As today marks the last day of 2016, what better place than Chattermarks to look back at the memories and highlights of the year here at the North Cascades Institute. I have only recently joined as a contributor to the blog and many of the posts this past year were submitted by guests, naturalists, C15 graduate students and Ben Kusserow – our previous blog editor who left intimidatingly large shoes to fill! Before I started the graduate residency program, I frequently came to Chattermarks to get a better idea as to what my life would be like in the upper Skagit and the work being done by the Institute. The first hand narratives, naturalist tidbits, and expertise of all these contributors painted a rich picture, helping to prepare me for this year of living in the North Cascades. I hope you’ve found their contributions as helpful and informative as I did. Enjoy this look back at 2016!
One last group photo before these 5th graders head back to Bellingham after three days of Mountain School.
In my mind there isn’t a program at NCI that can compete with the energy and enthusiasm of Mountain School. Hundreds of students from all over the state participate in the program during fall and spring, spending three to five days exploring the trails and learning about mountain ecosystems through interdisciplinary activities.
- We always hope that when the students leave, they are taking with them positive and lasting memories. This year, instructors shared some of the letters they received from students in the post, “Dear Mountain School,” affirming our hopes.
- In October, we were all excited to see Mountain School in the cover story of National Geographic. The article highlighted the importance of getting young people and people of color into our National Parks.
Photo courtesy of Ben Kusserow, from his natural history project on bats in the North Cascades National Park.
2016 was full of educational opportunities here on Chattermarks. If you feel like your naturalist skills could use a brush up or you just want to learn something new, look no further. This year seemed to have a little bit of everything, from fungi to fire lookouts.
- Mike Rosekran did an incredible six part series on grizzly bears in the Pacific Northwest. Read Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, Part V, Part VI.
- One of the graduation requirements for the M.Ed Graduate Residency Program is a natural history project completed in the spring. This year, graduates shared their work with insightful posts that highlighted their topic of choice. Read about subalpine and alpine wildflowers, beavers, lichen (Part I and Part II), loons, bats (Part I and Part II), western red cedars, fire lookouts, wolverines, urban foraging, plant phenology, the social lives of trees (Part I Part II and Part III) and bioregionalism.
- What do you do when you find a dead bobcat in your shed? One of my favorite posts by graduate student Holli Watne answers this question in Skinning for Science: A Bobcat Case Study
Creative Resident, Evan Holmstrom, reading poems from his completed book, Outline of a Hollow Bird.
The Creative Residency program brings individuals from a wide variety of backgrounds – naturalists, writers, artists, photographers, poets and more – to the ELC to pursue their arts and share with our community. Revisit their work and experience here:
- Artist, geologist, and natural science illustrator – Véronique Robigou – shares her talents and experience in Winter Musing in an Alpine Refuge: Creative Residency January 18-30, 2016.
- An adventurer who loves to explore and write about expansive landscapes, Manasseh Franklin reflects on her time in the North Cascades in Integral Ice: A Creative Residence Reflection.
- With degrees in ecological design and planning, Faren Worthington and Oliver Osnoss created ecological development plans for the Blue House site in Marblemount. They shared their work in Ecological Design: A Blue House Project.
- Lauren Danner is a historian who has spent the past 15 years researching the North Cascades. Wanting to gain a more personal connection to this place, she spent several weeks as a Creative Resident, hiking, writing and sharing her research with NCI staff. She gave us a richly detailed account of her time in her post, Growing Roots In The Mountains.
- Patty DiRienzo is a photographer who enjoys capturing the relationship between people and environment in her work. She spent several days capturing such images of our Mountain School students on the trail. I spent some time discussing her work in Connecting The Dots: An Interview with Patty DiRienzo.
- Showing no limit to his talent, naturalist and creative resident, Evan Holmstrom, completed his book of poetry and shares a piece in Outline of a Hollow Bird: Poems by Evan Holmstrom.
M.Ed Graduate Residency Program
Cohort 15 and 16 getting to know one another this summer at the ELC.
We graduate students are frequent contributors here on Chattermarks. Beyond the natural history projects, Chattermarks is a place to share the unique opportunities and experiences we have while living in the North Cascades.
- Every quarter we participate in a Natural History Intensive, a week long trip of experiential and place-based learning. We meet with wildlife biologists, naturalists, park and forest service rangers, NCI staff and more, to build and gain a deeper understanding of this natural landscape. Check out our winter, spring, summer and fall retreats and relive our adventures.
- We celebrated the achievements and said goodbye to Cohort 14, given gracious advice from C15 and met the newest cohort, C16.
- We got an inside look at the annual graduate exchange with Islandwood and Wilderness Awareness School students and followed along on the conference adventures down valley.
But wait, there’s more!
Secretary of the Interior, Sally Jewell, meeting with Northwest Leadership Youth Conference participants.
- The Blue House farm made its debut and transformed into the Confluence Garden in Marblemount.
- Christian Martin, Communications and Marketing Manager of NCI, shared his 10 Favorite Things to Do in the North Cascades.
- We were introduced to the awesome experiential learning opportunities of Snow School on Mt. Baker.
- Going strong into its seventh year, the newly-named Northwest Leadership Youth Conference (previously the Youth Leadership Conference) was held at the Mountaineers headquarters in Seattle this fall.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this look back at 2016. To see everything that was accomplished this year gives me hope and excitement for 2017. I look forward to sharing those moments with you here on Chattermarks. Happy New Year!
Angela Burlile is a graduate student of North Cascades Institute and Western Washington University’s M.Ed. program and the current web resource editor graduate assistant. Growing up in Alaska, Angela feels most at home surrounded by mountains, glaciers, and turquoise rivers, making the North Cascades Institute a perfect fit. In her free time, Angela enjoys exploring the world, meeting its many inhabitants, sharing cups of coffee, climbing mountains and catching the sunrise.