EXPLORING SW WASHINGTON’S NATURAL AREAS: Natural & Human History - Driving Course


[semester equivalent = 3.33 credits]



Peter Chausse



In this diversified driving tour experience, you’ll make your way to at least 30 natural sites in SW Washington (from Mt. Rainier and Mt. St. Helens to the Washington Coast, Vancouver, and the Columbia Gorge), where you’ll discover the natural history of this area. You will learn about the region’s past, present, and future potential. You will also learn much about the natural fauna and flora of the region as you explore city parks, forested trails, volcanic areas, and alpine regions. Along the way, you’ll develop dozens of ideas for bringing the study of SW Washington’s Natural Areas to your students. 

This course is appropriate for teachers K-12. 
The instructor will provide the course manual 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 natural geologic history of the Washington Cascades,
        as you explore areas adjacent to Mt. St. Helens and Mt. Rainier

2.     Learned about the flora and fauna that are native to the region, as you explore
        natural sites, forested trails, volcanic areas, and alpine regions.

3.     Learned about the National Park and National Monument System and
        the recreational opportunities provided here.

4.     Learned about Washington’s State Park system and the educational
        opportunities available in state parks.

5.     Developed ways to implement this information with students, through
        classroom, distance and field trip lesson planning.

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.



Instructional manual from the Instructor.  One additional text required selected from the annotated bibliography. Cost depends on book selection.

None. All reading is online.


The materials packet can now be acquired from the instructor via email at no cost. After registration, please contact Peter Chausse at to obtain the materials.



Assignment #1:

Read the articles in the workbook. These articles, which focus on background information for each site, will provide insight into the natural history of each area. Respond to focus questions about the articles by writing short paragraph answers.

Send to instructor: Subject line to read “Exploring SW Washington’s Natural Areas #1”.

Assignment #2:

Search for pertinent materials available to you in your school library, Education Service District, and/or local library. Compile an annotated bibliography (a minimum of five) to submit to the instructor.

Send to the instructor: Subject line to read “Exploring SW Washington’s Natural Areas #2”.

Assignment #3:

Complete a web search of available web sites concerning any of the sites or topics involved in this course study that may be appropriate for your personal studies and/or future student use and submit an annotated list to the instructor. (Minimum of 3 sites)

Send to the instructor: Subject line to read “Exploring SW Washington’s Natural Areas #3”.

Assignment #4:

As you travel to 30 of the sites in the Driving Tour:

Record what you find at each site in the “Field Journal.” The Field Journal will ask you to compare what you read about each site in the workbook, as mentioned earlier, to what you find by writing a paragraph or two about each site. The field journal also asks for pictures, pamphlets, maps, and notes about other pertinent information to confirm actual site visits.

Send to the instructor: Subject line to read “Exploring SW Washington’s Natural Areas #4”.

Assignment #5:

Give your impression of each site as to its educational potential and make teaching suggestions. Discuss how the site could be used to expand your teaching regarding any curriculum area. (Minimum 4-5 page paper)

Send to the instructor: Subject line to read “Exploring SW Washington’s Natural Areas #5”.

Assignment #6:

After you have completed all your site visits, discuss the most valuable sites to you, (a minimum of 5 sites) and put together ideas that might work best for your students. (Minimum 2 pages)

Send to the instructor: Subject line to read “Exploring SW Washington’s Natural Areas #6”.

Assignment #7:

Read one of the books listed in the bibliography. Then, write a 2-3 page report summarizing the highlights of the material, and how it applies to your teaching assignment.

Send to the instructor: Subject line to read “Exploring SW Washington’s Natural Areas #7”.



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 #8:

Utilizing the format provided in the workbook, your completed Field Journal, and any other information gathered on your site visits, create a series of at least five classroom or field-based lessons. The lessons may include student work and focus on museums, visitor centers, geology, native flora or fauna, recreational opportunities, 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. 

Send to the instructor: Subject line to read “Exploring SW Washington’s Natural Areas #8”.

Assignment #9:

Implement the unit of lessons with students. Write a summary of the lessons, as described in the workbook.  

If you do NOT have access to a classroom, there are several options provided in the workbook.

Send to the instructor: Subject line to read “Exploring SW Washington’s Natural Areas #9”.

Assignment #10: (500 Level ONLY)

Assignment #10 (500 Level only)

In addition to the 400 level assignments, complete the following:

A.   Write 5+ pages comparing and contrasting the sites you visited in this course with similar sites in your community. Discuss your findings and how you can implement those finding with comparable sites close to your school.

Send to the instructor: Subject line to read "Exploring SW Washington's Natural Areas #10-A".
Prepare a photo-journal/display of the sites visited in this course for use within your teaching setting.

Discuss how you will use the project with a statement of:

·       How the display will integrate with current curricula

·       Timetable for when it will be used.

·       Description of student learning outcomes and

·       How you will assess the effectiveness of the project

Size of photo-journal/display to be discussed with and pre-approved by the instructor.

Send to the instructor: Subject line to read "Exploring SW Washington's Natural Areas #10-B".
    Create another assignment of your design with the instructor's prior approval.

Send to the instructor: Subject line to read "Exploring SW Washington's Natural Areas #10-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. 


EXPLORING SW WASHINGTON’S NATURAL AREAS: Natural & Human History - Driving Course

Barcott, Bruce. The Measure of a Mountain: Beauty and Terror on Mt. Rainier. 1997.  Sasquatch Books, Seattle, WA.
This books focuses on the natural and human history of Mt. Rainier.

Barstad, Fred. A Falcon Guide to Mt. St. Helens 2004. Globe Pequot Press.
This book provides information about the geologic and cultural history of Mt. St. Helens and provides descriptions of the natural and cultural resources to be discovered on 23 hiking trails.

Hickson, Catherine. Mt. St. Helens: Surviving the Stone Wind. 2005.Tricouni Press.
This book features an amazing eyewitness account of the Mt. St Helens eruption on May 18, 1980.

Holmes, Melanie. A Hero on Mount St, Helens: The Life & Legacy of David A. Johnston. 2019. University of Illinois Press. 
This book focuses on the geologic work done by David Johnston. Although he perished in the 1980 eruption, his warnings about the devastating nature of the mountain saved perhaps thousands of lives.

Johnston, G.S. Washington’s Pacific Coast: A Guide to Camping, Fishing & Other Adventures. 2015. Mountaineer Books. Seattle, WA.
This book provides information regarding the educational and recreational opportunities that can be found along the Washington Coast.

Judd, Ron C. Day Hike! Mt. Rainier:The Best Trails You Can Hike in a Day.2002. Sasquatch books, Seattle, WA.
This book provided information about dozens of hikes where participants can learn about the unique geology on the area, and ways to discover native trees, plants and wildlife.

Mueller, Ted & Marge Mueller. Washington State Parks 2004. Mountaineer Books. Seattle, WA.
This book provides information about the natural history of more than 200 state parks.

Nelson, Dan A. Day Hiking, Snoqualmie Region.  2007,  Mountaineering Books, Seattle, WA.
This comprehension books provides geologic information for 135 hikes in the region including Snoqualmie Pass, North Bend, the Issaquah Alps, Teanway, Ellensburg Basin, and Enumclaw Plateau.

Place, Marian T. Mount St. Helens:A Sleeping Volcano Awakes. 1981. Dodd Mead Publishing. Eyewitness accounts of the 1980 Mt. St. Helens eruption.

Pojar, Jim & Andrew MacKinnon. Plants of the Pacific Northwest Coast. 2016. Lone Pine Publishing.
This wonderfully illustrated book features color photos of plants and trees of the Northwest and provides extensive information about the medicinal and practiccal values of Northwest trees and plants.

Romano, Craig. Day Hiking: Mt. St. Helens. 2015. Mountaineer Books, Seattle, WA.
This book features information about 80 day hiking routes, as well as details about visitor centers, and the four major National Monument access routes.

Romano, Craig. Urban Trails: Vancouver 2020. Mountaineer Books, Seattle, WA
This book covers all of Clark County, from the Columbia Gorge to the Trails of the Longview-Kelso and Kalama Areas in Cowlitz County.

Spring, Ira. 50 hikes in Mt. Rainer National Park. 2019. Mountaineer Books, Seattle, WA,
This full color book commemorates Mt. Rainer National Park’s 100th anniversary, and provides information on trails that help participants experiences the natural history of Mt. Rainier National Park.

Wagner, Eric. After the Blast: The Ecological recovery of Mt. St. Helens.2020. University of Washington Press. Seattle, WA.
This book focuses on the 1980 volcanic eruption of Mt. St. Helens, and the ecological recovery of the area, through both natural and human reforestation. It also focuses on the return of wildlife, fish and the ecological system that surrounds the mountain.

This website provides historical and environmental information about Mt. Rainier National Park
This website highlights the most significant features of Mt. Rainier National Park!ut/p/z0/04_Sj9CPykssy0xPLMnMz0vMAfIjo8zijQwgwNHCwN_DI8zPwBcqYKBfkO2oCADIwpjI/?pname=Mt+St.+Helens+National+Volcanic+Monument+-+Home&ss=110623&pnavid=null&navid=091000000000000&ttype=main&cid=null
This website provides in depth information regarding Mt. St. Helens, and opportunities available for accessing mountain areas and its resources.
This website provides geological and historical information about Mt. St. Helens, and current resources in exploring the mountain. 
This website provides information regarding more than 200 state parks in WA and OR.  
This is a great website for locating parks in the Vancouver area where teachers and students can discover the natural world in an urban setting. 
Great resource for finding natural areas in the Longview area.
Excellent website describing areas of natural significance along the Lewis River. 
Provides excellent photos and descriptions of birds commonly seen in the Northwest. 
This website provides excellent tree identification information and features color photos of common Northwest trees. 
Excellent guide to identifying common Northwest trees and plants.   
Provides an in-depth explanation of the forces that created the geology we see today in the Pacific Northwest.