Portland, OR

Site Leaders

Brynna Gaffney

Maria Samaritano

Type of Service


Site Partner(s)

Portland Parks and Recreation



Departure Date


Return Date






Site Leader Description #1

Brynna is a third year Public Policy & Leadership major from Wilmington, Delaware. She was a participant on the Anza Borrego CA trip in 2019 where she learned how much she loves the local, state, and national parks in our country. She is eager to see how the park system in Portland complements the urban lifestyle of the city by hiking and experiencing all it has to offer. Although she’s never been to Oregon, Brynna is beyond excited to *eat*, ahem, she means *explore* with you while there :) On grounds you can find her empowering middle school girls through YWLP, giving admissions and historical tours of UVA, procrastinating in Alderman Gov Docs, drinking coffee, and tagging Maria in memes on Facebook.

Site Leader Description #2

Maria is a third year studying Biomedical Engineering with a Business minor. She is a proud Long Islander who can talk for hours about their superior pizza and bagels (sorry Benny’s and Bodo’s will just never compare). Last spring break, Maria was a participant on the Death Valley trip, where she got to learn firsthand that there are some places in California where palm trees are NOT welcome. She is already checking out the Yelp reviews of the yummiest eats in Portland, as well as scoping out the best spots to catch a gorgeous sunset. Back in Cville, you can find Maria planning social events for engineers, volunteering at the Shelter for Help in Emergency, ballin’ UP at the AFC, jammin’ to one of Brynna’s killer playlists, and of course, laughing at aforementioned Facebook memes while procrastinating with said Delawarean in aldy.

Trip Logistics

Our trip will begin the evening of Friday March 6th with a drive to Northern Virginia for a pre-early-morning-flight sleepover at one of our homes. On March 7th, we will fly into Portland International Airport and head over to Hostel NW Portland, our home for the week! This is super exciting because we will have access to showers, WiFi, and a kitchen, as well as other amenities. We will pack lunches and cook dinners throughout the week, as well as explore the Portland food scene for multiple meals out. We will be working with Portland Parks and Recreation in several of the parks in the city, but will have plenty of time for recreational excursions. To explore the city and the surrounding area, we will use the incredibly accessible public transportation and Car2Go services available in Portland. We will head back to Portland International Airport in the morning of Saturday March 14th, fly into Northern Virginia, and drive back to Charlottesville.

Participant Requirements

The most important thing is that participants have positive attitudes and open minds! Our work with Portland Parks and Recreation requires you be unafraid of waking up on the earlier side (7am ish) and getting your hands dirty. Participants should be excited to learn about Portland in addition to exploring it (and ideally are as excited about the food scene as Brynna and Maria, but this is by no means a requirement :)). We will be doing some outdoorsy things (i.e. hiking, touring gardens, etc.), but no previous experience with these activities is necessary.

Service Activities

We will likely be completing service 4 or 5 out of our 7 days in Portland. Service Days will begin around 8 am and conclude around 3 pm. The Portland Park System is home to 144 parks totaling 11,600 acres, 220 miles of grails, and over a million trees. We will get to work in several of these parks doing trail maintenance, invasive species removal, tree surveyance, and anything else the park may need. We will get to learn about the work Portland Parks & Rec does, as well as utilize the trails and facilities they provide.

Recreational Activities

We hope to take advantage of all the environmental and cultural activities Portland has to offer! That includes hiking in Forest Park, exploring the Japanese Gardens, visiting Powell’s Books (the biggest bookstore in the country! Cooler than it sounds!), and maybe even going to the zoo after service days. On our days off we hope to travel to the Columbia Gorge to go hiking and Cannon Beach to hang out on the beach. Of course our recreational activities are flexible, and we’d love to shape our itinerary around the interests of our group.

Community/Area Background

Portland is the largest and most populous city in Oregon. The city sits on the Columbia and Willamette rivers, is located at the foot of Mount Hood, and is about an hour and a half away from Oregon’s coastal beaches. Portland is nationally known for its parks, bridges, bike paths, and environmentally-minded urban planning. As the unofficial-official mantra of Portland, “Keep Portland Weird” is a testament to the uniquely charming culture that permeates the city. Home to thriving music and art scenes, Portland is sure to provide incredible entertainment no matter what your interests are. Portland is also well-known for its coffee shops, food trucks, and various types of cuisine (sign us up!).

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