Introducing Rebecca Detrich, our next Executive Director!

We are excited to announce that Rebecca (Bec) Detrich has been selected as our next Executive Director! Our board of directors and staff hiring team chose her because of her leadership experience and deep knowledge of Residential Environmental Learning Centers, experience working successfully with federal and state partners, and her career-long emphasis on community engagement and inclusion.

Bec Detrich most recently served as the Executive Director for Trips for Kids Marin in San Rafeal, CA, where she led a culturally-diverse 26-person staff spread across multiple sites. She has also worked as Director of Education/School Programs at Westminster Woods in Occidental, CA; Adjunct Graduate Instructor for the Global Field Program at Miami University, and Field Science Education Manager for NatureBridge at the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, CA. Bec received a BA in Environmental Science from Willamette University, a MA in Biology from Miami University and MBA from Sonoma State University.

We believe that North Cascades Institute’s vision, mission and programs will be needed more than ever in the years ahead, and that Bec is the right person for the future of our organization. She is an educational visionary, entrepreneurial fundraiser and an organizational leader. Bec brings a whole-hearted approach to work and strives to create a sense of kinship, belonging, and stewardship that encourages all to care for and protect this special place. She shares our strong commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion, and passion for the North Cascades.

Here’s a bit more about our new executive director from Bec herself:

Q: Where were you born and raised?

A: I was born in Wisconsin but moved to Colorado when I was two. We lived in Colorado in early elementary school, then moved to Ventura, California where I lived through high school. College took me to Oregon; after graduation I lived and worked in California, East Coast, Australia, then back to California.

Q: What early experiences in the outdoors “hooked you” to be a lover of nature?

A: Like many small kids, I was always fascinated by animals and felt connected to the outdoors. In second grade, my science fair project was related to understanding how cats’ eyes worked. In fourth grade, I tried to interpret humpback whale songs. In Colorado we would spend time in the mountains and I would spend hours down by the creek building sand houses for turtles or catching snails. My mom was very upset one day when I returned home with a Tupperware full of aquatic snails- not because of the snails but because I poked holes in the lid so the snails could breath (thereby ruining her Tupperware)!

Q: What were your early steps pursuing a career in outdoor education and conservation work?

A: I started with a focus on wildlife ecology. As an undergrad, I spent time studying African bull elephants in Tanzania. My senior thesis was on the reintroduction of wolves (at the time it was in the early stages and very controversial). I actually applied to study grizzlies in Alaska after graduating but was turned down because I was a woman and there was no housing for women…. (that is a story in itself).

Needing a job after graduating, a friend convinced me to apply for a job in environmental education. After a summer doing ornithology work, I ended up getting that EE job and reluctantly went. I was very surprised that I LOVED the work- it was engaging science, which I loved, but with other people. There was community! It was joyful, full of play and exploration and it was wonderful to introduce so many kids to the natural world.

Q: What have been your most recent experiences in the field of environmental education?

Trips for Kids Marin is a mountain bike based program that works with kids who have been historically marginalized from cycling and, unfortunately, often from outdoor spaces. We used the bicycle as a tool to help connect kids to the natural world, build self esteem, and build healthy lifestyles. While we didn’t get to dive into ecology or science, it was an important first step in getting kids out into the amazing open spaces in their community.


Bec will begin working part-time remotely at the beginning of May and transition to full-time on June 1st. Bec and Saul look forward to a smooth, two-month transition engaging with staff, board, partners, donors and other stakeholders, before Saul’s retirement on June 30.


  1. Paula Berg

    Welcome Bec! I look forward to getting to know you and work with you.

  2. Catherine L Endicott

    Bec, we can’t wait to have you on board, welcome!

  3. Melissa Johnson

    I am thrilled to see the choice for Executive Director. I grew up in the Bay Area (born in San Rafael), and was also involved with environmental education. While I haven’t been able to attend a class from the NCI in several years, I have always been impressed with your philosophy and your staff. I feel confident these things will continue with Beca. And, just as another thought to share: When I was a kid, I dug holes in the backyard, put water in them with various plant decorations, and found amphibious occupants for my Frog Hotels. Ribbet! 🙂
    Good Luck to All,

  4. Eric Burr

    Welcome to NCI ! I’ve taken many courses on both sides of NOCA and worked with Saul as a back-country ranger in 1979. Currently I’m retired with my Swiss wife near Lost River 5 miles above Mazama. We’ve taught cross-country skiing for years, but I moved to NOCA to guide helicopter skiers, back in 1983. Biden-Harris may finally let the USFS reopen the Early Winters RS, which might work as a base for NCI courses. They may also let Shuksan Conservancy expand NOCA’s reach as a “North Cascades National Preserve” up to our passes, which badly need the NPS’s better budgets. They can be reached at CREATING WILDERNESS: A Transnational History of the Swiss National Park by Patrick Kupper shows many parallels to NOCA, of course including our physical similarities.

  5. Shannon Wright

    Welcome, Bec! When the dust settles, please reach out. I and the ED at RE Sources and we collaborate with NCI. I grew up in Marin, so we have several points of connection. — Shannon

  6. Matt Kraska

    Welcome to the Institute and the North Cascades community, Bec! I’m absolutely thrilled to know what experience, passions, and values you’ll bring to the work. The community is lucky to have you! 👍👍

  7. Imara White

    Welcome Bec! NCI is so excited to greet you and I’m sure you’ll find your home in these amazing mountains and valleys. I cant wait to meet you in person!

  8. Chuck Robinson

    Welcome Bec. I look forward to meeting you soon.

  9. Sheila Denton

    Greetings from California! This is just wonderful. Congratulations.

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