Oregon Coast Education Program

Ideas for field experiences near and far • Back to Field Trip Resources


Your school
Start learning about the watershed right outside your classroom door! Take a watershed walk on school property or a nearby park. Chances are you can find evidence of water collecting and moving along the local watershed. Return often to sites on school property like wetlands, forested areas or streams to continue studying your local watershed.


Hiking & walking trails
Trails in your local area can provide students exercise and an informal “guide” along a stream, through a coastal forest or through a wetland area. While walking use items around you as teaching moments and have students engage in surveys of local species, water quality sampling, participate in silent hikes or sits and create sounds maps to enhance their outdoor experience. Follow up the trip with classroom activities or inquiry projects.

estuaryExplore your estuary
Chances are your watershed leads to an Oregon estuary! There are many ways to explore this diverse and unique ecosystem! Have students identify where your watershed leads and if possible take a visit to that estuary or one nearby. This diverse ecosystem offers a wide variety of field experience oportunities:

  • Trails and natural areas through upland forests, riparian zones and along the shoreline can lead you though the estuary.
  • Diverse freshwater and salt marshes provide a unique set of plants and animals ripe for studying.
  • Get your hands dirty in the tide flats! Search for the fauna living below the sediment, collect data & explore.
  • Boat basins are a great place to see what lives subtidally on the pilings and docks without the need for SCUBA gear. Bring along a binoculars, plankton tow nets as well as other water quality equiptment to make comparisons to fresh water ecosystems.

shorelineSurvey the shoreline
From the banks of your local stream out to Oregon’s open coast, there is much to be seen and explored along these sandy and rocky habitats. Everything from water quality testing, riparian studies and wrack line surveys can provide a rich learning environment. Comparison studies can help students to learn more about the nature of their local watershed and its connection to the open coast.

sand dunesSandy shores & dunes
Oregon is lucky to have many miles of natural dune systems. Learn about the ecology of this area as well as the animals and plants that call it home and wash ashore. Just like the tideflats in an estuary, you will be suprised at what you can find living under the sand!

rocky shoreRocky shores
From the rocky substrate at your feet to the birds nesting offshore, there are a wide variety of activities to meet your needs. Intertidal areas offer a high diversity of marine life ripe for study and often provide a good habitat for inquiry projects to continue back in the classroom!