It's Our Nature outdoor immersion series
Places and activities
› nature immersion for adults
From March 2013 to March 2014, a group of adults immerse themselves in the region's natural areas, learning about natural history topics including geology, tracking, birding and ethnobotany in the second year of this field trip series.
Registration is full
It’s Our Nature 2013 is now full. Visit GreenScene online for other nature classes in the region. Go
Some people never stop learning. They ask questions, they investigate new places, they seek out experts who can answer their questions or introduce them to topics they never even thought to ask about. If you’re one of those people, then It’s Our Nature is for you. From bedrock to tree canopy, It’s Our Nature explores some of Metro’s 16,000 acres of wetlands, oak savannas and woodlands, Douglas fir forests and prairies. Lessons combine theory with place: each month, participants employ all five senses at sites that may include Smith and Bybee Wetlands, Clear Creek Natural Area, Oxbow Regional Park, Canemah Bluff, Tonquin Geologic Area and Mount Talbert and Cooper Mountain nature parks.
It’s Our Nature is limited to 20 adults (ages 18 and over) who can commit to attend at least 11 of the 13 classes, and who can learn outdoors – in all weather conditions and in a variety of terrain. Apart from the orientation, classes begin at varying times on weekend mornings and run into the early afternoon. Applications are assessed for the applicant’s level of interest and ability to commit to the program, and are reviewed on a first-come, first-served basis. No deposit is required. Tuition of $300 is due upon acceptance into the program. Orientation is scheduled for March 21, 2013.
Meet the naturalists
It’s Our Nature is taught by veteran Metro naturalists who together possess more than 75 years of field naturalist experience. By sharing their expertise about the region, the naturalists are creating a community of learners and nature enthusiasts who in turn can show others how to be careful stewards of the land and its inhabitants.
Dan Daly is a certified Level III tracker with a background in geology, bird language and wilderness skills.
- James Davis is an expert birder and the author of “The Northwest Nature Guide.” Davis was the first education director at the Audubon Society of Portland and has been an outdoor teacher for 35 years.
- Deb Scrivens is a certified tracker and has been a naturalist for 32 years, working for Metro and the National Park Service. Her specialties include forest ecology, salmon, bird language, tracking and botany, particularly ethnobotany.
Class schedule and descriptions
Classes are held on Saturdays and Sundays, except for orientation. Classes begin in the morning and end by mid afternoon. Start and end times vary depending on the topic. Locations are provided to class members.
6 to 8 p.m. Thursday, March 21
This first of the 12 meetings brings class members together at a local restaurant to meet, learn about the coming year’s outings, and plan carpool logistics.
Sunday, April 21
Songbirds are in constant dialogue about predators. Class members learn their language--the distinctly different movements and sounds birds use to announce the presence of different predators such as Cooper’s hawks, snakes or bobcats. Participants learn to move quietly, expand powers of observation, and perceive some of what songbirds perceive; a skill passed through generations of hunter-gatherer cultures. Scrivens
Saturday, May 11
This class covers botany basics; class members dissect flowers, dive into books used by professional botanists, and learn why plant families are a key for wildflower identification. Scrivens
Spring birding extravaganza
Saturday, May 25
The peak of spring bird migration is generally mid-April to mid-May. Not only do thousands of birds arrive daily, but year-round residents sing like crazy, in their finest breeding plumage. Smith and Bybee Wetlands is a major attraction to migrants passing through and the nesting destination for15 species of neo-tropical migrants. At S&B we will work on bird songs and points of bird identification, see Western painted turtles, and probably a few garter snakes. Davis
Sunday, June 23
Ethnobotany is the study of how humans use plants. Class members learn the ethics and safety protocols of plant harvest and get to know plants traditionally used for food, medicine, baskets, etc. They create cordage and tea from stinging nettles, take a plant identification walk and bring home a resource list for further study. Scrivens
Saturday, July 27
Since all arthropods (“bugs”) are ectotherms (cold-blooded), July is a peak of arthropod activity and diversity. At a Metro natural area we will look for all the bugs we can find in a variety of habitats, put them in appropriate jars and other containers, and then do our best at basic identification. Catching and putting the various arthropods in containers for the safety of the participants and the bugs keeps everyone happy. All specimens are released after observation. Davis
August: no class
Fundamentals of animal tracking
Saturday, Sept. 14
Tracking is the written language of the natural world. Animals’ life histories are etched on the landscape as they search for food, shelter and mates, and communicate territorial boundaries. Even beginners can start to read the ground’s stories. Daly
Sunday, Oct 13
Spicy scents of autumn trees, giant golden leaves on maples and the silvery chatter of water ouzels in the river. These are the smells, sights and sounds of fall at Oxbow Regional Park. Participants witness the return of wild salmon to one of the Pacific Northwest’s premier rivers – the glacier-fed Sandy. Deb shares what she has learned from many autumns with the salmon of the Sandy River. Scrivens
Beginning fungus identification
Saturday, Nov. 2
Autumn rains elicit the most astonishing “bloom” of the famously diverse fungi of the Northwest. Mushroom identification is a challenge. While we won’t be able to identifying every fungus found, you will learn the basic steps of mushroom identification, hopefully for learning how to find some yummy edible mushrooms in the future. Also bring mushrooms you have found before the class along to try to identify. Davis
Applied tracking skills
Sunday, Dec. 1
Following fresh footprints is one of tracking’s most challenging skill sets. Interpreting an animal’s trail brings insights into its story and its connection to the landscape. Go beyond the basics to enter the realms of trailing and interpretation, learning core skills needed to practice alone in the field or with friends. Daly
Geology in Oregon
Saturday, Jan. 25, 2014
Four hundred million years ago, the landscape now known as Oregon was open ocean. Oregon has been forged by earthquakes and floods, volcanoes and ancient island chains. Journey through geologic time to discover the epic events that make life in the Cascadia Subduction Zone what it is today. Daly
Winter birds: waterfowl and raptors
Saturday, Feb. 15, 2014
Winter is the prime time to see waterfowl and raptors. About 21 species of waterfowl (ducks, geese, and swans) are found in the Portland area, many more species than nest here in spring and summer. And raptors-- falcons, bald eagles and about a dozen species of hawks-- are easier to see in winter because populations swell in winter and trees are bare. Davis
End of class celebration: Habitat restoration work and potluck party
Saturday, March 15, 2014