Leaving the Learning Center: A graduate student reflects back

Lily the black bear and her two cubs stop by for a visit. They’re seen almost every day! Photo by John Harter

The summer has been whizzing by at the North Cascades Environmental Learning Center! Families, children, adults, and black bears alike have been visiting and lounging amongst the Douglas firs and huckleberry bushes here on Diablo Lake. Most of the graduate M.Ed. students are out in the woods with high schoolers on their final North Cascades Wild and Cascades Climate Challenge trips, but a few have been holding down the fort. Elizabeth Penhollow has been changing lives through the Kulshan Creek Program, Stephanie Bennett and Nick Mikula have been immersed in interning for North Cascades National Park, and I have been working the Institute’s summer programs. It has been a fulfilling and busy summer for sure!

Water and sunlight create a beautiful summer rainbow over Diablo Lake. Photo by Stephanie Pate

Stephanie and Hannah orienting participants at the Memorial Day Family Getaway. photo: NCI

Summer canoe training with graduate student Stephanie Pate and Matt Chapman the education intern. Photo by Stephanie Pate.

Stephanie and her new friend at the August Family Getaway, one of the great programs! Photo Stephanie Pate.
Myself and all of cohort 10 are enjoying their summer. Sadly though, our residency is at a close, and it’s that time of year for the departure back to “civilization” as a new group of grads to begin their special time up in the mountains. This very real life example of the ever-changing cycle of life is bittersweet for some. Quiet mountain moments, hikes through the forests, laughing on the lake, and other great memories are abundant. I don’t want to leave this landscape that has been called home for a year but yet I am excited for the opportunities and adventures that await in Bellingham and beyond. Classes, buses, street lamps and new friends will fill my senses instead of the smells, sights, and sounds of the mountains. A new chapter is beginning, and yet one thing is for certain, whether a graduate student, staff member, or a visitor, this place is beautiful and holds a special place in our hearts.

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