Group programs at Smith and Bybee Wetlands Natural Area
For youth groups, Metro offers a standard program at Smith and Bybee Wetlands that includes three main activities. All programs include learning basic wildlife watching skills passed down by native trackers and scouts. Trackers-in-training look for the animals themselves, as well as evidence they have left behind – tracks, scat, trails, nests, chews on trees, etc. They'll get to know the birds by seeing and hearing them. From April through July, they are likely to see Western painted turtles during sunny weather.
In the spring, groups watch the small animals living in the lakes, the "water bugs." Participants will gently catch water bugs for a closer look using magnifying glasses. They will discuss the relationships between the different critters and construct a food web. They will also see some ducks and herons. If conditions are not good for the water bugs activity, attendees will look at pelts (preserved skins) of some of the natural area's most common mammals. Seeing and touching mammal pelts up close helps with identify live animals in the wild.
In all programs, nature leads the way; nature educators focus on what the group encounters that day. Custom programs can sometimes be provided for a group with a special interest. Group programs last about two hours.
Group trips at Oxbow Regional Park
An animal tracker can read the ground like an open book. Who left that footprint? Was it a bear, a fox or an otter? When were they here? Why did they pass this way? Discover how to identify animal tracks and to interpret their meaning as we search for stories in the sand on the banks of the Sandy River. Handle real track casts and beaver chews, and play tracking games. (Available in 2-hour or 3-hour versions; long version for ages 12 to adult.)
Head down to the Sandy River to discover wildlife living in and around the water. Get your hands wet as you catch and release aquatic bugs and crayfish. Magnifiers are provided for a closeup view of creatures like the giant stone fly, the green rock worm and the fall caddis fly. A summertime favorite! Note: Participants do not enter the water during this program. Participants' feet stay on land and the program is conducted on the bank of the river in an area with slow-moving shallow water. It’s a very safe program. (Available in 90 minute or 2-hour versions.)
Ancient forest hike
Experience the wonder of an old-growth forest with all your senses. Hike in the cool shade of towering trees, taste the wild edibles of summer and hear the song of the winter wren. Program includes the basics of ancient forest ecology, tree and animal sign identification and birdsongs. (Available in 90 minute or 3-hour versions.)
Get lost! Could you survive? The goal of this program is to develop the edge needed to stay alive in a real survival situation. Topics can include shelter building, finding safe drinking water, making fire without matches and feeding yourself with nature's bounty. (Available in 2-, 3- or 4-hour versions.)
The ancient geologic story of the Sandy River Gorge is the backdrop for this hiking program. Explore volcanic mudslides, ancient stumps of mystery, a buried forest and beautiful views of the Sandy River from high on Alder Ridge. (Available in 2-hour or 4-hour versions; best for children in fourth grade or higher.)
The secret language of birds
Have you ever wondered what birds are saying when they chirp and sing? Ancient peoples depended on the birds to know when predators were hiding up ahead on the trail, or to tell them when people were coming. You can, too! Look and listen for our feathered friends, discover their secret language and play fun awareness games in the woods. (2-hour program; a longer version is available for adults.)
Plants alive! People and the plants.
How did native peoples use the trees and plants to survive? Dive into the amazing world of plants as you explore their edible, medicinal and craft uses in an ancient forest. Sample wild edibles as you hike through the Ancient Forest or make cordage from western red cedar or stinging nettle. (2 hours)
Salmon viewing walk
Greet the wild fall Chinook salmon as they return to their place of birth here on the Sandy River. Walk along the river to observe real salmon on their spawning grounds. A nature educator will guide the way as you learn about the journey of the salmon and examine real salmon eggs. Polarized viewing glasses provided. (2 hours, from October through Nov. 7 only)
Questions and answers
How to schedule a group program
To schedule a group program at Oxbow Regional Park or any other Metro park or natural area, contact Ashley Conley at 503-663-0238 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
To schedule a group program at Smith and Bybee Natural Area, contact Alice Froehlich at 503-972-8545 or email@example.com.
Program spaces fill quickly, so plan ahead, ideally at least three months in advance of your desired date range.
What size group can I bring?
Field trips are designed for groups of 10 to 25. Larger groups often can be accommodated if coordinated with the nature educator well in advance.
How much time do I need to allow for the group outing?
Most programs are between 90 minutes and 2 hours (not including travel time or lunch). Larger groups may require more time.
How much does it cost?
Program fee is:
- $25 for 1-20 people
- $50 for 21-50 people
- $75 for 51 or more people.
Additional vehicle fee at Oxbow Regional Park is $7 per bus or $5 per vehicle, payable at the park entrance on arrival.
Can our group visit sites on our own?
Yes. If you would like to arrange your own group trip to a Metro park or natural area without a nature educator, you must obtain an education special use permit in advance. There is a $40 application fee, but the permit is free for most groups and is easy to obtain.