Chattermarks

From North Cascades Institute

Search Chattermarks

Archives

Uplift Group

Uplift: Youth in Action for the Colorado Plateau

May 17th, 2015 | Posted by in Graduate M.Ed. Program

One of the pillars of North Cascade Institute and Western Washington University’s M.Ed. graduate program is a “sense of place.” This can be hard to define, but often includes an understanding of the natural landscape, knowledge of cultural history, and the feeling of community. Over the past nine months, the mountains of the North Cascades and the shore of Diablo Lake have become a second (or third, or fourth) home. There is another place that has always felt like home: the Colorado Plateau. The Colorado Plateau is a 130,000 square mile area that spans parts of Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, and Colorado. It is home to ten National Parks, 17 National Monuments, the Colorado River, and mountains standing up to 11,000 feet high.

The Colorado Plateau gave me my most rewarding employment and confirmed for me that I am destined for a life outdoors and many years of teaching. It was there that I first developed a deep connection with land and learned innumerable lessons about myself. So, I when I heard about the Grand Canyon Trust holding a conference in mid-April, I knew I had to go. With the blessing of all the staff at North Cascades Institute, I flew to Flagstaff, AZ on April 17th.

» Continue reading Uplift: Youth in Action for the Colorado Plateau

DSC_0096

Path for Youth: Emma Ewert

May 12th, 2015 | Posted by in Graduate M.Ed. Program

Fifteen year after attending North Cascades Institute’s Mountain School at Newhalem, Emma Ewert is coming full circle. This fall, she will join our fifteenth cohort in the Masters of Environmental Education degree program and teaching Mountain School!

Emma attended Mountain School with her 5th grade classroom from Lopez Elementary School, where her father Greg Ewert was a teacher.

“We were at the Newhalem campground and what I remember most is the rain,” she recalls. “It rained a lot and we were outside most of the time, yet we still had so much fun.”

Emma still remembers learning the names of Cascadia’s native trees, and today can point out a Western hemlock or Douglas fir. She also recalls learning the cultural history of many plants, such as nettles, and how enthusiastic the instructors were.

She felt comfortable at Mountain School because of a lifetime spent exploring the outdoors with her family, including frequent trips to the North Cascades and Olympic Peninsula.

“It is so important to get kids to learn where they come from, what we have here,” she says. “If we don’t understand what we have, it is easier to not to take care of it. Making decisions about sustainability and conservation is much easier if you have already learned to love it.  This is especially important since we are so urban these days.”

Later on, Emma left Lopez Island to study international development abroad. She returned back to Lopez when her father got cancer and, with her mom and two sisters, made the most of his last nine months, spending precious time together.

In his last days, Greg received notes from a broad spectrum of students, friends and colleagues who said over and over how inspired they were by him as a teacher and mentor. Every fall, he took his students camping in the Olympics, and this stuck with his students too.

Emma enjoyed the special time with her father until he passed away in August 2012.

Considering her next move, she wondered how to combine the elements of the things she loves — education, being with kids outdoors, learning about nature – and her earlier Mountain School experiences kept coming up.

“I realized that it is in these moments – backpacking, camping, loving the outdoors ‑ when I am the happiest, so why not figure out how to do this as a job?” Emma explained. “Plus, doing this work keeps me connected to my father, getting to pass a love for the outdoors on to kids continues his legacy.”

Offered in partnership with Huxley College of the Environment at Western Washington University, North Cascades Institute’s M.Ed. residency program prepares students in all aspects of environmental education while living among the towering peaks of the North Cascades at the Environmental Learning Center on Diablo Lake. In the first year of the program, students take classes on teaching strategies, natural history and curriculum development – skills that they are able to instantly put in to practice through teaching 5th through 12th grade students in Mountain School.

“I was drawn to the Institute’s M.Ed. program because it is really experiential and hands-on,” Emma says. “Sure, there are classes too, but you’re also immediately doing something with this information. I’m just really excited to get up there and start the program!”

Fifteen years after learning about native plants and glaciers in the rain as a Mountain School student, Emma will return to the North Cascades this summer, as a teacher, as a graduate student and as a proud daughter carrying forward her father’s legacy of education and loving the great outdoors.

C13

Passing the Paddle: Cohort 13 Graduation

April 3rd, 2015 | Posted by in Graduate M.Ed. Program

Time has a variable quality when you live in the mountains. Spring can descend on you with no warning, like it happened overnight, but a day can stretch on eternally when staring at the umpteenth draft of a project. When I worked as a wilderness therapy guide, the students had a saying: “The days go by like weeks but the weeks go by like days.” So it is here, too, sometimes.

Somehow, without us noticing, the students of Cohort 14 have completed nearly nine of our thirteen month residency. An even bigger milestone hit; one that served as a reminder of our trajectory and where we’ll be in exactly one year: graduation.

In the two days leading up to graduation on March 19th, the members of Cohort 13 presented their capstone projects to an audience of friends, family, North Cascades Institute staff, and Cohort 14 students. These capstone projects focus on “a topic that has intrigued [the students] throughout their graduate school experience, connecting their experiences within environmental education, natural history, sense of place and the future of education” (quoted from ncascades.org).

As a relatively new graduate students, and never having seen a capstone presentation before, I had no idea what to expect. Frankly, I still don’t. Cohort 13’s projects spanned an incredible range of presentation styles and topics. Due to a change in the schedule of the graduate program, and the flurry of activity that C13 was in the midst of when we arrived at the Environmental Learning Center last July, the two cohorts have had very little interaction. But these capstone presentations gave me excellent insight into each student’s passions and values.

Kaci Darsow’s Doing.Myself.Justice. felt like a true performance piece. One that intimately explored Kaci’s identity, sense of justice, and shifting perspective during their time in graduate school.

Katherine Renz’s No More Icebreakers: Environmental Education for the Rest of Us took us inside the walls of Phyte Club: a visionary bar with the goal of educating customers about the natural world through botanically infused libations and weekly events.

Phyte Club
Did I mention that Phyte Club also plays heavy metal?

» Continue reading Passing the Paddle: Cohort 13 Graduation

Profile of a Graduate M.Ed. Student: Lauren Marziliano

March 14th, 2015 | Posted by in Graduate M.Ed. Program

“I have looked back on that time over and over again as one of the most informative times of my life.”

Lauren Marziliano reflects on her experience in our Graduate M.Ed. program, and how it led to her current job as teacher at the Waskowitz Environmental Leadership School, in our new video. Lauren is an alumni who graduated from North Cascades Institute and Huxley College of the Environment’s Graduate M.Ed. Program in 2004. In this short video, she shares why she signed up for the program, what she got out of it and what opportunities awaited her when she graduated and started looking for a job.

 

You too can establish your career in environmental education by earning a Master of Education while working with the Northwest’s best educators, naturalists and conservation leaders! North Cascades Institute offers a unique professional residency program designed to prepare students in all aspects of environmental education while living among the towering peaks of the North Cascades region in Washington State.

Unlike many other graduate residency experiences, our professional residency is fully integrated into a degree program at Huxley College of the Environment at Western Washington University.

A Master of Education in Environmental Education is earned upon completion of the the seven-quarter program, along with Certificates in Leadership and Nonprofit Administration and Northwest Natural History awarded by North Cascades Institute. Course work explores environmental education while placing an emphasis on field science, cultural studies, teaching and nonprofit administration.

For more information on how to apply, visit www.ncascades.org/study or email to ncigrad@ncascades.org.

Interview and editing by Christian Martin. Shot by Benj Drummond.

WintHxGroup

Chasing Winter: A Natural History Retreat

February 28th, 2015 | Posted by in Graduate M.Ed. Program

One of the highlights of this my time in this graduate program so far (seven months!) has been our seasonal natural history retreats. In the fall, Cohort 14 went over to the Methow Valley, which is quickly becoming our favorite place, and spent a week camping outside of Winthrop. We hiked, explored, skinned deer at the start of hunting season with Katie Russell, learned about the Methow Beaver Project, and counted migratory raptors with Kent Woodruff of the Chelan Ridge Raptor Migration Project, part of Hawkwatch International.

From February 2nd through the 6th (or 8th, for some of us), we tucked ourselves away in the woods near Early Winters Campground in Mazama, WA, and ventured into the snow each day to learn new skills and enjoy one of the few places in the state where winter seemed to be in full swing.

Monday

Most of us don’t arrive until the evening. How cruel of a joke it seems to be that we drive for eight hours from Diablo… only to end up just 50 miles away from the Environmental Learning Center. We rejoiced, however, when we crossed Stevens Pass and saw snow for the first time in weeks. It gave us a taste of the winter wonderland that awaited us in the Methow Valley. But our restless legs were soothed by the sight of fat, fluffy snowflakes falling on a silent stretch of Highway 20 once we traveled west out of Twisp. The whole van fell silent: mesmerized by the calm.

» Continue reading Chasing Winter: A Natural History Retreat

IEGroup

Connections in the North Cascades

January 31st, 2015 | Posted by in Graduate M.Ed. Program

by Rachel Gugich, M.Ed. Graduate Student

The point at which two or more things are connected, A feeling of understanding and ease of communication between two or more people.”

These are definitions I found when looking up the word connection. This feeling of connection was on full display on the weekend of January 17th at the Environmental Learning Center when the graduate students of Cohort 14 hosted students from IslandWood of Bainbridge Island, WA and Wilderness Awareness School of Duvall, WA. This conference was the first of three events in the 9th Annual Instructor Exchange, with each school getting the chance to host and show other instructors what makes their program experience unique. 

IEPyramidPyramid Peak presiding over the Environmental Learning Center

North Cascade Institute’s Instructor Exchange was titled Cascade Connections, alluding to the mountains that define our landscape, and the connections across mountains and water that we hope to form with other like-minded, passionate instructors.

IEHikingGroupA group poses with Diablo Lake in the background

Everyone arrived a little before lunchtime on Saturday. Introductions were made and we were off! Workshops, led by members of Cohort 14, were offered in the afternoon. These workshops included Glacier and Geology; Cedars in the North Cascades; Literature and Poetry on the Peaks and A Snapshot of the North Cascades. Within these sessions students from IslandWood and Wilderness Awareness School chose the workshops they would like to attend, or were able to explore the campus and landscape on their own. I led the class A Snapshot of the North Cascades. This was an amazing opportunity. I had the chance to interact with other instructors, to show them some of my favorite spots on campus, including the Buster Brown and Sourdough Creek Overlooks. There were opportunities to chat, take photos, and throw snow balls.

IEOregonGrapeA photo of Oregon grape taken during Snapshot of the North Cascades
 IESourdoughCreekExploring Sourdough Creek

The workshops later in the afternoon included Wolverine Studies; A Cultural History of the Upper Skagit; Wolf, Grizzly, Fisher Reintroduction to the North Cascades and A Conversation on Wilderness. These workshops offered a space for dialogue and exchange of knowledge and stories.

IESessionWolf, Grizzly, and Fisher Reintroduction session

» Continue reading Connections in the North Cascades

CSLA_exploration

Concrete Summer Learning Adventure

November 17th, 2014 | Posted by in Graduate M.Ed. Program

By Tyler Chisolm, Graduate M.Ed. Student, Cohort 13

Time flies when you’re having fun… and learning? The Concrete Summer Learning Adventure (CSLA), which wrapped up on August 31st, was another huge success for the Concrete community helping to fight summer learning loss and hunger while promoting healthy habits, outdoor exploration, literacy, and, above all, fun! In the second year running, CSLA served 58 students ranging from incoming first graders to incoming sixth graders with the majority of students in the 6 to 8-year-old range. Here’s a peek at some of the fun that was had this summer:

Summer Learning Loss and Literacy

CSLA_literacy
Camper works on his literacy skills as he racks up reading minutes
 

Of the 58 students participating in CSLA, 88% either improved or maintained their reading level after participating in almost 36 hours of interactive literacy activities, including the ever popular Sight Word Animal Relays! Campers were even encouraged to read outside of camp with the promise of a bicycle-blended blueberry milkshake when reaching a cumulative total of 5,000 minutes of reading on the READ-O-METER. This 5,000-minute goal was accomplished (and then some) with help from Page Ahead [http://pageahead.org/], which donated enough books for each student to choose and keep four books at their own reading level. One camper showed her appreciation, and need, by saying “now I can read at home too!” The literacy education was supplemented by AWE [http://www.awelearning.com/], an interactive computer-based learning system, one of which is currently available at the Upper Skagit Library in Concrete [http://www.upperskagit.lib.wa.us/]. And speaking of the library, library director Brooke Pederson was a big hit when she came to camp to read books pertaining to each week’s theme.

Hunger and Healthy Habits

 

CSLA_hunger1
Campers enjoyed trying new healthy foods!
 

» Continue reading Concrete Summer Learning Adventure