[semester equivalent = 3.33 credits]



Peter Chausse



In this diversified driving tour, you will travel to Portland and surrounding suburban areas to discover a variety of forested parks, gorgeous gardens, wetlands sites, and geologic sites, where you will learn about trees, plants, birds, ecosystems, and natural formations. Most importantly, you will learn how to bring this information to your students across the curriculum, both in the classroom and on field trips.

$25 payable to instructor for a course field guide after registration.   

The Co-Instructor for this course is Jake Gordon, M.S. Ed.

LEARNING OUTCOMES: Upon completion of this course, participants will have:

  1. Learned about the history of Portland’s park system, and the history of individual parks, and their importance, both now, and in the future.
  2. Learned to identify a variety of native trees and plants, and to teach lessons involving tree and plant study.
  3. Learned to identify a variety of birds, and to teach units involving bird study to students.
  4. Learned about Portland’s water systems, including the Willamette, Columbia, Clackamas and Sandy Rivers.
  5. Learned about the geologic history of Portland, through study of natural formations.
  6. Obtained knowledge on the scope of recreational activities available in the Portland Metro area.
  7. Gained tools to teach the value of natural areas, and to teach observation skills through hands-on learning experiences.

Completion of all specified assignments is required for issuance of hours or credit.  The Heritage Institute does not award partial credit. 


Completing the basic assignments (Section A. Information Acquisition) for this course automatically earns participant’s their choice of CEUs (Continuing Education Units), Washington State Clock Hours, Oregon PDUs, or Pennsylvania ACT 48 Hours. The Heritage Institute offers CEUs and is an approved provider of Washington State Clock Hours, Oregon PDUs, and Pennsylvania ACT 48 Hours.



Continuing Education Quarter credits are awarded by Antioch University Seattle (AUS). AUS requires 75% or better for credit at the 400 level and 85% or better to issue credit at the 500 level. These criteria refer both to the amount and quality of work submitted.

  1. Completion of Information Acquisition assignments 30%
  2. Completion of Learning Application assignments 40%
  3. Completion of Integration Paper assignment 30%


CREDIT/NO CREDIT (No Letter Grades or Numeric Equivalents on Transcripts)
Antioch University Seattle (AUS) Continuing Education Quarter credit is offered on a Credit/No Credit basis; neither letter grades nor numeric equivalents are on a transcript. 400 level credit is equal to a "C" or better, 500 level credit is equal to a "B" or better. This information is on the back of the transcript.

AUS Continuing Education quarter credits may or may not be accepted into degree programs. Prior to registering determine with your district personnel, department head, or state education office the acceptability of these credits for your purpose.



A comprehensive Course Workbook that includes the required reading, field journal, and Driving Tour instructions. The Workbook is available from the instructor after registration.

None. All reading is online.


$25 for a Course Workbook and field guide, payable to instructor after registration. 



Assignment #1: BEFORE YOU TRAVEL

  • Read the articles in the workbook.
  • These articles, which focus on the history of each park and its natural resources, provide a general overview of Portland’s natural areas.
  • Respond to focus questions about the articles by writing short paragraph answers.

Send to instructor: Subject line to read ‘Natural Areas #1’.

Assignment #2: BEFORE YOU TRAVEL

  • Search for pertinent materials available to you in your school library, Education Service District and/or local library. Compile an annotated bibliography.  
  • The annotation should include Title, Author, Publisher, length of the book or article, year of publication and your review of information contained. 
  • Add your opinion of the value or your criticism of the contents of each book or article, and rate the importance of the material in contrast to the subject of your course.

Send to instructor: Subject line to read ‘Natural Areas #2’.

Assignment #3: BEFORE YOU TRAVEL

  • Complete an Internet search of available web sites concerning any of the sites or topics involved in this study that may be appropriate for your personal studies and/or for future student use.
  • Submit an annotated list to the instructor.

Send to instructor: Subject line to read ‘Natural Areas #3’.

Assignment #4: AS YOU TRAVEL

  • Record what you actually find at each site in the “Field Journal”.
  • The Field Journal will ask you to compare what you read about each site in the above mentioned workbook to what you actually find.
  • Writing 1-2 paragraphs about each site.
  • Also, provide pictures, pamphlets, maps and notes about other pertinent information to confirm actual site visits.

Send to instructor: Subject line to read ‘Natural Areas #4’.

Assignment #5: AS YOU TRAVEL

  • Give your impression of each site and make teaching suggestions.
  • Discuss how the site could be used to expand your teaching regarding any curriculum area.

Send to instructor: Subject line to read ‘Natural Areas #5’.

Assignment #6: AFTER YOU TRAVEL

  • Decide which sites were most valuable to you.
  • Put together ideas from what you learned that might work best for your students. 
  • Write a review of your findings in the workbook.

Send to instructor: Subject line to read ‘Natural Areas #6’.



In this section you will apply your learning to your professional situation.  This course assumes that most participants are classroom teachers who have access to students.  If you are not teaching in a classroom, please contact the instructor for course modifications.  If you are a classroom teacher and start or need to complete this course during the summer, please try to apply your ideas when possible with youth from your neighborhood, at a local public library or parks department facility,  (they will often be glad to sponsor community-based learning), or with students in another teacher’s summer classroom in session.

Assignment #7: Create and teach lessons


In creating new lessons or adapting existing ones, raw from your completed Field Journal and any other information gathered on your site visits. The lessons may include student work and can focus on local history, geology, native plants and trees, gardens, water systems, habitats, writing, art, local neighborhood study of these concepts, or any other portion of the curriculum that would be appropriate.  State the topic, age level, learner outcomes, procedure, disciplines to be integrated and assessment techniques to be used. 

Assignment #7-A:

  • Create two lessons or adapt existing ones to reflect what you’ve learned in this course.
  • Implement your lesson with students in your classroom.
  • Write a 250-500 word commentary on what worked well and what could be improved.
  • Include any student feedback on your lesson.
  • Share what you’ve learned with other teachers taking our courses by also contributing your Lesson to The Heritage Institute Lesson Library here.
  • Send your modified lesson and your commentary via email to your instructor.
  • Send to instructor: Subject line to read ‘Natural Areas #7A'


Assignment #7-B:

Use this option if you do not have a classroom available.

  • Create two lessons or adapt existing ones to reflect what you’ve learned in this course. (Do not implement it.)
  • Share what you’ve learned with other teachers taking our courses by contributing your Lesson to The Heritage Institute Lesson Library here.
  • Write a 500+ word article concerning any noteworthy success you’ve had as a teacher with one or more students.
  • Please refer to the guidelines on our blog What Works: Teaching at its Best prior to writing your article.
  • When you submit your article to your instructor, please also email a copy to Renee Leon THI blog curator and media specialist.
  • Indicate whether or not you are OK with having your article considered for publishing on our website.  
  • Submit your modified lesson along with your article via email to your instructor.  
  • Send to instructor: Subject line to read ‘Natural Areas #7B’.


Assignment #8: Field trip

  • Research, plan and conduct a field trip to one or more sites.
  • Write a 3-5 page summary of the trip.
  • Discuss the learning objectives and outcomes and outline the preparatory and follow-up trip activities.

Send to instructor: Subject line to read ‘Natural Areas #9’.

Assignment #9: Colleague feedback

  • Evaluate your lessons and field trip by gaining the feedback of a colleague.
  • Make plans for future lessons with modifications.  
  • Submit a 1-2 page paper explaining the critique and the modifications you are planning. 

Send to instructor: Subject line to read ‘Natural Areas #10’.

Assignment #10: (500 Level ONLY)

Write 1-2 pages comparing and contrasting the sites you visited in this course with your community. Discuss how these ideas can be implemented close to your school.

Send to instructor: Subject line to read ‘Natural Areas #10-A’.


Option B)

Prepare a photo-journal/display of the sites visited in this course for use within your teaching setting.

Discuss size of photo-journal/display with the instructor for pre-approval before beginning.

Discuss how you will use the project in a statement that contains:

  • how the display will integrate with current curricula
  • timetable for when it will be used
  • description of student learning outcomes
  • how you will assess the effectiveness of the project

Send to instructor: Subject line to read ‘Natural Areas #10-B’.


Option C)

Another assignment of your own design with prior approval of the instructor.

Send to instructor: Subject line to read ‘Natural Areas #11-C’.


Assignment #11: (Required for 400 and 500 level)

(Please do not write this paper until you've completed all of your other assignments.)

  1. What did you learn vs. what you expected to learn from this course?
  2. What aspects of the course were most helpful and why?
  3. What further knowledge and skills in this general area do you feel you need?
  4. How, when, and where will you use what you have learned?
  5. How and with what other school or community members might you share what you learned?

Send to your instructor at their email address. Subject line to read  "(put course name here) Integration Paper"


Instructors will comment on each assignment. If you do not hear from the instructor within a few days of posting your assignment, please get in touch with them immediately.


Peter Chausse, B.S. is a former elementary school teacher, who has specialized in teaching his students about trees, plants, urban parks and natural areas.

Before beginning his teaching career, Peter earned a degree in Forestry from the University of Maine. His training included coursework in Dendrology (tree identification), Forest Management and wood product usage.

In the early 1980's, Peter worked for the U.S. Forest Service in the state of Washington, where he focused on tree identification and scientific observations. Since 1994, Peter has taught a course through The Heritage Institute titled, ‘Studying Portland’s Trees’ During the course, participants learn how to recognize several dozen tree species as they explore Portland’s parks and historic neighborhoods on foot. Ideas for the integration of tree study with math, art, science, literature, writing and social studies activities are presented and discussed.

Peter has had a lifelong love of trees, and is eager to help you acquire more tree knowledge. He is also dedicated to helping you bring this information to your students in fun and meaningful ways.  


Jake Gordon, M.S. Ed., graduated from Western Oregon University.  He became a teacher due to his desire to share the world with his students and give them the skills needed to explore and understand the world around them. 

In 2017 Jake took an academic sabbatical to pursue his graduate studies. He moved to Germany and completed a year of graduate studies at the world-renowned American Studies Leipzig Institute at the University Leipzig. With an expanded worldview and knowledge base, Jake returned to Oregon, where he earned an M.S. in Social Studies Education from Western Oregon University in June 2019.

He currently teaches social studies and geography at Adam Stephens Middle School in Salem, Oregon. In addition to teaching, Jake is an elected member of the Center for Geography Education in Oregon. 



Bishop, Ellen Morris, Hiking Oregon’s Geology 2004.The Mountaineers Books. Seattle, WA.

Foster, Laura O., Portland Hill Walks. 2005. Timber Press. Portland, OR.

Foster, Laura O. & Metro., Walk There! 50 Treks in and around Portland & Vancouver, WA. 2008. Published by Metro. Portland, OR.

Houck, Michael C. & M.J. Cody., Wild in the City. 2002. Oregon Historical Society Press.

Pojar, Jim & Andy Mackinnon. Plants of the Pacific Northwest Coast. 1994. Lone Pine Publishing. Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

Redleaf, Rhoda. Open the Door: Let’s Explore More. 1996 Redleaf Press. St. Paul. Minnesota.

Reynolds. Phyllis C. & Elizabeth Dimon. Trees of Greater Portland. 1993. Timber Press, Portland, OR.

Tekiela, Birds of Oregon. 2001. Adventure Publications. Cambridge, Minnesota.