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Bull Run Watershed school field trips

Test water quality, tour a 1929 dam, and learn how forests help protect drinking water during this full-day school field trip. Grades 3–12. 
On this page

Request a field trip for your classroom

Teachers, please email waterbureaueducation@portlandor… to request a field trip.

In your email, include the following:

  • Name of your school or program
  • Grade level and number of students
  • Schedule preference
  • Name of contact
  • Best way to reach you

Not a teacher? We also offer Bull Run tours in the summer and fall for anyone who wants to sign up as an individual or with a small group.

Preparing for your field trip

Wear clean shoes or boots

To protect water quality, please clean your shoes before the tour. Sometimes shoes can transport fecal matter (from dogs, cats, cows, etc.) or seeds from invasive plants.

Wear layers and comfortable walking shoes

Weather in the watershed can be cooler and wetter than in Portland, so bring layers and plan for rain.

Make sure all students and adults have lunch and water

We encourage participants to bring reusable water bottles that can be refilled during the field trip.

Consider the restroom situation

Restrooms can be up to two hours apart. If limited restroom availability presents an issue for you, please contact us to discuss.

Bring a signed waiver

All participants, including teachers, students, and chaperones, must bring a signed waiver. All adults must also show photo identification.

  • If you're under 18, have your parent or guardian fill out the waiver. You don't need to show photo identification.
  • If you're 18 or over, bring your waiver and be prepared to show us photo identification.

Bring any medication your school asks you to bring on a remote field trip (students' EpiPens, inhalers, etc.)

The tour area is remote. Water Bureau staff carry emergency radios and are trained in first aid. However, cell phones do not work and emergency care can be more than an hour away.

Read these guidelines about protecting the drinking water

We require that participants:

  • Refrain from smoking, vaping, or using e-cigarettes.
  • Do not touch the water or put anything in the water.
  • Use only the restroom facilities provided.
  • Take home any trash. Littering—or putting any foreign material on the land—is prohibited.
  • Stay with the group at all times.

Field trip FAQs

What time of year do you offer field trips?

Our spring season takes place April-June. Our fall season takes place September-November.

How long is the field trip?

Please plan to spend a full school day with us (six to seven hours). Here's a sample schedule:

  • School starts, meet at your school, board the bus
  • Spend the 90-minute bus ride learning about Portland's drinking water system
  • Eat lunch
  • Do three activity rotations:
    • Test the turbidity (a water quality measurement) of reservoir water
    • Walk in the forest and learn about how it helps protect water quality
    • Tour the city's 1929 concrete dam
  • Board the bus
  • School ends, arrive back at school

How do we get there?

Please work with us to schedule a school bus. Different districts will do this differently; contact us to discuss.

Can we carpool?

No. Because of strict water quality protection in the Bull Run Watershed, private vehicles are not allowed.

Can two classes go on the same day?

Our space and activities can accommodate one class (25–30 students) and seven adults (teachers and chaperones). If you have fewer than 15 or more than 35 students, please contact us to discuss.

How much does it cost?

The field trip itself is free; schools are responsible for the cost of transportation. If transportation costs present a challenge for your school, please contact us to discuss.