Sharing our place

instructor exchange diablo dam
After finishing our first week of classes following winter break, the graduate students and staff at the North Cascades Institute had a fun and busy weekend, hosting instructors and staff from two other environmental education centers. The 4th Annual Instructor Exchange included IslandWood, Wilderness Awareness School and North Cascades Institute.
When everyone had arrived on Saturday, graduate students led a tour of our LEED certified buildings, giving the visiting students a chance to compare our classrooms, lodges and living spaces with their own. A social hour before dinner gave everyone time to start getting to know each other. Following dinner, we gave an introduction to our programs by sharing the Parks Climate Challenge video. Later, our Program Director, Laura Busby, shared more information about our adult and family programs, summer youth programs, and a little bit about Mountain School and the graduate program. We ended the evening with a trivia game, designed to test participants’ knowledge of the natural history of the region, as well as test their skills as environmental educators. Some of the challenges included identifying quotes from well known environmentalists, writing mission statements for ridiculous non-profits and composing and performing a new campfire song.

instructor exchange trivia songOne trivia team leading the rest of the group in their new campfire song

We were lucky to have a surprisingly sunny weekend, despite the forecasted 100% chance of rain. The weather was perfect for sharing our place. Sunday started with an each-one-teach-one style presentation of Mountain School – each group learned a few facts about the program and taught them to other groups as they passed on the trail. By the end, each group had taught all of the other groups in this variation of an activity we do with Mountain School students. A walk to the Diablo Dam was a great time to share information about our partnership with Seattle City Light. In the afternoon the group spilt up to go on a variety of hikes including the Diablo East trail to Ross Dam, the Buster Brown overlook and Pyramid Lake. A campfire to close the night was a great opportunity to learn new songs and see new skits.
Before everyone left for home, we had a chance to introduce our visitors to our North Cascades Institute tradition of birthday swims in glacially fed Diablo Lake.
At North Cascades Institute, we are looking forward to traveling to visit Wilderness Awareness School and IslandWood next month to learn more about their programs and experience their places.

Photos courtesy of Kelsi Franzen.


  1. Christian

    Thanks for sharing this — it was neat to read about the weekend from the perspective of your visitors too:

  2. Tyanne

    Geez, that’s unbleieavble. Kudos and such.

Leave a Comment