Alton Baker Park School Nature Walks
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"The students enjoyed every single stop, explanation, demonstration, and story. We will come back next year." -- Teacher, Buena Vista Elementary
Walk on the Wild Side!
Watch herons fish in the river and see wildflowers in bloom. Catch insects in the ponds and hear the music of songbirds. School children are invited to join us on weekdays in the fall or spring for morning nature walks in the Whilamut Natural Area of Alton Baker Park.
Our knowledgeable and talented guides use nature games, hands-on exploring, and stories to make each walk educational and age-appropriate. Walk groups are always small (seven to nine kids) so kids get lots of individual attention.
Note: Non-school youth groups or families hosting birthday parties are welcome to request walks with us during non-school hours and seasons.
Morning Nature Walk Themes
Link your walk to topics you are exploring in class or with your youth group. Choose from:
- Critter Quest Walks (1st-5th graders) – On these morning field trips, kids will spend half of their time using pond dipping nets to look for aquatic critters and half of their time on a wildlife-themed nature walk. Life cycles, adaptations, and camouflage are some of the topics that will be addressed.
- River Quest Walks (1st-5th graders) – On these morning water-themed walks, kids will visit the Willamette River to see the water cycle in action, learn about local watersheds, and check out riparian plants and animals. They will also learn about the relationship between people and rivers.
- Kalapuya Quest Walks (3rd-5th graders) – On these morning Kalapuya-themed walks, kids will explore the park and learn how the Kalapuya people historically used native plants and animals for shelter, food, and clothing. These walks will also cover Kalapuya transportation, traditions, language, and stories.
- Nature Detectives Walks (1st-5th graders) – On these morning nature walks, kids will use all of their nature-detecting senses and observation skills to explore Alton Baker Park. We'll look for signs that plants and animals are waking up for spring or getting ready for winter! We'll learn about whatever fascinating discoveries your students make and try to solve whatever mysteries inspire their curiosity.
Learnscape Adventures (pre-school-5th graders) – On these morning nature adventures, kids will visit our Learnscape Garden and Outdoor Classroom area in the heart of Alton Baker Park. At the Learnscape, kids will enjoy garden activities in our Edible Classroom, a session of cooperative games/supervised free nature play, and storytelling in the Hazelnut Hollow. (Note: we have limited availability for this program and can serve only one class per day.)
- Kinder Quest Walks (pre-school-kindergarten). On these morning nature walks, young children will get to know nature nearby through games, nature tales, and hands-on activities that engage all of their senses. Walks will be appropriately paced for the age of your students. If you have a specific topic you would like us to address, feel free to ask.
- Nearby Nature Afternoon Adventures (12-2 pm): Treat your 1st-5th grade students to a whole day of discovery by adding a Nearby Nature afternoon of adventure to their outdoor learning experience. After their morning nature walk, your students will split into larger groups and spend two hours enjoying pond study (kids use dip nets themselves) and Earth Art (click here for a photo album of this activity).
- Earth to Sky (noon-1 pm) – After their morning nature walks (any topic is okay), your 1st-5th grade students will enjoy a planetarium show at the Science Factory. Various planetarium show topics are available and will be provided to interested teachers. Planetarium visits cost $3 per child. Some scholarship assistance is available from the Science Factory. Nearby Nature manages these funds for this program and will assign grants as available.
School Programs Cost (fall/spring): Morning nature walks for 1st-5th graders cost $3.50 per child. Kinder Quest walks cost $3 per child. Afternoon Adventures for 1st-5th graders are an additional $3.25 per child. Scholarships are available, click here.
Non-School Group or Birthday Walks Cost: Non-school nature walks cost $4 per child with a minimum charge of $60 per group.
Capacity: We can serve up to 64 kids per day during our school program sessions. For youth groups and birthday parties, we can serve up to 50 kids per adventure. All groups must bring one adult chaperone for each seven to nine kids.
School Program Times: K-5th grade walks run from 9:30-11:45 am. Unless other plans are made, K-5th grade students eat lunch during their walks. Kinder Quest walks can be shortened if desired. Optional Afternoon Adventures run from 12-2 pm. Optional Earth to Sky Programs run from 12-1 pm. Times can be modified for different school schedules.
Non-School Group or Birthday Walk or Times: Non-school and birthday walks last one-two hours. Times are subject to volunteer availability.
Location: Alton Baker Park is accessible by LTD, school bus, car, or bike. School programs begin in front of the Science Factory (2300 Leo Harris Pkwy.). Parking is available. Non-school programs begin in the same spot or outside the Alton Baker Park Host Residence or Yurt. Note: If you are only planning a morning walk with Nearby Nature, we suggest you contact the Science Factory for an afternoon tour (541-682-7888).
To register for a school nature walk click here.
Thanks to a variety of funders over the years (including EWEB, the Staples Foundation for Learning, the US Bankcorp Foundation, the Siletz Tribal Charitable Contribution Fund, and Pacific Continental Bank) and donors to Nearby Nature's Scholarship Fund, scholarship funding is available for our school nature walks program. Information about scholarships is available by clicking here.
Information for Teachers
If you are a teacher who is currently registered for a nature walk field trip in Alton Baker Park, click here for downloadable copies of registration materials.
If you would like to see how our field trips align with current Science and Social Studies standards, click here.