The Naturalist Training Program is a series of 8 classes, running spring through fall, designed to give you a wide variety of skills to make you feel at home in the natural world.
Explore local natural areas
Expand your awareness of the natural world
Learn to interpret what you see
Develop technical skills
Develop your sense of place
This series is designed to develop your skills in wildlife tracking, botany, ecology, navigation and map reading, wilderness survival skills, and reading the landscape. We want to get you outside, looking at the landscape, learning how to interpret what you see, and - most importantly - developing a sense of belonging in nature.
Tracking and Wildlife
Track Identification: Identify clear and subtle tracks, from large mammals to small rodents and birds.
Gaits, Track Patterns, and Interpretation: Identify different gaits and trail patterns and learn what they can tell you about an animal's activity.
Sign Tracking: Identify the myriad of evidence that animals leave behind besides their tracks.
Mammal behavior and ecology: Learn what mammals are found in the area, their taxonomy, general habitat, diet, and lifestyle.
Amphibians and reptiles: Learn the common amphibians and reptiles of this region.
Plant identification: Learn to identify the trees and important plants of the area and learn the nomenclature and taxonomy that will help you identify new species in the future.
Wild plant foraging: Learn common edible plants and how to forage both safely and ethically.
Indicator species: Learn what plants can tell you about the environment.
Ecology – the big picture
Habitat: Understand the concept of a habitat and be able to recognize the common habitats types in the Cascades and greater Portland area.
Elevation gradients: Recognize the different forest zones in the Cascades and understand how elevation, rainfall, and temperature affect what trees, shrubs, and wildlife live there.
Forest ecology: Understand the concepts of forest succession and shade tolerance, see common insects and diseases and how they affect the forest, see the role of fire, and learn to interpret the history of a stand.
Tools to be out in nature
Navigation: Learn to use a map and compass, and how to navigate off-trail using terrain features to guide your way.
Wilderness safety: Learn what your priorities are in a survival situation, how to build a fire, and the common hazards of being in the forest.
While each class emphasizes a different topic, it is the animals and the plants themselves that determine exactly what we see, so anything could potentially be covered on any day. Each day includes 6 hours of field time, with start and end times set to accommodate travel times to and from the sites. Classes build on each other, covering more advanced topics as the season progresses.
March 14: Track identification, mammals, and early spring plants. Location: Oxbow Park.
April 11: Plant identification and foraging, wildlife tracking. Location: Fernhill Wetlands
May 9: Sign tracking and animal behavior. Location: Near Carson, WA.
June 13: Navigation and awareness. Location: Mt Hood National Forest near Indian Henry Campground
July 11: Alpine plants and wildlife; forest zones. Mt Hood National Forest, exact location weather dependent.
September 19: Forest ecology. Location: Mt Hood National Forest, Cast Creek Trail.
October 17: Tracking and wilderness survival. Location: Sauvie Island.
November 21: Snow tracking, interpreting gaits and trail patterns, winter plant identification. Location: Mt Hood National Forest, exact location weather dependent.
Cost is $500 for the series.
A discount is given for current Wolverine Tracking Project volunteers; cost for volunteers is $420 for the series.
You may register for classes individually as well; be aware, however, that classes build on each other and sign up only for those you have the necessary background for. Cost of an individual class is $75, or $65 for Wolverine Tracking Project volunteers.
Contact us if you have any questions. We hope to see you!