Youth Leadership Ambassador Trip Report: Skagit Flats and Padilla Bay

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. Ambassadors will contribute blog posts covering their adventures throughout the year here on Chattermarks.

Appearing for the first time on Chattermarks are Celeste Guzman and Ana Lopez, who share their field trip to the Skagit Flats and Padilla Bay. 

Youth Leadership Ambassador: Celeste Guzman

The Youth Leadership Ambassadors day was filled with birding at the Skagit Flats and checking out Padilla Bay with Park Ranger Jason Bordelon.

The group listening to Park Ranger Jason. Photo by Celeste Guzman

The group started out at the Skagit Flats where Park Ranger Jason taught us some cool birding lingo. For example, “hand me the bennys” actually means, “hand me the binoculars.” With our binoculars we saw many eagles, snow geese and swans.

After our lesson, the group had lunch outside where it was very windy and cold. After we finished our lunch the group drove to the Wiley Slough where we learned about Padilla Bay and how it’s an estuary at the saltwater edge of the large delta of the Skagit River in the Salish Sea. The group then walked down to Padilla Bay so we could check it out for ourselves. We all had time to think alone while others were skipping rocks.

Fellow Youth Leadership Ambassador, Aaron, walking along the shore. Photo by Celeste Guzman

Later in the day, the group came together and we talked about what we had learned and liked about the day. It was fun being outdoors even though it was windy and cold. It was also exciting to grow closer to other ambassadors during this trip.


Youth Leadership Ambassador: Ana Lopez

Our second field trip with the Youth Leadership Ambassadors was on February 11th 2017. We started off at the Skagit Valley Wildlife Reservation where we did some bird watching and saw many eagles. It was amazing! We learned some ways to tell the difference between birds, such as their size, the shape of their wings and the sound they make. After that, we went to Padilla Bay and learned about why they were protecting it. Since it is an estuary, which is surrounded by buildings and roads that can contaminate the water from oil, they decided they would build a place where they can teach others about how they can take care of the environment.

While bird watching we spotted two eagles in their nest! Photo by Ana Lopez

Park Ranger Jason led us around Padilla Bay, where we found a quiet place to ourselves and reflected over the day. Photo by Ana Lopez

Such a beautiful landscape at the Skagit Valley Wildlife Reservation. Photo by Ana Lopez

About Celeste Guzman

I’m Celeste and I was born and raised in the beautiful city of Bellingham. I am 18 years old and will be graduating high school this year and plan to go to college in the fall. I enjoy hanging out with friends, eating, going to church and playing music. I’m constantly learning new things about myself and how I enjoy looking and learning about what nature has to offer.

About Ana Lopez

I’m Ana Lopez and I am 16 years old attending Mount Vernon High School. Some of my hobbies are running, painting, photography and spending time outdoors. I have grown to love it here in the Pacific Northwest. When I was younger I did not spend a lot of time out in nature but volunteering with the Kulshan Creek Neighborhood Youth Program changed my life. I realized how much I loved learning and spending time out in nature alongside others who shared my fascination. I also developed an interest in nature photography where I got to take pictures and look back to the moments where I was filled with happiness.

My freshman year was a time where I was trying to figure out what my interests were. I knew I had to do something that would keep me busy. I then started volunteering with the Kulshan Creek Neighborhood Youth Program.

At first I felt out of place but as I started volunteering on more field trips, I noticed how the students enjoyed learning about the Skagit Valley and it made me excited too.

Kulshan Creek was the reason why I ended up applying to be a Youth Leadership Ambassador. I knew it would allow me to spend more time outside. Being a Youth Leadership Ambassador has helped me think about what I want to do for a career and to be open about new things. When I am with my group, I feel very happy. I know we are all going to make a positive impact in this world. I think I have made the best decision ever on being a part of this group because it is only filled with positivity.

Read more Youth Leadership Ambassador trip reports here

Title photo of Youth Leadership Ambassadors at Padilla Bay. Photo by Celeste Guzman & Ana Lopez 


  1. Amy Brown

    Sounds like a wonderful field trip! Thanks so much to Celeste and Ana for sharing their reflections about the day. And to North Cascades National Park Ranger, Jason Bordelon, for joining the group and teaching everyone about birds in the Skagit watershed!

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