.

Inclement Winter Weather – If local schools and/or the City of Portland issues a delay or closure due to snow, ice, or freezing temperatures, the program is canceled. If the temperature during the program is predicted to be below freezing or lower than 32°F at the selected location, the program will be canceled. Take note that programs scheduled at Mt Tabor and Hoyt Arboretum may experience inclement weather differently due to their higher elevations.