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Youth Ambassadors Trip Report: Old Growth Forest and Salmon

February 21st, 2018 | Posted by in Youth Adventures

The Youth Leadership Ambassadors program is an extension of our Youth Leadership Adventures summer program. The goal of the program is to further develop leadership and outdoor skills, facilitate service and stewardship in our local communities and ecosystems, and provide college preparedness support to high school students from Skagit and Whatcom County. While serving as Ambassadors, students will participate in work parties, attend field trip and receive 15 hours of college access curriculum.

Appearing for the first time on Chattermarks is Youth Ambassador Stepheny Lopez, a student at Mount Vernon High School. In this post she shares her experience of learning about old growth forest at Rockport State Park and eagle watching in Marblemount. Enjoy! 

On the early morning of January 6, 2018, nine dedicated North Cascade Institute Ambassadors attended their first Youth Ambassadors field trip of the year. Ellie and Amy, our group’s mentors, took us eagle watching in Marblemount. Many of us in the group were given the opportunity to try and learn new things; we also gained awareness about job and career opportunities that can help our success, and inform others about our environment.

Ellie Price posing as an eagle at Rockport State Park; artwork by Don Smith

Our first stop was to Rockport State Park, thirty minutes east on Highway 20 from the North Cascade Visitor Center in Sedro-Woolley, Washington. While at Rockport, the first thing we did was gear up with warm clothing. For many of us, we did not know how much clothing to wear, due to it being our first time hiking in cold weather, but it was all definitely worth the experience. Emily Jankowski then joined us during our arrival to help chaperone the field trip. She is an AmeriCorps volunteer from Skagit Fisheries Enhancement Group. Then Rockport State Park’s Interpretive Specialist, Amos Almy, guided us on a half-mile walk around the park, and informed us of the area’s natural history throughout our time on the trail.

» Continue reading Youth Ambassadors Trip Report: Old Growth Forest and Salmon

2017 Northwest Youth Leadership Summit

January 18th, 2018 | Posted by in Youth Adventures

The Northwest Youth Leadership Summit, now in its eighth year, is for young adults (ages 14-22) in the Pacific Northwest who have participated in outdoor, leadership, and/or stewardship programs. In 2017, graduate student Amy Sanchez attended the event, led a presentation, and enjoyed the festivities. 

In Amy’s own words:

As a student in the Graduate M.Ed. program, there are a number of opportunities to learn beyond schoolwork. My Work Study position as a Youth Leadership Adventures Graduate Assistant has been no exception to that. After returning from our Natural History Field course in the second week of October, I jumped into the swift moving river of planning the 2017 Northwest Youth Leadership Summit. This year was the eighth  Summit to take place, and the second time it’s been hosted at The Mountaineers in Seattle, Washington.

A group picture taken at the end of the day to commemorate a successful Summit; photo by Jodi Broughton.

Leading up to the Summit, I had the pleasure of working with and learning from an amazing team of individuals of staff from the North Cascades Institute, Mount Baker-Snoqualmie Forest Service, and Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park. They provided  insight into the immense amount of work that goes into coordinating an event for 150 young adults. Participants were given the chance to reconnect with fellow peers, many who had participated in outdoor programs, as well as with potential employers, internship opportunities, and college representatives. In addition to the  to networking, the Summit provided folks with workshops that included a wide range of topics and activities including a college prep presentation, an obstacle challenge course, and opportunities to discuss identity in the outdoors.

Crystal Sierra (left) and Alicia Raftery (right) excited for their chance to emcee the day’s events; photo by Jodi Broughton

We tried to make the Summit event as accessible to participants as possible.  All participants were provided with access to transportation both to and from the Summit. Shuttles and busses picked up groups from as far north as Bellingham, and as far south as Tukwila. My day began at 5:30am as I prepared myself to fulfill my role as a shuttle driver. After making sure I went through all of the safety checks, I made my way to the first pick up spot of the “Upriver Shuttle” in Rockport.

» Continue reading 2017 Northwest Youth Leadership Summit

Kulshan Creek Field Trip: The Search for Salmon at Cumberland Creek

January 5th, 2018 | Posted by in Youth Adventures

Kulshan Creek Neighborhood Youth Program is a year-round educational program that engages young people ages 5 to 18 from two Skagit Valley neighborhoods in a series of monthly field trips to explore the outdoors and learn about our local watersheds.

This post is courtesy of Ellie Price, the Youth Ambassadors and College Access Coordinator. In it she describes a Kulshan Creek outing at Cumberland Creek. 

The weather was cold and rainy, but this didn’t stop the intrepid Kulshan Creek crew from having a blast at during their monthly field trip and outing. About eight students, three adults, and four high school volunteers decked themselves out in rain gear and rain boots to brave the weather and check out the salmonids spawning at Cumberland Creek.

We arrived at the Skagit Land Trust’s property to a gentle drizzle and immediately warmed up by playing the Salmon Game. The Salmon Game involves pretending you are a young salmonid that has to swim from the stream you were born in out to sea, circle one of the adult volunteers four times to signify the four years you spend in the ocean, and finally face the host of obstacles blocking you from returning to your original starting point in your home stream. These obstacles included Officer Serrano, who acted as a fisherman and tried to catch the students, and Orlando Garcia who pretended to be a bear chasing after fleeing salmonids. Two high school volunteers also stood arm-in-arm in the middle of the field as a dam, which inhibited the salmonids from reaching their goal.

» Continue reading Kulshan Creek Field Trip: The Search for Salmon at Cumberland Creek

Youth Ambassadors Trip Report: Work Party and Salmon Viewing with NSEA

November 27th, 2017 | Posted by in Youth Adventures

The Youth Leadership Ambassadors program is an extension of our Youth Leadership Adventures summer program. The goal of the program is to further develop leadership and outdoor skills, facilitate service and stewardship in our local communities and ecosystems, and provide college preparedness support to high school students from Skagit and Whatcom County. While serving as Ambassadors, students will participate in work parties, attend field trip and receive 15 hours of college access curriculum. Ambassadors will contribute blog posts covering their adventures throughout the year here on Chattermarks.

Appearing for the first time on Chattermarks is Ellie Price, the Youth Ambassadors and College Access Coordinator. In this post she shares the experience of two high school Youth Ambassadors being joined by Western Washington University graduate students to work on a local stewardship project. 

Ellie Price, Inna Mayer, Taylor Ulrich, and Tavish Beals are ready for a day of service and fun!

» Continue reading Youth Ambassadors Trip Report: Work Party and Salmon Viewing with NSEA

Youth Leadership Ambassador Trip Report: Little Mountain

February 10th, 2017 | Posted by in Youth Adventures

The Youth Leadership Ambassadors program is an extension of our Youth Leadership Adventures summer program. The goal of the program is to further develop leadership and outdoor skills, facilitate service and stewardship in our local communities and ecosystems, and provide college preparedness support to high school students from Skagit and Whatcom County. While serving as Ambassadors, students will participate in work parties, attend field trip and receive 15 hours of college access curriculum. Ambassadors will contribute blog posts covering their adventures throughout the year here on Chattermarks.

Appearing for the first time on Chattermarks are Kali Ortiz and Kendrick Jackson, who share their experience working with Skagit Land Trust in the removal of invasive species near Little Mountain in Mt. Vernon, Washington. 

Youth Leadership Ambassador: Kali Ortiz

“In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.” John Muir

This quote speaks a lot to me, not only because it is true, but because I encountered the exact feeling on our first trip as the Youth Leadership Ambassadors.

Youth Leadership Ambassadors (left to right): Kali, Celeste, Maria, Lorena. Photo by Kali Ortiz

On our first trip as Ambassadors, we went to Little Mountain in Mt.Vernon, knowing only that we were going to remove the invasive species attacking our ecosystem. English Ivy aggressively attaches on the trees and blocks the sunlight, impeding photosynthesis– thereby hurting and potentially killing our trees.

Mia showing us how to use the Nature’s Calling Kit. Photo by Kali Ortiz

From ripping ivy off the tree trunk, to Joe cutting down a colossal bush of holly, our group had finally got to work together and create memories. Our last challenge of the day was taking on a steep and grueling hike. Though this was a difficult task, we all stayed together and made sure we all finished together – even if we had to nearly bear crawl.

» Continue reading Youth Leadership Ambassador Trip Report: Little Mountain

Youth Leadership Ambassadors: A Pathway For Youth

January 6th, 2017 | Posted by in Institute News

This last August I was grateful to fill a newly created position at the North Cascades Institute, that of College Access Coordinator. The position was specifically created to support and strengthen opportunities for participants of our Youth Leadership Adventures and Mountain School programs. The AmeriCorps position is made possible by the Washington Campus Compact “College Access Corps” grant. This grant is funded by the Corporation for National and Community Service, and supports local economically disadvantaged youth to become more academically engaged in their education, increase preparedness for post-secondary education, and become more knowledgeable about the college application and financial aid process.

The grant allows selected college campuses, nonprofits (the North Cascades Institute!), or grade 4-12 educational institutions to place an AmeriCorps member (me!) to help coordinate college access programs in their local communities. While I have been graciously accepted into the closely knit Institute community, I have had the opportunity to serve on the planning committee of the Northwest Youth Leadership Summit, present a workshop at said conference (“College: Planning For What’s Next & What To Do Now), volunteer at the Migrant Youth Leadership Conference, attend multiple Kulshan Creek field trips, and participate in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) committee meetings.

While all of these opportunities stand out in my mind as highlights of my first five months in this position, getting a new program extension off the ground and running has been the most fulfilling and rewarding aspect of my work. The Youth Leadership Ambassadors program is an extension of our Youth Leadership Adventures summer program. The goal of the program is to further develop leadership and outdoor skills, facilitate service and stewardship in our local communities and ecosystems, and provide college preparedness support to high school students from Skagit and Whatcom County.

While serving as Ambassadors, students will participate in work parties, attend field trips, and receive 15 hours of college access curriculum. Our first field trip of the year is in collaboration with Skagit Land Trust to remove invasive species on Mt. Vernon’s Little Mountain. Examples of some of the other scheduled field trips include visits to local community colleges and universities, trips sponsored by National Park Service Park Rangers, and an overnight trip to our Environmental Learning Center for a stewardship weekend.

14 local Skagit and Whatcom County high school students have been selected to participate in this pilot school year opportunity. The students attend 8 different high schools including Burlington-Edison, Mount Vernon, Concrete, Mount Baker, Bellingham, Sehome, Lynden, and Meridian.

Having never previously worked with youth in an environmental education setting previously, I am looking forward to collaborating with Institute staff to help facilitate Ambassador events. Additionally, I am eager to share my background in college access work with students, many of whom aim to be the first in their family to attend college.

» Continue reading Youth Leadership Ambassadors: A Pathway For Youth

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2016 Northwest Youth Leadership Summit: Leaders In Action

November 20th, 2016 | Posted by in Institute News

Fun activities. Good food. Hands-on learning. Passionate discussion. A surprise visit from Sally Jewell. The newly-named Northwest Youth Leadership Summit included all of this, and more.

This conference, now in its seventh year, is for young adults in the Pacific Northwest who have participated in at least one outdoor program and want to stay involved. This year brought a new name, length, and location: 200 people – students and adults – gathered at The Mountaineers in Seattle on October 22, 2016 for a day of making connections, learning new skills, and having fun. Students arrived representing over 15 organizations and came from hometowns all over western Washington and northern Oregon.

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Students gathered in Summit Groups to discuss goals for the day. Photo by Jodi Broughton

The change from a smaller, three-day event at the Environmental Learning Center to a larger, one-day event in Seattle was a collaborative effort with The Mountaineers, the National Park Service, Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, and the North Cascades Institute to make broader connections between students in outdoor organizations across the Northwest. Hosting the summit in a more central location for a shorter time frame enabled many more students to participate.

The day was packed full with activities. After breakfast and a welcome from student emcees Thien and Logan, the students met in small Summit Groups to discuss their goals and plans for the Summit. Two Breakout Sessions – hour-long workshops on various topics– were held before lunch. Students learned basic rock climbing skills, received tips on writing resumes, and delved into complex climate issues. One student wrote, “[The supportive leader session] was the most valuable because I got to explore more formally what it means to be a servant leader. I identified myself as a servant leader, as well as found truth in my new formed opinion that a leader is not a good one unless they are a servant leader.” Another student appreciated some of the skills emphasized in the Breakout Sessions: “The resume session was the most valuable [to me] because I am beginning to think about college, so I will take any tips I can when it comes to applications and interviews.”

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Students learn the basics of rock climbing during a Breakout Session. Photo by Jodi Broughton
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Outside activities during a Breakout Session. Photo by Michael Telstad

» Continue reading 2016 Northwest Youth Leadership Summit: Leaders In Action