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.
Joe chopping down a tree-sized holly plant. Photo by Kali Ortiz
Amy cutting off some holly. Photo by Kali Ortiz
Though it was unexpected, we all laughed, complained and were in pain together. We all hoped to clean our environment and while doing physical labor, we all connected. Without knowing, nature brought us closer as friends and made us ecstatic for our future field trips!
Youth Leadership Ambassador: Kendrick Jackson
Being selected as a Youth Leadership Ambassador was quite an exciting thing for me because I love to try new things and this seemed like a perfect opportunity to do just that. There are high school students from across the Pacific Northwest of all backgrounds that are a part of the program. Plus, “environmental stewardship” seems like a fancy term so where is the downside?
Field trips always sound like an adventure. Our first trip was January 21st and I was ready! That day we took our first step in helping out our ecosystem by ripping out ivy from the ground.
English Ivy isn’t native to the Pacific Northwest and drains nutrients from trees. English Ivy is all around the trail and we had a lot of opportunity to remove the 3-5 lobed, darker green plant. We also hiked Little Mountain, a trail south of Mount Vernon.
English Ivy. Photo by Kendrick Jackson
A challenging but short hike followed and the view at the top of Little Mountain that day was beautiful. At the top, we enjoyed each other’s presences and did some college prep talk.
The view on the top of Little Mountain. Photo by Kendrick Jackson
Overall, this Saturday was beneficial to me. I enjoyed meeting these people and loved learning something new about our beautiful region of the PNW. A great way to start a great program! Thank you Taylor, Amy, Lisa, and Hannah for accompanying and teaching all of us Ambassadors!
About Kali Ortiz
My name is Kali Ortiz and I am seventeen years old. Growing up in the Pacific Northwest, I’ve always had an appreciation toward nature. My love of photography has expanded to nature and allows me to show creativity. My first time in the North Cascades was when I was in 5th grade at Mountain School. Since then, my love of nature has only increased. I have five siblings and we have bonded through hiking, kayaking, and exploring. While volunteering with Kulshan Creek, the opportunity arose for me to apply for the Youth Leadership Ambassador program. I applied that evening. I cannot express all the gratitude I have for this program and for all the leaders involved.
About Kendrick Jackson
Youth Leadership Ambassador Kendrick Jackson on left. Photo by Kendrick Jackson
Hey everybody, this is Kendrick! A quick introduction about myself, I love going to Starbucks and I scroll through Instagram or Snapchat when I am not at school or at work. Seem like a rugged outdoorsy guy to you? You’re right! No not really, meaning I have a lot of…opportunity to learn about the Pacific Northwest and the nature in it.
Title photo of Youth Leadership Ambassadors at the top of Little Mountain. Photo by Kali Ortiz