First ever North Cascades Wild day trip

NC Wild Day Trip group photo
On Saturday, March 21st, thirteen NC Wild participants joined North Cascades National Park staff members, NCI staff and graduate students for a day of community service projects at the Marblemount Nursery. Our goal for the day was to clean up the nursery beds which were covered with pine needles, small twigs, branches and leaves from a long winter.

The participants gathered early in the morning for a beautiful, spring morning drive up valley. The mountains were finally out after what has felt like weeks of gloom, the sun beamed down on us and blue herons, red-tailed hawks and robins could be seen along the roadside.
Once at the nursery everyone got down to the business of determining who would be going on their trips. For many of us this event signaled the beginning of NC Wild for the season and made us realize that we will soon be out on Ross Lake, canoeing, working on service projects, backpacking, and climbing Desolation Peak. And while I cannot speak for everyone involved I overheard more than one person say, “I can’t wait to get out there.”

Marblemount Nursery signThe Marblemount Nursery

After introductions, NPS staff Michael Brondi, Pat Buller and Cheryl Cunningham showed us around the nursery and green house. While inside of the greenhouse Mike talked about photosynthesis, seed gathering and plant propagation. He also emphasized the care that the park takes when replanting in disturbed areas and how they use seeds and plant starts that were gathered within one mile of the site.

Mike Brondi in the greenhouseMike Brondi teaching NC Wild participants about planting, photosynthesis and native plants.

Finally, it was time to get our hands dirty! Under the direction of Pat, Cheryl and Mike we headed out to the nursery and started cleaning up. This included raking the walkways, moving brush piles and clearing each small pot of pine needles and debris. It was slow work but it gave all of us an opportunity to talk about the upcoming NC Wild trips, learn a bit about one another and just time to think. And this is how we spent the better part of our day, in the nursery, on our hands and knees, carefully brushing pine needles out of small pots so that tiny salal, blueberry, and trailing twin flower could grow.

NC Wild participants workingCarlos, Katie, Mike and Fanny hard at work.

Just before leaving we gathered to reflect on the day and share our thoughts. As we went around the circle comments from individuals included, “I made a difference today,” “I learned how to help the plants,” “I feel more connected with nature,” and “This is hard work!” I think those sentiments say it all. Everyone involved in the service project made a difference, likely went away with a few sore muscles and learned something new about themselves and the plants we worked with.

Special thanks to North Cascades National Park Staff Michael Brondi, Pat Buller and Cheryl Cunningham for sharing the day with us and all of the NC Wild participants who sacrificed their Saturday morning to help out at the Marblemount Nursery.


  1. Carolyn

    This is great! I think it will really add to the kids’ experiences to be able to get to know each other before the big trip, as well as have chances to hang out after that too. Nice work getting this part of the program up and running.

  2. Amy Brown

    Thank you to everyone who participated and helped make this day a success!
    I also want to give special recognition to the students who attended (from Concrete, Burlington-Edison, Mount Vernon and Sedro-Woolley High Schools):
    Esmeralda Martinez
    Mireya Martinez
    Dara Johnson
    Katerina Long
    Jose Ramirez
    Hairo Garcia
    LaMica Briscoe-Ray
    Brenda Brito
    Carlos Palucios
    Bianca Valles
    Maribel Rodriguez
    Fanny Silverio-Gonzalez
    Kassandra Barnedt
    All of these students gave up their Saturdays to do some great service projects, while having fun and learning at the same time. Thank you all!
    Also, I would like to thank especially everyone who helped make this day a success, from the teachers and high school counselors and advisors that helped with recruiting, to Jenny Frederick, Katie Trujillo and Sarah Sutherland, North Cascades Institute graduate students who helped out for the day, to our wonderful friends at North Cascades National Park. Thank you!
    Stay tuned for updates on our next day trip: April 25th at the North Cascades Environmental Learning Center.

  3. Katie

    For all you NCWild rockstars, Sarah has created a Facebook profile called “North Cascades Wild”. This is a great way to spread the word about your commitment to keeping the North Cascades healthy and beautiful! Furthermore, what a great opportunity to network and build great relationships with all those going on the summer trips, as well as participating in the spring day trips, right!?
    I believe Sarah, along with other North Cascades Institute staff will be keeping it updated with pictures and information so it is all up to you to have fun with the chats and comments!
    Looking forward to seeing everyone at the April 25 canoe day trip on Diablo Lake!!!
    -Katie Trujillo

  4. Katerina's friend


  5. Indira Mejia

    These experiences have been really great and super fun! I really wish more kids could go to the trips and learn about nature and life outdoors. I feel sooo lucky to be able to go on these trips and I thank everyone that help to make this posible. I am learning so much each time I go on the trips and I have learned to appreciate nature and all the things around us. Now I know that to go to a really cool and beautiful place, I don’t have to travel very far, Washington is one of the best places to live in!
    I hope to meet more people on the summer trip #1 June 29- June 10, it will be AWSOME! I can’t wait because I know I will learn so much more and I will get to experience new adventures! I am looking forward to seeing everyone who is going and having one of the BEST time of my life! 😉
    -Indira Mejia

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