Upcoming nature events in Portland

— Please check for any schedule changes or registration requirements —

List of Summer Camp 2017 opportunities

Upcoming OMSI Science Pubs about ice age floods, the total solar eclipse, volcanoes, and PNW geology

Upcoming Intertwine Regional Eco-Blitz events

Upcoming events with the Friends of Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge (in WA)

Upcoming Sunday Parkways events around the city

Upcoming community paddles with the Lower Columbia Estuary Partnership

Nature classes at Portland area parks from Tinkergarten

Discovery Hikes with the Forest Park Conservancy

Family-friendly hikes with Friends of the Columbia River Gorge (click on the family-friendly filter to the right of the screen)

Hike series with Oregon Wild

Spring tours at the Hoyt Arboretum

Free Metro Parks Day on June 21

Spring nature programming from THPRD

Spring nature programming from the Friends of Tryon Creek

Spring nature programming at Jackson Bottom Wetlands (Hillsboro), including their regular Lunch with the Birds and Sunset Sit, Moonrise Smile outings

Spring nature programming at the Tillamook Forest Center

Spring nature programming at the Leach Botanical Garden

Free Skills Series from Rewild Portland (every month)

Bird watching outings with Audubon Society of Portland

Bird and kid’s nature walks with Backyard Bird Shop

June 3 | National Trails Day | American Hiking Society

June 3 | Oregon State Parks Day | Oregon State Parks

June 3 | Free Family Fun Day on the Farm | Schoolyard Farms and Ecology in Classrooms & Outdoors

June 3 | Curious Kids Nature Guide Reading and Craft | Green Bean Books

June 5 | World Environment Day | #NatureForAll

June 7 | Conversation & Cocktails: Inspiring the Next Generation of Nature Enthusiasts | NWF

June 8 | Grant’s Getaways: Oregon Adventures with the Kids | Hillsboro Public Library

June 11| Animal tracking adventure (Oxbow Regional Park) | Metro

June 14 | Puddle Stompers | Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge

June 20 | Puddle Stompers | Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge

June 24 | ¡Explorando el Columbia Slough! | Columbia Slough Watershed Council

June 24 | Urban Kids Fishing Derby (at Mt. Hood Comm. College) | Urban American Outdoors/

June 24 | Farmington Paddle Launch grand opening and Tualatin River Discovery Day | Metro

June 24 | Gathering at Gateway Green | Friends of Gateway Green

June 24 | Howell Pollinator EcoBlitz | Metro

June 24 | Stayin’ Alive: Survival fires (Oxbow Regional Park) | Metro

June 24 | Bug Out With Don Ehlen! | Paxton Gate PDX

July 12-15 | National Children & Youth Garden Symposium in Vancouver, WA

July 13 | Twilight Thursday (Blue Lake Regional Park) | Metro

July 14 | Families in the field: forest adventure (Scouters Mountain Nature Park) | Metro

July 15 | Herons and eagles of River Island (Barton Park) | Metro

August 4 | Families in the field: winged wildlife discovery (Blue Lake Regional Park) | Metro

August 6 | 23rd Annual Columbia Slough Regatta | Columbia Slough Watershed Council

August 10 | Twilight Thursday (Smith and Bybee Wtlands Natural Area) | Metro

August 12 | Nadaka Park Festival | Friends of Nadaka & Columbia Slough Watershed Council

August 12 | The wild side of the wetland (Blue Lake Regional Park) | Metro

Regular nature outings (check websites for seasonal scheduling):
Story and Strolls and Guided Nature Walks at Tryon Creek State Park
Ladybug Nature Walks with Portland Parks Environmental Education
Puddle Stompers at Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge
Nature Mobile from THPRD’s Natural Resources
Honeybee Hikes at Leach Botanical Garden
Tadpole Tales with Columbia Slough Watershed Council
Farm Fridays at Zenger Farm
Second Saturdays at the Water Resources Education Center in Vancouver, WA
Guided hikes at Columbia Springs in Vancouver, WA (third Wed. of most months)
Tillamook Tales at the Tillamook Forest Center

Did you know?
– $2 admission at OMSI the first Sunday of every month
– $3 admission at the World Forestry Center the first Thursday of every month
– $4 admission at the Oregon Zoo the second Tuesday of every month
– FREE admission at the Portland Art Museum the first Thursday of every month, 5-8pm
– FREE admission at the Portland Children’s Museum the first Friday of every month, 4-8pm
– FREE admission at the Oregon Historical Society & Museum every day for Multnomah County residents

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Monday thought of the week & a new book for parents – Let Them Eat Dirt

A thought:

When children are out walking or playing in a green space… the risk of getting infected with microbes that carry human diseases decreases drastically. Allow your children to touch anything they want (except animal waste), including dirt, mud, trees, plants, insects, etc. Don’t act on the urge to clean them right after they get dirty, either; let them stay dirty for as long as the play session lasts or until it’s time to eat. In fact, our children experience so little time outdoors compared to previous generations that it’s ideal to encourage them to get dirty during the little time they have outside.

– B. Brett Finlay and Marie-Claire Arrieta, in Let Them Eat Dirt: Saving Your Child from an Oversanatized World, p. 135

When you spend so much time getting your kids outside, you’re sure enough going to deal with them getting dirty. My daughter especially loves to dig her little fingers into mud and roll little mud balls that she then presses onto the ends of little sticks, pushing the whole thing into the ground and proclaiming, “I made a mushroom!” She’ll do this repeatedly, and her hands become absolutely covered in dirt. While it’s natural to feel like I should clean her hands up sooner than later, I’ve gotten used to just letting her nature-connected hands be for a while. We can clean up when we get home, or before lunch. Allowing a little bit of earth to remain on her hands benefits her health. It’s a claim often thrown around when discussing nature connection for kids – “If you let kinds get dirty in nature, they’ll grow up healthier as adults.” And increasingly it’s a claim that’s shown to be true. A new book looks at the science behind the claim:

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B. Brett Finlay and Marie-Claire Arrieta, Let Them Eat Dirt: Saving Your Child from an Oversanatized World (Chapel Hill, NC: Algonquin Books, 2016), 304 pp.

Order through Powell’s City of BooksOrder through Amazon.com

Publisher’s description In the two hundred years since we discovered that microbes cause infectious diseases, we’ve battled to keep them at bay. But a recent explosion of scientific knowledge has led to undeniable evidence that early exposure to these organisms is beneficial to a child’s well-being. Our modern lifestyle, with its emphasis on hyper-cleanliness, is taking a toll on children’s lifelong health. In this engaging and important book, microbiologists Brett Finlay and Marie-Claire Arrieta explain how the trillions of microbes that live in and on our bodies influence childhood development; why an imbalance of those microbes can lead to obesity, diabetes, and asthma, among other chronic conditions; and what parents can do–from conception on–to positively affect their own behaviors and those of their children. They describe how natural childbirth, breastfeeding, and solid foods influence children’s microbiota. They also offer practical advice on matters such as whether to sterilize food implements for babies, the use of antibiotics, the safety of vaccines, and why having pets is a good idea. Forward-thinking and revelatory, Let Them Eat Dirt is an essential book in helping us to nurture stronger, more resilient, happy, and healthy kids.

Authors’ website for the book with some resources

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Wednesday photo of the week: our neighborhood trail

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Monday thought of the week: little outdoor people

A thought:

Kids are natural little outdoor people. It is we, the adults, that turn them into indoor people.

– Mark Jenkins, in the Foreword to Jennifer Bove, ed., Wild with Child: Adventures of Families in the Great Outdoors (Palo Alto: Solas House/Travelers’ Tales, 2010), p. x

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Wednesday photo of the week: salamander

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Monday thought of the week: natural playmates

[I’ve been neglecting my Monday thought of the week and Wednesday photo of the week posts recently. I enjoy posting them, and hope my readers enjoying reading and seeing them… so let’s get back to it!]

A thought:

Nature and children are natural playmates – they’re both wild and messy, unpredictable and beautiful.

– Mark Hoelterhoff (quoted in the book Rewilding Our Hearts: Building Pathways of Compassion and Coexistence by Marc Bekoff)

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Upcoming nature events in Portland

— Please check for any schedule changes or registration requirements —

List of Summer Camp 2017 opportunities

Upcoming OMSI Science Pubs about ice age floods and volcanoes

Upcoming Intertwine Regional Eco-Blitz events

Nature classes at Portland area parks from Tinkergarten

Discovery Hikes with the Forest Park Conservancy

Guided hikes at Camassia Natural Area with the Nature Conservancy of Oregon: May 14

Family-friendly hikes with Friends of the Columbia River Gorge (click on the family-friendly filter to the right of the screen)

Hike series with Oregon Wild

Spring tours at the Hoyt Arboretum

Free Metro Parks Day on June 21

Spring nature programming from THPRD

Spring nature programming from the Friends of Tryon Creek

Spring nature programming at Jackson Bottom Wetlands (Hillsboro), including their regular Lunch with the Birds and Sunset Sit, Moonrise Smile outings

Spring nature programming at the Tillamook Forest Center (watch for announcements

Spring nature programming at the Leach Botanical Garden

Free Skills Series from Rewild Portland (every month)

Bird watching outings with Audubon Society of Portland

Bird and kid’s nature walks with Backyard Bird Shop

May 6 | Kids Fishing Festival | Columbia Springs (Vancouver)

May 9| Nature Night: The Singing Brain, The Fascinating Science of Birdsong | Audubon Society of Portland

May 10 | Puddle Stompers | Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge

May 11 | Evening Canoe the Slough| Columbia Slough Watershed Council

May 11 | Wild Gresham: A Community Talk on Wildlife | Johnson Creek Watershed Council

May 14 | Nature Days in the Park: Pioneer Park | THPRD

May 16 | Cormorants on East Sand Island: Update and Next Steps | Audubon Society of Portland

May 18 | Outdoor Classroom Day | Everywhere <– ATTENTION TEACHERS!!

May 20 | Tualatin River Bird Festival | Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge

May 20 | Children’s Nature Fair | Leach Botanical Garden

May 20 | Fantastic mosses and where to find them (Scouters Mountain Nature Park) | Metro

May 20 | Kids to Parks Day | National Park Trust <– check out my post (with giveways!)

May 21 | Turtle walk in the wetlands (Smith and Bybee) | Metro

May 21 | Ross Island Regatta: Celebrate Great Blue Heron Week! | Audubon Society of Portland

May 27 | Classroom Discovery Days: Pollination: insects, birds, and bees | Friends of Tryon Creek

June 3 | National Trails Day | American Hiking Society

June 8 | Grant’s Getaways: Oregon Adventures with the Kids | Hillsboro Public Library

June 11| Animal tracking adventure (Oxbow Regional Park) | Metro

June 14 | Puddle Stompers | Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge

June 20 | Puddle Stompers | Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge

June 24 | ¡Explorando el Columbia Slough! | Columbia Slough Watershed Council

June 24 | Farmington Paddle Launch grand opening and Tualatin River Discovery Day | Metro

June 24 | Howell Pollinator EcoBlitz | Metro

June 24 | Stayin’ Alive: Survival fires (Oxbow Regional Park) | Metro

July 12-15 | National Children & Youth Garden Symposium in Vancouver, WA

July 13 | Twilight Thursday (Blue Lake Regional Park) | Metro

July 14 | Families in the field: forest adventure (Scouters Mountain Nature Park) | Metro

July 15 | Herons and eagles of River Island (Barton Park) | Metro

August 4 | Families in the field: winged wildlife discovery (Blue Lake Regional Park) | Metro

August 6 | 23rd Annual Columbia Slough Regatta | Columbia Slough Watershed Council

August 10 | Twilight Thursday (Smith and Bybee Wtlands Natural Area) | Metro

August 12 | Nadaka Park Festival | Friends of Nadaka & Columbia Slough Watershed Council

August 12 | The wild side of the wetland (Blue Lake Regional Park) | Metro

Regular nature outings (check websites for seasonal scheduling):
Story and Strolls and Guided Nature Walks at Tryon Creek State Park
Ladybug Nature Walks with Portland Parks Environmental Education
Puddle Stompers at Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge
Nature Days in the Park and Nature Mobile from THPRD’s Natural Resources
Honeybee Hikes at Leach Botanical Garden
Tadpole Tales with Columbia Slough Watershed Council
Farm Fridays at Zenger Farm
Second Saturdays at the Water Resources Education Center in Vancouver, WA
Guided hikes at Columbia Springs in Vancouver, WA (third Wed. of most months)
Tillamook Tales at the Tillamook Forest Center

Did you know?
– $2 admission at OMSI the first Sunday of every month
– $3 admission at the World Forestry Center the first Thursday of every month
– $4 admission at the Oregon Zoo the second Tuesday of every month
– FREE admission at the Portland Art Museum the first Thursday of every month, 5-8pm
– FREE admission at the Portland Children’s Museum the first Friday of every month, 4-8pm
– FREE admission at the Oregon Historical Society & Museum every day for Multnomah County residents

*My friend Laura posts a monthly listing of kid and family-friendly events of natural, scientific, and cultural interest. May’s list is here, and unfortunately this will be the last one she puts together.

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Nature-based camps for Summer 2017

Registration for summer camps is happening right now! Here are places in the Portland area with nature-based programs. Be sure to contact each place to find out about availability and prices, and please comment below if I have missed any…

Adventure WILD Summer Day Camp (supports Outdoor School)
Audubon Society of Portland
Columbia Springs
Franciscan Montessori Earth School
The Green Schoolhouse
Growing Gardens Garden Camp
Jackson Bottom Wetlands Preserve
Leach Botanical Garden
Mount St. Helens Institute: Volcano Camp
Namanu Day Camp In The City
North Clackamas Parks & Recreation District (Outdoor Explorers)
Opal Creek Ancient Forest Center
Oregon Museum of Science and Industry
Oregon Zoo
Portland Children’s Museum (Wild Artists)
Portland Parks & Recreation
Rain or Shine Camps
Rewild Portland
Sauvie Island Center
Trackers Earth PDX
Tryon Creek State Park
Tualatin Hills Nature Center & Cooper Mountain Nature Park (pp. 47-52)
Friends of the Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge
Tualatin Riverkeepers
Zenger Farm

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Kids to Parks Day is May 20 – thoughts on a national park visit and a giveaway!

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May 20 is the National Park Trust’s annual Kids to Parks Day. Click here to pledge to spend time in nature with your family (and have a chance at winning some great prizes). Read on, and there will be an opportunity to win a pair of Northside outdoor shoes through this blog!

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Last Christmas, we drove from Portland, OR to Houston, TX to spend the holiday with family. With two kids, one 4 years old, you can only drive so many hours in a day before you need to get off the highway and rest for the night. So, it took us 3 days to drive there and 3 days back. Thus, it’s important to stop here and there and stretch your legs and let the kids get their wiggles out. On our return trip, once such pit stop was at a new-to-us place – Arches National Park in southeast Utah.

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We arrived about a half-hour before the visitor center was to close at 5pm. We rushed in so my 10-year-old son could get the Junior Ranger booklet – and while he got one, the ranger said he would rather see us get out into the park and enjoy the scenery in the hour before the sun set. He enlisted me to take charge of a Junior Ranger badge to pass on to my son after he completed the booklet later. Now, we needed to get into the park to witness some of the spectacular geology – formed mostly by physical and chemical erosion over millions of years – I had only seen before in books and online.

We drove into the park on the main highway and pulled over intermittently to take in the views and snap some photos. We ended up getting on foot and taking a trail to the Lower Delicate Arch Viewpoint, gazing across at the park’s flagship arch from behind its more-well-known side. We hiked back, got back in the car, and drove back the way we came. Then back north toward the Salt Lake City area where had our hotel for the night.

Two hours is all we spent at Arches National Park, but taking that time to spend a little family time in nature at one of our country’s beautiful public lands, not only did good for the long day on the road, but did good for our long road as a family. We will definitely plan to visit Arches and Moab area for a longer time for a future vacation.

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NPT’s mascot Buddy Bison atop the Balanced Rock at Arches Nat. Park

Including time for parks, natural areas, and trails is crucial when we travel. It helps us connect as a family, provides time for fresh air and physical exercise for living healthier, and instills in our minds and hearts the importance of protecting and spending time in these natural spaces set aside for everybody. And getting outside and exploring in nature should not be a difficult, or expensive, thing to do. All it really takes is having good shoes, the appropriate clothing for where you live or time of year, and the motivation!

Here’s one way to get motivated:

May 20, 2017 marks the 7th year that the National Park Trust has put on Kids to Parks Day. While getting outside with your family should be a regular part of your routine, this day is one you can set aside to devote to visiting a new place in your region. There will be  “Kids to Parks Day” events held all over the country (Oregon-specific list here), and the NPT has put together some activity ideas for how to spend your time in nature. And remember, current 4th graders can get a free national parks pass that will be good through the end of summer, for the whole family…

If you pledge to participate for Kids to Parks Day, you will receive quality time in nature with your family, and have a chance to win some prizes. So pledge here!*

If you’re in the Portland area, you can find a park to visit using this map tool from The Intertwine (or download and try out their new app Daycation). There are also a few non-Kids to Parks Day events that are occurring on the same day at some local parks and natural areas: the annual family-friendly Tualatin River Bird Festival at the Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge in Sherwood; a Metro program on mosses at Scouters Mountain (geared toward adults but all ages are welcome); a guided hike about forest biodiversity at Tryon Creek State Natural Area; and a seed-themed Children’s Nature Fair at Leach Botanical Garden.

If you like to share images on social media, use the hashtag #kidstoparks (or #buddybison if he’s in your photo). NPT is on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram. And now for this blog’s giveaway!

The giveaway:

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To enter for a chance to win a pair of outdoor shoes from Northside (like those pictured above), please comment on this post telling me about a time that a park visit during travel did great things for your family. From the entries I will randomly pick a winner. The contest will be open until Friday, May 19, midnight PST. If you would like to enter without commenting on the blog, you can send me an email with your story at darwinsbulldog AT gmail DOT com. Good luck!

* Did you pledge to participate for Kids to Parks Day on May 20?**

** Did you really? Okay, I’m done. Get outside and have fun!

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BOOK REVIEW: Natural History of the Pacific Northwest Mountains & a local event with the author

While perusing old nature books on the reference shelves at nature centers around Portland, I tend to see the 1988 guide Cascade-Olympic Natural History by Daniel Mathews. It’s out-of-print, and Multnomah County Library has just a single copy in its entire collection, and patrons can only use it in the library. It’s no surprise then that the author’s efforts to educate folks in the Pacific Northwest about their mountainous natural environments deserve a new life some three decades later. The regional publisher Timber Press – which has previously published a series of guidebooks on PNW wildlife, insects, wildflowers, trees & shrubs, and mushrooms (as well as a new guide on birds) – has just released a new version of Mathews’ guide as Natural History of the Pacific Northwest Mountains.

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Daniel Mathews, Natural History of the Pacific Northwest Mountains (Portland, OR: Timber Press, 2017), 600 pp. 800 color photos, 215 illustrations, 4 maps.

Order through Powell’s City of Books • Order through Amazon.com •

As the cover of Natural History of the Pacific Northwest Mountains indicates, this book covers the following topics: climate, plants, fungi, animals, and geology. Also included are a section on the various landscapes of the PNW and a useful glossary in the back. And each section of the field guide portion provides great general overviews and boxed text throughout covering other topics in more detail, including short biographies of relevant naturalists (as a history buff, I enjoy this!). A guide such as this is welcome, especially for trips, since one wouldn’t necessarily want to lug around all their various more-specific field guides. This guide would be perfect companion for a camping trip to Olympic National Park or hiking around Mt. Hood, or exploring at Mt. Rainier National Park or in the mountains of southwestern British Columbia.

Time will tell for the usefulness of this guide, as I use it to identify something I see when visiting my region’s mountainous landscapes (there’s always that one animal or flower you see that happens to not be included in a guide, right?). But from a leisurely stroll through its pages, Natural History of the Pacific Northwest Mountains is a beautifully-produced guide that can either find a home on one’s bookshelf or in a backpack. I look forward to having it as a resource for our nature explorations!

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For those in the Portland area, you can hear from the author of Natural History of the Pacific Northwest Mountains at a OHS History Pub event at the McMenimans Kennedy School on April 24, 7-9pm.

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