Youth Leadership Ambassadors Trip Report: Skagit Valley College

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 and photographs that highlight their adventures throughout the year here on Chattermarks.

Appearing for the first time on Chattermarks are Jonathon Martinez and Tobi Kepper, who share their experience visiting Skagit Valley College in Mt. Vernon. 

Youth Leadership Ambassador: Jonathon Martinez

On March 19, the students of the Youth Leadership Ambassadors program took a trip to Skagit Valley College. This college is a community college located in Mount Vernon. The Youth Leadership Ambassadors were sent to Skagit Valley College so that we could learn more about the school and know that getting into a college is always an option for us.

We specifically went to Skagit Valley College because we are comparing community colleges and state universities to see the differences between them. At the end of April, we will be heading to Western Washington University in Bellingham.

Getting ready to start our adventure at Skagit Valley College! Photo by Tobi Kepper

While being at the college we got to experience new things as a group. We started off by collecting a water sample from a pond located in the school. We used that water for an experiment that determined the amount of phosphorous in the pond. We learned that too much phosphorous causes foam on the water that absorbs oxygen particles, killing any aquatic life nearby. We calculated how much phosphorous was in the water by using a photometer. The photometer measures the light intensity of a solution. To get our measurements, we added tablets to our water samples, allowing the phosphorous to become visible to the photometer.

Our second lab looked at how scientists created models of the land before having phones and computers. We used a special tool and a few pictures of a specific location to get a three-dimensional look of the area, seeing the different elevations there.

In the final lab we looked at the different layers found in soil and determined what material was in each layer based on texture and color.

Testing soil quality. Photo by Tobi Kepper

Once we finished in the lab, we discussed the areas that are important to look at when picking a college. We learned about the quality of Skagit Valley College, the tuition, class size, what each degree is meant for, etc. A few Skagit Valley College students who were either in their first or second year, shared their experience and told us why they enjoyed the school. They explained why it was worth it and how they also had a lot of fun.

Three students share their experience at Skagit Valley College. Photo by Tobi Kepper

This really helped me understand a lot about the college and what students do there. I feel like it is a good school to attend. I learned that there is a program in the school that would help in achieving my dream of becoming a film director. I’m glad I was able to have this experience not only by myself but with my peers.

About Jonathan Martinez

I’m Jonathan A. Martinez, I am 17 years old and was born on October 11th 1999, I have four brothers and three sister, but I only live with two of my brothers and one sister. I also live with my grandparents. I am the oldest of my siblings. My family and I live in Mount Vernon, Washington. I decided to become an ambassador for the Youth Leadership Ambassadors program because I volunteer for the Kulshan Creek Neighborhood Program. This program helps kids learn about the world around them. We take these kids on trips every month outside of our town. Becoming an ambassador helped me become more of a leader and a great helper. I hope to teach the kids in the Kulshan Creek Program to become leaders and helpers for themselves, for others and for the world around them.


Youth Leadership Ambassador: Tobi Kepper 

On the Youth Leadership Ambassadors trip to Skagit Valley College, we conducted some research on a nearby pond and soil. We studied phosphate and chemicals in the water and learned how to use the different equipment researchers need to conduct their experiments.

Testing phosphate levels in local pond water. Photo by Tobi Kepper

Later in the day, we also learned about courses available at Skagit Valley College. We were especially informed about their environmental science courses and what future jobs one could acquire with a degree in that field.

Due to the kindness of those leading us, we were fortunate enough to tour around the campus. The school was beautiful, with a modern appeal. Every part of the school had a piece of art incorporated into it in some way. The living quarters were cute and cozy. Though we couldn’t stay for long, I was convinced it was a nice place to live.

The staff at Skagit Valley College were all very friendly and helpful. I was delighted that I could attend this field trip. This experience has encouraged me to further my education and I hope to one day attend this college and encourage other youth around me. I hope to work with the North Cascades Institute in the future!

About Tobi Kepper

Hi, I’m Tobi! I’m an ambassador here at the Youth Leadership Ambassadors program. I enjoy this program because of the opportunities I get to partake in, especially the ones pertaining to college preparation. In this program, I get to experience a wide variety of places – from fixing trails to visiting college campuses. I am very fortunate to be a part of this important program.

All photos courtesy of Tobi Kepper

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