Photo by Jeff Brennan

May 2019 Photo Round Up!

It seems hard to believe, but the end of spring is already here. We are quickly approaching the Summer Solstice and the hot weather is already upon us making the cool breezes and soft rains of April and May seem like a distant memory. Summer is an exciting and busy time in the mountains. The warm weather and long daylight hours beckon with promises of camping, hiking and river trips, lazy nights under brilliant stars, barbecues, and songs around campfires. The snow is receding from the alpine meadows leaving a carpet of lush green, bursting wildflowers and soon, mountain berries. Below the shimmering peaks tourists, locals and seasonal workers are beginning to to fill the roads and trails seeking refuge from the summer heat beneath the cool shade of conifers and beside rushing mountain streams.

Currently, the staff and graduate students at the North Cascades Institute are preparing for another busy summer of programming. In just a few short weeks Conferences and Retreats, Base Camp, Family Getaways and Youth Leadership Adventures will all be in full swing and both students and educators will be fully immersed in learning and exploring the wonders of this fantastic ecosystem. Before we jump head first into the thrills and challenges of summer, let’s take a look back at the past month of fantastic programs and adventures that we’re already having!

May 2019 saw the completion of another amazing Mountain School season! This spring, over 1,500 local students, teachers and chaperones joined us at the Environmental Learning Center for three days of learning and exploring in the heart of the North Cascades Ecosystem. Special thanks to all of our hard working staff and graduate students that made another fantastic season possible. While Mountain School will take a break for the summer, we’ll be back in September ready to introduce another group of brand new 5th graders to their beautiful backyard.

Graduate Student Carson Yach (left) and Mountain School Instructors Addie Irvan (center) and Alexa Brandt (right) preparing for Campfire. Photo by Carson Yach
Mountain School students enjoying some journal time. Photo by Carson Yach
Mountian School students on the beach at Diablo Lake. Photo by Carson Yach
Mountain School students skipping rocks on Diablo Lake. Photo by Carson Yach

While Mountain School is our most well-known youth education program, it’s not the only thing we were up to this spring. Forest School, our brand new program for Bellingham 3rd graders, completed our first successful spring season. This year hundreds of youngsters got their first taste of environmental education in their backyard at the Gordon Carter Conservation Site near Lake Whatcom.

Forest School students peer into a world of adventure.
Forest School students investigate tree rings.
Photo by Kiley Barbero
Photo by Kiley Barbero
Photo by Kiley Barbero
Photo by Jodi Broughton
Photo by Kiley Barbero

Thanks to Codi Hamblin and Abby Sussman for their hard work to get this program off the ground. We will look forward to seeing this program evolve in the years to come!

School Day Programs Coordinator Abby Sussman.

Here at the Environmental Learning Center, we focus so much of our energy on programming and logistics, that its sometimes easy to overlook the incredible contributions by our supporters and partners that make it all possible. But this month we would be remiss to overlook the extra time, energy and funding efforts that were put forth by all of you. During the 2nd weekend in May, we hosted our bi-annual Stewardship Weekend. This year over 50 volunteers plus our Youth Leadership Ambassadors spent the weekend helping to restore native plants and keep our campus Firewise for summer. Thanks to all of the folks that joined us this spring!

NCI Stewardship Weekend. Photo by Photo by Jeff Brennan
Volunteers painting signs during Stewardship Weekend. Photo by Jeff Brennan
Volunteers take a break from work to listen to the Youth Leadership Ambassadors (in blue) share their experiences in the program. Photo by Jeff Brennan
It wasn’t all work! Volunteers taking some much deserved rec time on the Salish Dancer. Photo by Jeff Brennan

While some folks were able to donate time to keeping our campus looking sharp, others came up big financially for our Give Big for Youth fundraising campaign this month. In all, we recieved over 263 donations, including 37 fist time donors. These efforts go a long way to continuing our mission to educate and inspire new generations of environmental stewards. Thanks to everyone who helped out!

Graduate Students and Mountain School Staff getting silly for our Give Big Promotion.

As the last of the snow lingered on the high passes this month, Institute staff and graduate students took some of the last opportunities of the year to get some downhill ski turns in before summer.

Graduate Students Carson Yach and Matt Ferrell with Forest School Instructor Jane Davenport backcountry skiing at Heather Pass.
Summer Program Instructor Kari Paustian with her partner on Washington Pass.

And of course, one of the most exciting spring events in the Pacific Northwest is the annual Ski to Sea race, a multi-sport relay-race that runs from Mt Baker Ski Area to Fairhaven. This year staff and graduates teamed up with a few other friends to form the Desolation Angels. We had a lot of fun skiing, running, cycling and boating our way to a strong finish in this year’s race!

Graduate Student Carson Yach at Ski to Sea. Photo by Matt Ferrell
Cross Country Skiers begin the annual Ski to Sea! Photo by Matt Ferrell
Executive Director Saul Weisberg preparing for the canoe leg.
Outreach and Events Coordinator Deven Vilar promoting our programs near the race’s finish line.
The Desolation Angels Ski to Sea Team.

If all the fun we’re having doesn’t inspire you to come spend some of your summer in the North Cascades the blooming flowers, rushing water, wildlife and breathtaking scenery certainly will. There’s no shortage of things to learn or adventures to have up here this summer, so plan your visit now. Take care and we’ll see you in mountains!

View from SR 20 East near Washington Pass. Photo by Carson Yach
Lucistic Deer. Photograph by Jeff Brennon.
Liberty Bell. Photo by Kari Paustien.
Sourdough Creek Waterfall. Photo by Jeff Brennon.
Mount Baker Sunrise. Photo by Patia Wiebe-Wright
Western Starflower (Trientalis borealis ssp. latifolia) in bloom. Photo by Jeff Brennan
Cutthroat Lake thawing. Photo by Patia Wiebe-Wright
Pair of Northern Alligator Lizards (Elgaria coerulea) playing in the sun. Photo by Jeff Brennan.
Half Moon Rising over the Environmental Learning Center. Photo by Jeff Brennon.
Red-Breasted Sapsucker (Sphyrapicus ruber) on a Cottonwood Tree.
Silver Star. Photo by Patia Wiebe-Wright.
Glacier Lily (Erythronium grandiflorum)
Liverty Bell.
Sunrise at Artist Point. Photo by Patia Wiebe-Wright.

Thanks to everyone who contributed to this month’s round-up. I look forward to seeing more from everyone as we move into summer! For more pictures and updates from North Cascades Institute, follow us on Instagram and check out our Flickr page.

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