Welcome Cohort 18!

(Back row) Carson, Ali, Dianna, Adam, Nicola, Thumper, Chris, Matt, (front row) Christine, Amy, Spencer

Cohort 18 arrived in early August 2018 to begin their residency with the Place-based Learning course. They spent the next five weeks learning from community members, discovering the ecology of the bioregion, and hiking, canoeing, and learning in the North Cascades.

As the tide comes in, Joshua Porter, Graduate Program Director, facilitates a float "up" the Skagit River near LaConner, Washington during the Place-based Learning course. Joshua instructs the course for the first six weeks of the graduate program.

In their final quarter of residency, Cohort 17 students Liz Grewal and Brendan McGarry, supported the 2018 Place-based course as teaching assistants for their Leadership Track positions. Aly Gourd, Graduate Community Engagement Coordinator, also spent time in the field in support of the course, including the 9-day backpacking trip in North Cascades National Park.

Beginning at the North Cascades Environmental Learning Center, Cohort 18 students engage with various community members, organizations, and locations. Locations from top left photo clockwise: Bayview State Park, The Keller Property near Marblemount, Viva Farms, and the Confluence Property.

Since the Place-based Learning course, Cohort 18 has taken courses in Northwest Natural History with Joshua Porter, and Environmental Education Foundations, co-taught by Western Washington University (WWU) faculty and North Cascades Institute staff. Students have just started their Curriculum in Environmental Education course instructed by Sylvia Hadnot, new faculty in 2019. In the Spring, students will begin their teaching practicum taught by Kimber Burrows, Mountain School Manager, and finish their residency engaging in a Leadership Track position during Summer 2019 before they head to WWU for the final two quarters of the program.

With the addition of an Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU), nine of the graduate students are currently living in Marblemount at the Confluence Property. Students live in either the Blue House or the Diobsud House adjacent to the Skagit River and Confluence Garden.

Students are digging into land stewardship opportunities at the Confluence and continuing the transformation into a community oriented space. Projects so far have included trail building, invasive species removal, phenology plot documentation, and winter garden preparation.

2018 All-Cohort Day

Cohort 17 & Cohort 18 wrapped up the summer with an All-Cohort day! The day included celebratory games and activities, natural history presentations by Cohort 17, and an incredible shared meal prepared by the cohorts.

Cohort 17 Transition Trek

After a year in residency, Cohort 17 transitioned from their time in the North Cascades to Bellingham with a transition trek to Shaw Island. The cohort spent time reflecting on their residency and enjoyed some island time together before they started their classes at Western Washington University in September.

Read more about Cohort 17's incredible year in residency on our blog Chattermarks!

Locations from top left photo clockwise: Classroom in Bloom in Winthrop, Tiffany Mountain, Studying bees in the Methow Valley, Canoeing on the Skagit River, Together in the Methow

Graduation Week: Featuring Cohort 16 Capstone Presentations

Cohort 16 spent the week of March 17th-23rd sharing their Capstone projects and celebrating their accomplishments at the Environmental Learning Center. Read more about the week in the blog post 2018 Capstones and Graduation curated by Montana Napier (Cohort 17).

Reconnecting at the Learning Center: A letter by Holli Watne

Holli Watne (Cohort 15), attended the capstone presentations of Cohort 16 in March 2018. Since attending, she has reflected on the experience of revisiting the Environmental Learning Center campus, and reconnecting with graduate students, staff, and a place she calls "home".

A year after my own graduation, I was lucky enough to be able to spend capstone week at the Environmental Learning Center. This was my chance to see every member of Cohort 16 shine in their own unique way. There were many moments during that week which I will hold in my heart as a member of the North Cascades Institute graduate community.

Below is one of them: Three generations of graduate collection coordinators (Me: Cohort 15, Nick Engelfried: Cohort 16, and Gina Roberti: Cohort 17) got together, with whoever else was interested in our “challenge by choice”. This was to learn to do a study skin, which involved taking a couple of hours after a long day of presentations to unwind by cutting open dead birds, removing their flesh, delicately scrapping the fat off their skin, and sewing them up like a teddy bear – all in the name of science. Most people might be grossed out at the idea, and many people respectfully declined the invitation, but a few people were as excited at the opportunity as I was. We had a great time, especially after Saul Weisberg joined us and told us stories about when he was learning how to do study skins. Moments like this leave me feeling like I am home – a place where I can let my guard down and just be me. In a way, the Environmental Learning Center is home - a place of managed risks, held by a collection of strange and caring people with fierce hearts.

My cohort would sometimes refer to this community as “this weird thing that is us”a collection of diverse and beautiful individuals, that share something crazy and often uncomfortable, but so important: love and growth. At the time we coined this phrase, I thought of the community mostly as my own cohort – but now I see that it extends far beyond that.

-Holli Watne (Cohort 15)

Passing of the Paddle through the years...

Each year during graduation week, students engage in a "Passing of the Paddle" ceremony. Every ceremony is unique to the graduating cohort as they "pass the paddle" to the cohort in residency.

Cohort 17 and Cohort 16

Cohort 16 & Cohort 15

Cohort 14 & Cohort 13

Summit to Salish Sea: inquiries and essays

Cohort 15 graduated in March 2017 and has since published their work in Huxley College's graduate journal, Summit to Salish Sea: Inquiries and Essays. Each Capstone reflects the unique perspectives of each student as it relates to their experiences and understandings of environmental education.

Where are they now?

Our alumni are engaged in a variety of organizations throughout the Pacific Northwest, the United States, and beyond. Check out a sampling of what our alumni are up to and the variety of organizations graduate students are working for or starting themselves!

Amy brown - Cohort 4

After twelve years of involvement with North Cascades Institute, Amy began a position in May with the City of Bellingham as the Parks and Volunteer Coordinator. She is also on the board of the Vamos Outdoors Project.

Katie roloson - Cohort 8

After ten years at North Cascades Institute, Katie Roloson took a job in 2017 at Yellowstone Forever as the Field Campus Manager in Yellowstone National Park.

Aneka Sweeney - Cohort 8

Aneka is currently working with the Whatcom Conservation District as the Education and Outreach Coordinator. Since joining the WCD in 2014, she has been working to strengthen the community outreach and sustainable education programs.

Lindsay Walker - Cohort 12

Lindsay started a new position in 2018 as the Program Coordinator for the Sound Policy Institute at University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, WA. The Sound Policy Institute builds the capacity of individuals and groups, both on campus and in the regional community, to actively and effectively engage in environmental decision making. Lindsay learned of the position through the North Cascades Institute alumni network.

Sarah Stevens - Cohort 13

In 2018, Sarah started working for a nonprofit called Outdoor Arts and Recreation in the Methow Valley. Outdoor Arts and Recreation is a new organization, and are in the beginning stages of determining the long-term vision and programming. They have put on three major events throughout the year including the Rendezvous Festival, the Steamboat Stringband Jamboree, and the Trail Running Film Festival.

I greatly value the community that North Cascades Institute has helped create and would be thrilled to have more people with North Cascades Institute connections involved with Outdoor Arts and Recreation. If you'd like to be involved with us, either as a donor, volunteer, potential board member, or just to learn more, I'd love to hear from you.

Ginna malley Campos - Cohort 15

Ginna has been working with the organization Plenitud PR in Puerto Rico as the Educational Outreach Capacity Builder. Ginna is also the co-founder and co-coordinator of Camp Tabonuco, an experiential ecological camp for kids and youth located in the mountainous heart of the island. Since Hurricane María, Ginna has been working in different reconstruction efforts including: (re)building the camp facilities, coordinating immersion programs for youth, and finally incorporating Camp Tabonuco as a local non-profit.

ANNAH YOUNG - Cohort 15

City Sprouts Farm, located in the Birchwood Neighborhood in Bellingham and started by Annah and former North Cascades Institute staff member, Ellie Duncan, started their project in the spring of 2018. They grow an assortment of vegetables on a quarter acre plot owned by the Kulshan Community Land Trust. They are also the primary growers, and the coordinators for the Birchwood Community Farm Stand, and have been growing beets for the Bellingham Food Bank this year! If you are interested in volunteering with City Sprouts, contact them at citysproutsfarm@gmail.com. Annah also works for Cloud Mountain Farm Center as their Education Manager.

BEN Kusserow - Cohort 15

Ben is currently working at the Fab Lab Carnegie Science Center in Pittsburgh, PA, teaching STEM education in a "maker space." Ben also maintains his blog, "Rooted in Dreams" to speak to his experiences as an environmental educator.

Hanna Davis - Cohort 16

After graduating in March, Hanna has been working to establish a much-needed childcare organization based in Marblemount, WA, called Upriver Kids. Their vision is to ensure every upriver family has access to high-quality early childhood education that builds foundations for healthy children, families and communities. On September 22nd, they hosted an exciting fundraiser -- 2018 Marblemount Slug Races!

Upriver Kids is excited to share that, after much searching, they have found a wonderful facility to call home, and hope to be operational and serving infants, toddlers and preschool children early in 2019!

Nick engelfried - Cohort 16

Since graduating with Cohort 16 in March, Nick has been working on a project: launching a new nonprofit organization called Reconnect Earth, which works for a socially and ecologically just future by fostering and growing a network of empowered young leaders who will sustain the environmental movement for years to come.

Starting a nonprofit from the ground up has been a huge--at times challenging--adventure so far, but I'm drawing on many lessons I learned at North Cascades Institute to make it a success. By next year I hope Reconnect Earth will be ready to hold multiple extended backcountry trips for students from diverse backgrounds with an interest in social change and the outdoors.

Thank you to all of the alumni who contributed to our alumni updates! If you are interested in sharing updates about new employment, organizations you work for, or other opportunities, let us know!

Graduate Program Staff Updates


Cara joined the graduate program staff Fall 2018 as the Graduate Residency Coordinator! Welcome Cara!

Cara grew up on a lake in Michigan boating with her family and camping in her backyard during the summers. Since then, she has lived in the Weminuche Wilderness in Colorado, the Palouse prairie in Idaho, the channeled scablands of eastern Washington, and the Snohomish River watershed in Everett working as a backpacking guide and writing instructor. Cara lends her twin passions for expeditionary learning and ecofeminism to her mentorship role with the graduate program. Prior to coming to North Cascades Institute, Cara taught undergraduate courses in nature writing, women's literature, the graphic novel as literature, and podcasting. Cara has her master's degree in creative nonfiction and is working on a book that examines the intersection of illness, identity, and environmental toxicity. In her free time, Cara enjoys mountaineering, fresh water snorkeling during the salmon runs, and trail running with her dog Scout.

Lindsey Macdonald

Lindsey MacDonald, our Graduate Program Coordinator since 2015, moved on to a position in the Fall of 2017 at Western Washington University as the Sustainable Communities Partnership Program Coordinator. We our so thankful for the incredible work you have done and support you have given so many of us in our graduate program experience and we look forward to all of the amazing work you will continue to do!

Alumni through the years...

Submit your alumni photos to grad@ncascades.org to see them in the next newsletter!

Alumni Events

Look for email invitations or check out the alumni facebook page for alumni events happening in 2019. We're looking forward to seeing you all soon.

Thank you for reading!

Let us know what you would like to see more of to enhance the connections between the incredible alumni community.

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