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.
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.
Cohort 17 Transition Trek
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).
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)
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 email@example.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!
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, 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!