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Nature Guides Overview

Thanks for your interest in Nearby Nature’s volunteer guides program! If you love being outdoors, enjoy working with kids, and want to make a difference in your community, then this opportunity is perfect for you. Please fill out a Volunteer Questionnaire so we know you’re interested


Nearby Nature believes every child should have a chance to connect with nature nearby – a place right near home that can be explored time and time again. Kids who play and learn outside are healthier and happier, both in mind and body. Think for a moment – where did YOU first connect with nature? A tree in your back yard? An empty lot down the street? Your grandma’s garden? Probably it was somewhere nearby!


Through our school walks program, trained volunteers share nature in Alton Baker Park with children from all over the community every year. Thanks to this program, plus the many others we sponsor, local kids spend tens of thousands of hours outside every year! We welcome and encourage the participation of all community members in our work and invite you to be part of this important program. Your options as a nature walks volunteer are described below.

  • Morning Nature Walks Guide: Start your day off with a walk in the Heron Woods, a stroll along Beaver Way, or a visit to Willow Point! On weekday mornings (9-11:45 am) from mid-April through mid-June and late September through mid-November, volunteer guides lead small groups of six to nine K-5th graders on interactive nature adventures in Alton Baker Park. Topics covered range from aquatic wildlife and river ecology to Kalapuya life and lore. Guides use science, nature games, stories, and hands-on exploration to help kids discover, learn, and grow.
  • Critter Quest Pond Study Leader: On many weekday mornings, volunteers host pond study activities for larger groups (15-30 kids). Interested guides can help with pond study in addition to walks. Occasionally, volunteers who are not available to lead walks assist only with pond study.
  • Afternoon Adventures Leader: On some afternoons (12-2 pm), volunteers help with our extended Afternoon Adventures program. During this time, volunteers lead groups of 15-30 kids in pond study, nature art, or games. Occasionally, volunteers who are unable to lead morning walks help only with this part of our program.
  • Classroom Visits Assistant: Many schools scheduled for field trips also get a pre or post-walk classroom visit from Nearby Nature in the late fall, winter, or early spring. Nature guides are invited to help with these visits. A separate training is held for this program.


Every April and September, Nearby Nature conducts field training sessions in Alton Baker Park for new nature guides. You don’t have to be a seasoned naturalist or teacher to lead walks. We’ll provide you with all the knowledge and teaching tools you’ll need to be a great guide.

What will guide training cover? Our educational and entertaining field sessions cover wildlife, plants, water ecology, conservation, games, stories, teaching techniques, and park safety. Printed materials are provided for each training session. Before leading your first “real” walk, you will also “shadow” an experienced guide as they one of the season’s first nature walks.

Details about upcoming trainings will be provided to volunteer nature guide applicants who fill out our Volunteer Questionnaire and are also available on our Events Calendar.


Once you have successfully completed guide training, we ask that you lead at least one weekday walk or pond study session a week, from 9-11:45 am. Guides are welcome to help with additional walks, afternoon activities, or school visits as well. If you do not have time to complete our whole training program or are unable to lead morning walks, you are invited to help with pond study, Afternoon Adventures, or other Nearby Nature programs.


Students are welcome to arrange credit if desired through individual professors, the UO Holden Center, the UO Career Development Center, the LCC Cooperative Education Program, or other appropriate local college departments. Volunteer internships are available for students as well as other community members. All internships remain open until filled. Contact Nearby Nature staff at 541-687-9699 or, or see Internships for job descriptions.


As a special thanks, we offer our nature guide volunteers a Nearby Nature T-shirt, our guide training manual, and coverage for their required background check. Guides are welcome, but not required, to help defray the cost of their T-shirt, binder, and background check with a contribution of $25.


Contact Nearby Nature staff at 541-687-9699 or MISSION