Learning Landscapes

Learning Landscapes provide an active learning opportunity for youth of all ages!

On this page

The Learning Landscapes program empowers students to plant trees at their schools with the assistance of Urban Forestry staff and volunteers. The school yard trees are identified and mapped so that students and community members can learn about different species of trees from the convenience of their own neighborhood. Developing a school arboretum will give students a hands-on learning experience that continues to grow along with the trees. In addition to the environmental and aesthetic benefits of trees, students will have opportunities to learn about:

  • Tree biology
  • Tree identification
  • Native trees
  • Watershed ecology
  • Climate change
  • Geography
  • and more!

Students will connect to their school and community by working together to improve their school grounds. In addition to watering and mulching, students will also be able to participate in ongoing projects. For example, measuring tree growth rates can help to determine which trees do best in Portland's climate. Students can also design maps and signs for the trees, helping the neighborhood learn more about the arboretum.

To learn more about creating a Learning Landscape at your school, please contact Molly Wilson at molly.wilson@portlandoregon.gov or at 503-823-4963.

About Learning Landscapes

Support from Portland Parks & Recreation

PP&R staff members are available to:

  • Help design the planting plan
  • Provide trees, tools, and planting support staff/volunteers on the planting day
  • Provide two years of summer watering and establishment care for the newly planted trees
  • Help secure supplies for long-term establishment of the newly planted trees

Leadership from the school

In order to plan a new Learning Landscape, the interested school needs to provide:

  • A main contact - A parent/staff/volunteer to help coordinate the tree planting and be responsible for the continued maintenance of the trees
  • Community support - A group of 5-10 dedicated volunteers to be present on the planting day and assist with periodic weeding and mulching throughout the first two summers
  • Student participation in the tree planting
  • Help developing a tree map for school and community use

See photos of Learning Landscapes at our Flickr page, and sign up for our Tree Bark newsletter for updates on Learning Landscape tours, maps and tree descriptions. Get inspired to build your own Learning Landscape with Learning Landscapes Tree Planting Typology and Best Practices by Michelle Mathis.