Youth Ambassadors Trip Report: Old Growth Forest and Salmon

The Youth Leadership Ambassadors program is an extension of our Youth Leadership Adventures summer program. The goal of the program is to further develop leadership and outdoor skills, facilitate service and stewardship in our local communities and ecosystems, and provide college preparedness support to high school students from Skagit and Whatcom County. While serving as Ambassadors, students will participate in work parties, attend field trip and receive 15 hours of college access curriculum.

Appearing for the first time on Chattermarks is Youth Ambassador Stepheny Lopez, a student at Mount Vernon High School. In this post she shares her experience of learning about old growth forest at Rockport State Park and eagle watching in Marblemount. Enjoy! 

On the early morning of January 6, 2018, nine dedicated North Cascade Institute Ambassadors attended their first Youth Ambassadors field trip of the year. Ellie and Amy, our group’s mentors, took us eagle watching in Marblemount. Many of us in the group were given the opportunity to try and learn new things; we also gained awareness about job and career opportunities that can help our success, and inform others about our environment.

Ellie Price posing as an eagle at Rockport State Park; artwork by Don Smith

Our first stop was to Rockport State Park, thirty minutes east on Highway 20 from the North Cascade Visitor Center in Sedro-Woolley, Washington. While at Rockport, the first thing we did was gear up with warm clothing. For many of us, we did not know how much clothing to wear, due to it being our first time hiking in cold weather, but it was all definitely worth the experience. Emily Jankowski then joined us during our arrival to help chaperone the field trip. She is an AmeriCorps volunteer from Skagit Fisheries Enhancement Group. Then Rockport State Park’s Interpretive Specialist, Amos Almy, guided us on a half-mile walk around the park, and informed us of the area’s natural history throughout our time on the trail.

How many Youth Ambassadors does it take to measure the circumference of a 500-year-old Western red cedar?

We learned that Rockport used to have a campground, but was shut down due to the danger of trees carrying a fungus falling down. Rockport is 640 acres that has never been logged. Throughout the trail, Amos talked about salmon, teaching us that nitrogen is its signature nutrient. Scientists discovered trees that are in close contact with the river also carry nitrogen from the salmon.

Our second stop of the field trip was the Skagit Bald Eagle Interpretive Center. There we learned eagle facts and saw real, stuffed eagles! An adult and juvenile eagle.

Youth Ambassadors at the Skagit Bald Eagle Interpretive Center

From there we attended a fish hatchery tour at Marblemount. When we first arrived, we were very fortunate to see eagles. During the tour we learned about the process of hatcheries and their main purpose. For example, fish hatcheries were created to help increase wild populations in the river, oceans, and lakes.  

View of the Marblemount Fish Hatchery

As a group we got to see a real life, frozen king salmon and even got to hold it! In Washington state there are five types of salmon, coho, pink, king, chum, sockeye, chinook, and also steelhead trout. The fisheries biologist taught us about fish facts and information. We also got the opportunity to witness the viewing of 55-day-old baby fish hatching from their egg.

All 11 of us, including our amazing mentors, had such a blast and it was an informative trip! The trip not only brought powerful leaders together, it also gave us the opportunity to witness many future career ideas.

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