Photo by Deven Vilar

Mountain School in the Skagit Valley Herald

We were thrilled to read this article on the growing number of environmental education programs for students in the Skagit Valley in last Sunday's Skagit Valley Herald, including a profile of Mountain School and our efforts to reach more local young people with transformative experiences outdoors. We were also pleased to see that two of the environmental education leaders that are interviewed for the story are alumni of our Graduate M.Ed. program!

Area environmental education programs grow
By Kimberly Cauvel

Environmental education programs that take Skagit County students to areas from the North Cascades to pebble beaches of the Salish Sea are growing, with some programs being started and some existing programs expanding.

“It is so exciting to see more of an emphasis on environmental education in the Skagit Valley,” Skagit Watershed Council Community Engagement Coordinator Andrea Reiter said.

With the Skagit River watershed being the largest in Puget Sound, Reiter said it’s important for area youths to know about the natural resources and how to preserve and protect them.

The council, in partnership with the Skagit Education, Communication and Outreach Network (Skagit ECONet), published a comprehensive list of programs available for K-12 students in the Skagit County area in 2017.

A local student teaches classmates and parent chaperone about a lichen he’s discovered during a “Each One Teach One” lesson in the woods at the North Cascades Environmental Learning Center. Photo by Kiley Barbero.

Mountain School at Diablo Lake shares the goal of connecting youths with the region’s environment during a three-day, camp-like program involving hiking and other activities in the forest and along the lake.

North Cascades Institute School Programs Manager Codi Hamblin said the addition of Burlington-Edison schools this year brought another 260 students into the North Cascades for the program.

“North Cascades Institute prioritizes local participation in Mountain School and works very hard to get as many Skagit students as possible to be able to participate in the opportunity to learn about the ecology and natural history of their own backyard,” institute Marketing and Communications Manager Christian Martin said.

Throughout the spring, hundreds of students from Anacortes, Burlington-Edison, Concrete, Mount Vernon and Sedro-Woolley elementary schools attended Mountain School.


Mount Vernon’s Washington Elementary School brought the Mountain School season to a close in late May with its three-day, two-night trip.

“These experiences are important because for many students it is their first time in that sort of environment, not only being outside, but also being away from home,” Washington Elementary teacher Carolyn Anderson said. “It is a very worthwhile experience.”

Fidalgo Elementary School teacher Barbara Meaders said she has seen the benefit of local outdoor education programs, from Mountain School in the North Cascades to visits to marine research labs at area beaches.

“From the mountains to the sea our students have such unique opportunities to learn about their world and their place in it,” she said.

Originally published in the Skagit Valley Herald, June 22, 2019. Read entire article here.

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