Nature’s Classroom

Experience the majesty of an old-growth forest only minutes from downtown Portland! Explore our incredible 172-acre sanctuary as you hike along with an experienced Portland Audubon Naturalist. Discover the many animals living in and around the protected Balch Creek watershed and our sanctuary’s pond, then walk into a stand of old-growth forest. Students’ senses will be filled with the smell of the forest, the sounds of birds calling and mammals scurrying about the forest floor and trees.

In Nature’s Classroom, your group will join one of our experienced educators on guided activities at our Nature Sanctuary for a group of kids of elementary and middle school age. Whether you are a teacher, homeschool parent, scout troop leader, pod school, afterschool group, family or youth group of friends, this program will get you out to discover nature! We’ll see wildlife and their signs, engage in hands-on activities and explore everything that the forest has to offer. Customize your program by choosing from one of the four theme options below to augment your group’s science and environmental education needs, designed to correlate with NGSS and STEM requirements.

Fee: $150
Time: Flexible, 2-hour program, Monday – Friday
Where: Portland Audubon’s Nature Sanctuary
Grades: 1-8
Capacity: Up to 10 students, 1 teacher/chaperone

To book, please email Tara Lemezis, Education Registrar:

Theme Options

Plants of the Pacific Northwest

Trees, shrubs and flowers, oh my! Investigate the role plants play in animal habitats, and ours. Learn to identify a few of our region’s most iconic plants while you discover what animals depend on these plants and how humans have utilized them throughout history. Engage with native flora by touch, smell, and sometimes taste! You’ll learn about the variety of plants around us, what makes a plant grow and bloom, and why they’re important to the forest’s landscape.

A student holding up a plant in the wildlife sanctuary at Marmot Cabin, photo by Abby Vanleuven.

Amazing Mammals

What makes a mammal a mammal? What makes these animals so special? From fur to skulls and feet, we’ll discover the many adaptations and characteristics that make mammals so amazing! We’ll search for a variety of signs along the trails that are clues to their survival strategies and use our unique collection of mammal pelts and artifacts for hands-on learning that promotes interpretation and deeper exploration.

Coyote, photo by Hayley Crews

Creatures of the Night

When you are fast asleep at night, what kind of animals are scurrying about wide awake? Come along for a discovery hike on the trails in Portland Audubon’s Nature Sanctuary to discover how nocturnal creatures like bats, owls, skunks and others have adapted to survive and thrive at night! This program is sure to instill an appreciation for our nocturnal neighbors, uncovering the unique niche they occupy in the natural world.


Northern Pygmy Owl, photo by Steve Young

Sensing the Forest

Explore the great outdoors classroom using the same tools animals use every day for survival – the five senses! Listen to birds, find subtle colors in nature, touch different plants and rocks, walk blindfolded through the forest to practice and immerse yourself in nature with activities that challenge you to hone your lesser used senses! Get ready for a super sensory forest adventure!

A child exploring the beauty of the forest, photo by Ali Berman