NC Wild plants the seeds of spring

With the season of fresh beginnings overtaking the physical landscape of the Skagit Valley and North Cascades, the mindsets of those apart of this year’s North Cascades Wild program from North Cascades Institute, North Cascades National Park and the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest are brimming with excitement for a season of new life, new experiences.
North Cascades Wild‘s first of three spring day trips, held on several Saturdays throughout April and May for Skagit and Whatcom county-selected participants, commenced on April 17th at the North Cascades National Park Ranger Station off Highway 20 in Marblemount. Eleven students, representing towns within Whatcom and Skagit counties, joined North Cascades National Park’s Volunteer and Youth Programs Coordinator, Mike Brondi, native Nursery Manager, Cheryl Cunningham, and Institute instructors Amy Brown, Kelsi Franzen, Martine Mariott and Rebecca Ryan, for a day of connecting to their place and each other through learning and service.

(Title) The North Cascades Wild crew goes “wild” for wetland grasses at the nursery (Above) Karla, a NC Wild participant, examines plants in the greenhouse

After some initial icebreakers, students were given a tour of the Ranger Station’s native nursery by Cheryl and Mike, who shared great enthusiasm and knowledge on the variety of plants propagated for restoration uses within the park. Both made note of the hard work done by North Cascades Wild participants from years past in the collection of seeds for wetland grasses—grasses that these new students were going to take to the next level of preparation and maintenance.

Mike Brondi stirs the compost in the worm bin as students curiously observe
Cheryl Cunningham orients the students to the plant varieties in the greenhouse

A variety of stations were set up in order to give North Cascades Wild students a detailed introduction to one step in the restoration process of native wetland grasses in the park. From pot washing and cleaning, to soil shoveling, to dividing up the larger grass bunches into smaller sections and re-potting them, the students took great pride in continuing the legacy that participants two years before them had started with these same grasses. Cheryl and Mike explained that this summer, when the students embark on their core 12-day canoe and backpacking wilderness expedition in the North Cascades, they will be given a chance to plant these grasses in an effort to restore the Ross Lake watershed.

Joey and Jelisa divide grasses into smaller sections for re-potting
Students experienced some natural history along with their service work
Janae and Defilia transport the newly re-potted grasses to a new nursery location

Concluding the afternoon, students and instructors gathered inside the greenhouse of the nursery to share highlights of the day’s learning and service. An overall sense of accomplishment, as well as a newly fostered excitement for the spring day trips and summer expeditions, encompassed the group.

Participants are all smiles as they take pride in their afternoon’s work

With spring comes new growth, and in only one afternoon the first spring day trip of the 2010 North Cascades Wild season displayed the beauty of new growth in the forms of knowledge and friendships, surely spanning beyond this season.

Photos courtesy of Kelsi Franzen.

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