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Naturally Wonderful Naturalists: New staff of 2016

March 7th, 2016 | Posted by in Institute News

As the snow is melting and the trees are budding, our Naturalist Team is getting ready for teaching in the mountains. At the North Cascades Institute‘s Environmental Learning Center the Senior Naturalist and Lead Program Assist will help guide the five new Naturalist Field Instructors over nine months of teaching in the mountains.

During the spring and fall of 2016 these naturalists will educate elementary through high school students in our Mountain School program about the numerous interactions in the surrounding ecosystem. During the summer they will be leading high school students on back country trips through our Youth Leadership Adventure program. Throughout their time here they will also have opportunities to lead Skagit Tours; a tour of Seattle City Light’s Skagit River Hydroelectric Project.

We look forward to their energy and enthusiasm in the variety of ways they will teach about the North Cascades!


Max Thomas

Max isn’t new to North Cascades Institute, but is taking on a new role with us. After 2 previous years as a seasonal naturalist, Max has moved into the Senior Naturalist position. This position supervises the naturalists and provides leadership and mentorship in our education programs, with a focus on Mountain School, Family Getaways and Basecamp. Max was raised in Minneapolis and went to college at the University of Minnesota Duluth where he received a degree in Outdoor Education. Chinese Teapots Wholesale Chinese Teapots Amber Spiral Bracelets
During college he found a variety of passions in the forms of canoeing, hiking, backpacking, snowboarding and cross-country skiing.  After college Max worked as an interpretation ranger in Glacier National Park.  The beauty rocked his socks off.  After 4 years in Montana, the Cascade Mountains called his name and has found a new home in the Evergreen State.  The beauty is still rocking his socks off.  When he isn’t playing nature games with fifth graders or camping in the mountains, Max can be found fiercely rooting on Minnesota sports teams.

» Continue reading Naturally Wonderful Naturalists: New staff of 2016


“Golden Teddy Award” for Family Getaways

August 4th, 2015 | Posted by in Institute News

We are honored that our Family Getaways were a finalist for a “Golden Teddy” award for Favorite Camps as voted by the readers of ParentMap magazine! This influential magazine for Pacific Northwest parents and families wrote:

North Cascades Environmental Learning Center’s weekend Family Getaways offer a premium ‘camping’ experience and you’ll love it. No need to bring a tent and no need to miss gourmet eating; sleep in a comfy rooms and enjoy healthy, family-style meals in the dining hall. In between sleeping and eating, soak up the stunning North Cascades scenery on hikes, during organized games, while reading or sketching, or partaking in whatever kind of family fun suits you.

Future Family Getaways are offered August 14-16, 28-30 and October 2-4. Information and registration at


2015 Classes & Family Getaways, Holiday Gift Certificates

December 1st, 2014 | Posted by in Institute News


North Cascades Institute is excited to announce new Winter and Spring Field Excursions just posted to our website and open for registration:

Dec 6: Salmon and Eagles of the Skagit with Libby Mills
Jan 17: Salmon on the Nooksack with Brady Green
Feb 8: Birding Blaine, Birch Bay and Semiahmoo with Joe Meche
Feb 21: Birding the Greater Skagit Delta with Libby Mills
Feb 22: Winter Tracking Snowshoe Excursion with David Moskowitz
April 3: Ross Lake: Exploring the Draw Down by Canoe with John Reidel

Class descriptions, pricing and registration at or (360) 854-2599.

We’ve also posted and opened for registration Family Getaways 2015, earlier than ever before! Plan ahead and choose your weekend for an epic family adventure at the North Cascades Environmental Learning Center on Diablo Lake in the heart of North Cascades National Park.

July 3-5, 2015 July 17-19, 2015 | July 24-26, 2015 August 14-16, 2015 | August 28-30, 2015 

Information and registration at


Tis the season! Once again we are offering our annual Extended Value holiday gift certificate promotion, where you can purchase $100 value towards 2015 Institute programs for only $80! Purchase before Dec. 22 and we’ll include a package of our blank note cards featuring art from Molly Hashimoto, John Cole and other Northwest artists. It’s okay to gift yourself and there is no limit on how many gift certificates you can buy!

Purchase by calling (360) 854-2599 or emailing

Extended value gift certificates: $100 value for only $80!

December 3rd, 2012 | Posted by in Institute News

In the spirit of giving back to all of you who have supported us over the years, as well as to encourage new friends, North Cascades Institute is pleased to offer extended value gift certificates during this holiday season. These limited edition gift certificates offer $100 value for only $80 and can be used toward 2013 Institute programs.

We’ll also include a package of our blank note cards featuring art from Molly Hashimoto, Chinese Teapots Wholesale Chinese Teapots Amber Spiral Bracelets
John Cole and other artist friends of the Institute.

Share your love of the Pacific Northwest with friends, family and other loved ones by giving them a gift that will enrich their lives and provide a way to get outdoors in a meaningful way. Gift certificates can be used for Institute tuition-based programs including Family Getaways, Base Camp, Field Excursions, Learning Center classes and other offerings (not valid for Skagit Tours, bookstores or youth programs).

And yes, it’s okay to gift yourself too!

To take advantage of this special limited time offer,

1. Call our registrar at (360) 854-2599, or
2. Email, or
3. Stop by our Sedro-Woolley office at 810 State Rt 20, Sedro-Woolley WA 98284, 9-4 M-F.

We accept Visa, MasterCard, Discover, cash and personal checks. This is a limited time offer valid through December 20, 2012. For holiday arrival, please purchase by December 17, 2012.

We look forward to talking with you soon!

North Cascades VIPs: Highlighting Institute Superstars

February 4th, 2012 | Posted by in Institute News

Written by guest contributor Deb Martin, the North Cascades Institute Registrar.

Happy New Year! As our Silver Anniversary comes to an end, we want to move forward in our 26th year by recognizing the strong connections we have with our participants and partners. We would not be where we are or who we are today without so many talented and passionate customers, teachers, students and staff.

We thought it would be fun to begin 2012 by spotlighting a few folks who have been great supporters of the Institute and our mission to conserve and restore Northwest environments through education. We are fortunate to have many such people and appreciate each and every one. Without further ado, here are some people that help make our work rewarding, organized by different program areas.


Nancy participated in her first program with North Cascades Institute in 2002. Since that first experience, she has participated in a total of 19 programs! In 2011, Nancy participated in eight different programs including the Hands to Work Stewardship Weekend, two Diablo Downtimes, four Base Camps and the Artistic Weaving with Cedar Workshop. Nancy is also a donor in support of Institute youth programs.

FAMILY PROGRAMS: The Tebbs/Armstrong Family

Matthew Tebbs, Dana Armstrong and Benjamin Armstrong (age 7) have made Family Getaways a family tradition. Since we launched our Family Getaways when we opened the North Cascades Environmental Learning Center, the Tebbs/Armstrongs have participated in five Family Getaways, one each year from 2007-2011. In 2011, they extended their getaway experience by adding extra days through our Base Camp option. We are very honored to be a part of this family’s’ history!

» Continue reading North Cascades VIPs: Highlighting Institute Superstars

A Weekend of Warmth and Snow

December 8th, 2011 | Posted by in Life at the Learning Center

Written by North Cascades Education Intern, Matt Kraska.

It’s hard to believe it has already been two weeks since Thanksgiving. As many North Cascades Institute staff said their goodbyes and left to spend Thanksgiving with family and friends, others were saying hello as they arrived at the Environmental Learning Center for the Thanksgiving Family Getaway. Families traveled from a variety of places to spend a few days celebrating and feasting together. In contrast to our fall Mountain School programs that fill the dining hall with 5th-8th grade youth, this event was filled with folks of all ages.

The giant snowman built in the middle of the amphitheatre, a tribute to the winter wonderland of the North Cascades.

The forest around Diablo Lake was blanketed with snow from days earlier, and there was more in the forecast for the weekend. All afternoon on Thanksgiving day the drizzle was on the verge of becoming snow, and soon enough flakes of white began to fall from the once gray sky. For many, this was the first snow of the year. Laughter filled the campus as everyone began catching snowflakes on their tongues, throwing snowballs, and building giant snow people. A little winter weather is sometimes all it takes to bring people together.

» Continue reading A Weekend of Warmth and Snow

A Science Mystery

August 24th, 2011 | Posted by in Life at the Learning Center

I was leading a hike on the Diablo Lake Trail during our August Family Getaway, when one of the participants noticed something odd on the ground at the side of the path. We all stopped and got down on our hands and knees to see what he had found.

At first, it looked like a really big feather. It was about five inches long, an inch-and-a-half wide, and furry, in short, a tail that was detached from some sort of small-ish mammal. I picked it up, deciding to bring it back to the Learning Center with me to see if I could figure out what it came from and why it was laying next to the trail.

A quarter-mile farther up the trail we found a banana slug, and when we got down to look at it, we realized that it was on top of another tail. Where are these detached tails coming from?

After puzzling about it for a while with some of my coworkers, I decided to ask our Science Coordinator, Jeff Anderson, to see if he had any ideas. And he did! The conclusion? A flying squirrel. The anatomy index at has this to say:

Flying squirrels have “break-away” tails. Should a predator attack and grab a flyer’s tail, escape is possible, if only at the cost of part of its tail, not its life. The sight of a wild flying squirrel with half a tail is not an uncommon sight. The affected squirrel makes adjustments to this loss and can live a normal life afterwards.

Mystery solved.

To learn more about flying squirrels, visit