Get Outside in Natural Areas and Trails
Natural Area Stewardship program
PP&R’s Natural Area Stewardship program works with volunteers of all ages and abilities to help improve Portland parks and natural areas, to provide habitat to wildlife and insects, and to provide safe trails for park visitors. The Natural Area Stewardship program is split into four areas: Columbia Slough Watershed (North and Northeast Portland), Johnson Creek Watershed (Southeast Portland), Westside Watersheds (Southwest and Northwest Portland), and Willamette River Watershed (East Willamette River Watershed and along the river). Volunteers coordinate events with PP&R staff, assist with community events, and perform hands-on work like planting and caring for plants, pulling nuisance weeds, removing litter, conducting community science, and more.
Trails Stewardship program
PP&R’s Trails Stewardship program focuses on stewardship and volunteer opportunities that improve and maintain 120 miles of soft-surface trails throughout the City of Portland's parks and natural areas. Volunteers assist with trail management, such as brushing, building and maintaining drains, building and repairing trailside fences, and more. Current opportunities include:
Get Active with Recreation Opportunities
Sports and Aquatics
We have many opportunities to get involved and support our sports and aquatics programs. Coaches and assistant coaches are needed for youth sports programs, Goldenball (basketball), and volleyball. We also need timers and monitors for track and field, cross country, and 5k fun runs. In summer, our Junior Lifeguard and Junior Swim Instructor programs are a great way for youth ages 11 to 14 to gain valuable leadership skills and learn everything they need to know to become future PP&R employees as certified lifeguards and swim instructors.
SUN Community Schools
Instructors, classroom aides, and homework club volunteers are needed in our SUN Community Schools. Activities may include preschool classes, arts and crafts, theater, fitness, sports, and music.
Weight room attendants, gym monitors, open play assistants, and classroom aides are needed throughout the year in community centers. During the summer, playground assistants support our Recreation professionals as they provide supervised fun at select parks around the city. Our Junior Leader summer program is open to youth ages 12 to 18, and is a great way to gain leadership skills and prepare teens for future employment with PP&R as day camp leaders.
Hike leaders plan and lead day hikes for our Lifelong Recreation program.
Current opportunities include:
Get Together for a Group Project
Organize a group volunteer project
Lead a team for a group activity in a park. Seasonal tasks may include raking leaves, spreading mulch, weeding shrub beds, and refreshing sports fields. Great projects for family, friends, co-workers, and students. We will provide a detailed plan and the tools and materials. You provide the labor and coordination. We have work for teams as small as five, and up to 100 volunteers.
One of our volunteer managers will help find the right opportunity for you.
Portland Parks & Recreation Volunteer Services
Plant and Care for Trees
Volunteers can get involved with PP&R's Urban Forestry work in many ways, including but not limited to the following roles, teams, and projects:
- Neighborhood Tree Steward
- Tree Inventory project
- Neighborhood Tree teams
- Portland Pruners program
- Summer Outreach program
Volunteers lead tree planting events, inventory street trees, care for trees, and perform community outreach about our Portland's urban forest.
Current opportunities include:
Keep Parks and Gardens Beautiful
What is a Developed Park?
Developed parks range in size from small parks like Cherry Park to the South Waterfront to Cathedral Park to Mt. Tabor. They are located throughout the city and include amenities like playgrounds, basketball and tennis courts, sports fields, dog off-leash areas, nature patches, and programming like Summer Free For All.
Plants in the Park Volunteers
Tend to plants in a local park with us! Caring for trees, flower beds, shrubs and other flora (a scientific word for plants) is a great way to connect with nature in the urban environment. Volunteers learn new skills and information, help keep parks clean from litter, meet people with similar interests in plants and horticulture, and support their community ecosystem. There are opportunities available for a range of ages and abilities.
Some volunteer activities include:
- Weeding and pruning
- Litter pick up
- Habitat restoration and preservation
- Mulching trees and flower beds
- Working in a nearby nature patch
- Installing new plant beds, pollinator or rain gardens
- Preparing rose gardens for different seasons
Portland Community Gardens have provided Portlanders with opportunities for improved physical and social well-being since 1975. There are 60 PP&R Community Gardens located throughout Portland, developed and operated by volunteers and Bureau staff, and offering a variety of activities.
Volunteer at a Nature Patch
Portland Parks & Recreation's Ecologically Sustainable Landscapes Initiative adds nature patches to park landscapes that provide natural experiences for people and habitat for wildlife. Nature patches are natural gardens that support native pollinators and offer opportunities for exploration.
Community Group Projects
These are unique projects that are larger in scale and typically require a little more time. We work with a variety of community groups to complete these stewardship events. If you are interested in participating in a project or organizing a project together, connect with us for more information!
Email Volunteer.Services@portlandoregon.gov and write Community Group Projects in the subject line.
Find a Friends Group
Already at work in your favorite park? We have dedicated Friends Groups across the city, helping us keep parks clean, green, and healthy. Check if your favorite park has a Friends Group you can join!
Community Service Hours
We have many opportunities that satisfy most community service requirements. A brief telephone screening is required to ensure proper placement and reporting.
Call 503-823-5121 or send an email listing the days and times to contact you.
School-based community service
Email Volunteer.Services@portlandoregon.gov and write "School Community Service" in the subject line.
Email Steve.Pixley@portlandoregon.gov and write "Court-Ordered Community Service" in the subject line.
Connect with a Friends Group
Friends Groups are made up of volunteers, neighbors, coworkers, and park lovers who come to a natural area or park on a regular basis (sometimes monthly, sometimes quarterly) to do hands-on restoration with the support of PP&R staff. While activities vary with the seasons, Friends Groups are regularly involved in removing invasive weeds, planting native plants, building fences, maintaining trails, picking up litter, observing plants and wildlife, and more.
PP&R supplies the gloves, tools, training, plants, and snacks. The Friends Group provides the people, smiles, laughs, energy, and advocacy for the long-term health and beauty of Portland's parks and natural areas.
Find a Friends Group
Get to know some of our existing Friends Groups here:
You can see where they work, what their goals are, who is involved, and what the schedules are for restoration events and meetings.
Learn about Partnership Opportunities
Community partners comprise a wide network of other governmental agencies, as well as community-based, nonprofit, and private organizations that align with PP&R across park and recreation focus areas. We may partner on grants or other projects, programs, and initiatives.
Community Partnership Program
Learn more about current grant partnerships and new grant opportunities through PP&R's Community Partnership Program. Grants provide targeted financial and in-kind support to partner organizations who bring knowledge, expertise, resources, and a focused approach to serving culturally specific communities.
Portland Parks Foundation
The Portland Parks Foundation was founded in 2001 to engage private philanthropy in improving Portland's parks and open space system. Since then, PPF has been involved in dozens of private/public partnerships, projects, and programs across the city. Learn more here.
Join an Advisory Group
Community volunteer advisory groups collaborate on projects and provide valuable insights on our diverse community needs and interests. By volunteering their time and expertise, these dedicated Portlanders contribute to making a difference in the lives of their fellow residents and play a vital role in supporting PP&R's mission.
Portland Parks Board
The Portland Parks Board advocates for parks on a city and regional basis to ensure that parks, natural areas, open spaces, and recreation facilities are advanced in planning and design. The Parks Board provides a forum for public discussion and decision-making about park issues, bringing a citywide and long-term perspective to neighborhood-based issues.