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Make Eugene Your Classroom

Published: August 27, 2021

 

Enrichment opportunities for school children, both virtual and in-person, are plentiful across Lane County. If you are looking for educational activities or "field trips" for your homeschooled children, or to augment distance learning; here is a guide to helpful local programs. Some are free and some require paid registration.

Enhance the experience by creating an "education staycation" for your family— simply select a Eugene - Springfield hotel as your basecamp and then pick two or three activities from the list below. The kids won't forget this homeschool!

Cascades Raptor Center

Learn all about raptors with Eugene's amazing raptor rescue, rehabilitation and educational facility. The Cascades Raptor Center offers a personalized virtual program where you can schedule a Zoom session with a raptor "ambassador" and their handler. Choose an encounter with an owl, hawk, osprey or kestrel. You can also plan an at-home project using the resources and activities listed on their website. From making a paper mache owl, dissecting owl pellets to building a barn box, there are plenty of engaging educational things to do! If you want to tour in-person, please note that due to pandemic protocols, entrance may be limited—so confirm visitation policies in advance. 

Expand your study exploring the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife's birding resources. Meander the West Eugene Wetlands for family "fieldwork".

Whole Earth Nature School

Masked hikers spend the day outside exploring nature.

Photo: Whole Earth Nature School / EugeneCascadesCoast.org

The purveyors of one of the most popular local camp and after school programs — Coyote Kids — hosts a homeschooler's version at Mount Pisgah. For one day a week, your homeschooling student, along with a small pod of students, spends time immersed in nature learning new outdoor skills and quiet observation. Choose courses that highlight stealth and forest integration, naturalist studies or socio-emotional community building. But that's not all — Whole Earth Nature School also offers an extensive school year curriculum designed to teach forest skills. With all the variations, there is no excuse for your child not to have a little "dirt time" every week! 

Nearby Nature

Waxwing bird with berry by Quentin Furrow

Spot birds around town, like this Waxwing feasting on berries.

Photo: Quentin Furrow

Nearby Nature is offering Nature Schooling for families looking for activities they can do right in their neighborhood. For Fall 2021 you can also register your homeschool group for private in-person programs designed to complement your nature studies. 

Even if you don't enroll in Nearby Nature, take the children to Alton Baker Park to explore the park's interpretive plaques and art installations. From the Kalaypua Talking Stones to the Nobel Peace Laureate Project memorial, there is a lot to explore in the park.

Eugene Science Center

The Eugene Science Center is a great place to augment homeschooling topics on astronomy and science and they offer online science resources. After providing childcare and summer camps during the pandemic, the exhibit hall, and hopefully the planetarium, is scheduled to re-open to the public in mid-September 2021. Learn about the Earth, Moon and Sun or about planet Earth's volcanos, earthquakes and tsunamis on a 360-degree screen. 

Adventure! Children's Museum

The Adventure! Children's Museum at Valley River Center is currently open for limited hours. This creative playground for younger children's hands on exploration is a fun option for getting out of the house. Last year during the pandemic while they were closed, they offered online day camp and many creative craft and science kits to do at home. As requirements continue to change, check with them to see what innovative homeschooling options they are currently providing.

Museum of Culture & Natural History

Educational exhibits at the Museum of Natural and Cultural History.

Photo: Janelle Breedlove / Eugene, Cascades & Coast

Explore the Museum of Culture & Natural History during limited viewing hours, via the Museum at Home program and virtually via their online collections gallery. Homeschooling families can utilize the museum's extensive teaching resources for lesson plans and activities designed to complement a museum visit. Augment unit studies on Oregon with a deeper dive into the climate, landscapes and natural events that shaped our state. Study the archaeology that tells the stories of the First Nations through the present day.

Singing Creek Educational Center

Located in the historical Snapp House in Cottage Grove, this non-profit offers multiple educational programs including classes made for homeschoolers. This fall they are rolling out an entirely online history curriculum. Watch videos on how to churn butter and how to write with a quill pen. 

Sea Lion Caves

Take a day trip to the Oregon Coast to see the sea lions. Information-rich packets designed for school field trips can be downloaded on the Sea Lion Caves website. These packets are easily adapted for homeschool. Along with helpful planning tips for the visit, there are pre and post activities and worksheets to help students assimilate the experience. From learning about scientific principals to geology to history, there are many opportunities to tie-in grade school and middle school curriculum. One fun exercise requires an ice cream sandwich to simulate plate tectonics — the kids will love that for sure! 

The Sea Lion Caves are open daily but due to pandemic protocols, there may be a wait. Masks are required. 

More Coastal Education

Participate in Oregon State University's self-guided "Quests" along the Oregon Coast. There are two of these educational explorations right in Lane County: Siltcoos Lagoon Quest and Historic Florence Quest. Purchase a Quest book ($10) at the Florence Area Chamber of Commerce or Books 'n' Bears in Historic Old Town Florence to get started. 

Cape Perpetua is also a great place to explore from its tide pools to its stunning views. Their website provides pre-visit information for hiking and beach access.

Extend your marine studies and drive further up the coast to the Oregon Coast Aquarium. They have also compiled an extensive library of online educational resources

Eugene Public Library

Don't forget the Eugene Library for homeschooling resources! They offer online access to books, videos and music. Some in-person services have resumed with limited hours and new protocols for this fall.

Author: Taj Barnhart Morgan

Taj Barnhart Morgan is the Director of Content Strategy for Travel Lane County. A journalism graduate from the University of Oregon, Taj has two decades of special event management and hospitality marketing experience in San Diego, CA and Maui, HI. Passionate about mothering, and back to her Oregon roots, she is discovering the Eugene, Cascades & Coast region all over again through the eyes of her daughter.