Environmental & Cultural Education on the Refuge

Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge offers space for educators to conduct outdoor classroom activities in areas open to the public. Educators are welcome to use the Refuge for self led field trips, or to request a guided tour by filling out the Educational Visit Packet.



Due to low staffing, we are not able to offer guided field trips for fall of 2015.

Schools are welcome to lead self-guided trips on the Refuge, and can schedule self-guided trips by emailing RidgefieldEducation@fws.gov to reserve your spot. You do not need to fill out an educational request form. You DO need to schedule your visit to ensure that there are no conflicts with other groups.

We are hoping to have the capacity to host guided field trips in the spring of 2016.


How to schedule a field trip to the Refuge

Guided field trips are generally available September-October, and April-June, depending on Staff and Volunteer availability.

Reservations are required to avoid conflicts with other groups. It is also recommended that educators or activity coordinators conduct a site visit prior to the scheduled field trip date to become familiar with refuge facilities, layout, and regulations. To schedule your trip:

How much does it cost to visit the Refuge?

Educational Field trip groups usually qualify for a fee waiver, making the field trip free. To qualify,  you must be visiting the Refuge for educational purposes and integrating their field trip into a larger course of study that focuses at least partially on the natural or cultural environment.

Will there be a tour guide available to lead my group during our field trip?

The Refuges in the Complex do not have full time educators on staff, therefore guided tours are usually limited to when staff or refuge volunteers are available. Groups wishing to have a tour guide during their field trip must inform the refuge staff at the time the reservation is made. Being specific about tour information or topic(s) to be addressed during the trip will help determine who is selected as a knowledgeable guide. If a tour guide is not available, educators should be prepared to lead their own groups while on the refuge.

What resources do you provide for educators who do not get a Refuge tour guide?

Ridgefield NWR Educators GuideEducators Guide Cover

  • A Refuge Educator’s Guide is available to assist teachers and group leaders to prepare students for a visit to the refuge. It includes both indoor and outdoor educational lessons and projects.
    You may download a copy of the Refuge Educator’s Guide here as a pdf file – 4.6 MB.


Oaks to Wetlands Adventure Website

  • Though a bit dated, the Oaks to Wetlands Adventure web page has tons of great information about the Refuge, and ideas for concepts and lessons to incorporate into your field trip. Note that the contact information on this site is not up to date.


Dusky Duffel Backpacks dusky duffel

  •  The Dusky Duffel backpacks contain binoculars, field guide identification books, equipment, and  lesson exercises that may be conducted in the field. These can be checked out by teachers, scout  groups, or other groups wanting to explore the refuge on their own. Other publications are usually  available at no cost and include posters, coloring books, informational brochures, and flyers. These  can be reserved by calling the Refuge office or emailing Ridgefieldeducation@fws.gov .


Teacher Training and Workshops

  • Periodically, teacher workshops are conducted on the refuge. Check the Ridgefield NWR web page for upcoming workshops.


Alex and Dusky Story Book and Field Journalalex and dusky cover

  • Created by Portland based artist and educator Laura Devito, this story book and accompanying curriculum introduces students to the plants and animals at the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge by following the misadventures of Alex, a young student who has come out to the Refuge for a field trip. The book and curriculum can be used together on your field trip, or the book can be used as an in classroom activity before visiting the Refuge.
  • Download the Story Book
    Download the Accompanying Curriculum
    ead it online with ISSUU


What about an educational visit to the Plankhouse or for cultural resources on Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge?

For information about education and the cultural resources on Ridgefield NWR visit the Cultural Resources webpage for Ridgefield NWR (this takes you to the US Fish & Wildlife Service website) or visit the Cathlapotle Plankhouse page on our website.

Special events including educational demonstrations and tours are offered periodically throughout the year. These events may be appropriate for educators to attend with their students. Please check the Plankhouse Programs page on our website.