Many people deepen their connection to nature by enjoying a nature education class or participating in a volunteer opportunity. These types of experiences provide guided introductions, group camaraderie and opportunities to learn something new about plants, wildlife, or history in the region’s parks, trails, natural areas and historic cemeteries.
Throughout the year, Metro’s nature educators help students of all ages discover nature close to home. From field trips to the ancient forest at Oxbow Regional Park to twilight hikes at Smith and Bybee Wetlands Natural Area to mushroom hunts and campfire demonstrations, there’s no single way to connect with the outside world.
Over the past several years, Metro has worked on a new approach to its community nature activities, with the goal of making them more inclusive. Working with communities of color, Metro co-creates culturally specific and relevant education and stewardship activities. Through hands-on activities like planting and caring for trees and native plants, understanding invasive species, community science projects and plant gatherings, these experiences provide opportunities to connect to each other, build reciprocal relationships with the land, create a sense of belonging and learn about plants, wildlife, and history in the region’s parks, trails, natural areas and historic cemeteries.
The community education and stewardship program began a strong return after COVID shuttered many of its programs in 2020-2021. The education program saw 200 more youth particpants than the previous year. The volunteer stewardship program more than doubled the number of volunteer hours put into planting and other projects at Metro's parks and cemeteries.