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WWU / Fairhaven College of Interdiscipinary Studies

Extended Notes: Wendy Walker (79)

from Wendy Walker (79)


I think few life trajectories are clear, curving arcs of intent and accomplishment. Most tend to wobble with the winds of circumstance or perhaps fate. As I look back on the years since Fairhaven, the trajectory of my work and life swerves and loops and even spirals. I'm smiling as I write this. It has been a thrilling ride at times:


Entered Fairhaven with first full class in 1968: Lived in Edens Hall (Note:Was under the impression that Fairhaven was an "honors college". Learned how to learn without grades!) FH Mentors: Bob Keller, Don McLeod, David Mason, Connie Faulkner, Pat Karlberg. Note: Memorable classes: Nez Perce, Death and Dying, The Far Right, What Should We Save, Economics and Crisis, Climbing Class, William O. Douglas Seminar, Graduated in 1972 with BA in Geology. Note: Only woman geology field assistant for National Science Foundation research in Grand Canyon. Lived in bottom of canyon for two months and rafted the Colorado River.


Worked for the U.S. Forest Service as a Wilderness Ranger from 1971-1980 Note: First woman Wilderness Ranger in the Glacier Peak Wilderness: Many stories about the "man's world."


Florida State University for an MA in Religion and Culture, 1974: Thesis: Virginia Woolf: Feminist Visionary Note: Switched academic fields entirely between BA and MA. Worked with English and Religion Departments.


Met and married husband, Carey Bacon: First home was Miners Ridge Lookout in the Glacier Peak Wilderness K-12 Teaching Certificate from WWU, Science Education, 1977 Note: Changed field again.. after deciding not to go to Law School. Decided better to change the world through education than through laws. Still believe this is true, at least for me and my skill set.


Had first child, daughter Erin who ended up a Fairhaven student 19 years later. Note: Parenting is the single most satisfying task of my life thus far. Like a 20 year art project.. helping to sculpt a person.. or helping her sculpt herself? She is now working on a Phd in Applied Drama in England. Married with our first grandchild, Sophia.


Taught 7th and 8th grade Science for Lummi Tribal School 1980-82 Note: Invaluable experience being the minority in a work situation. Hardest job of my life so far. Moved to Stehekin. isolated village on Lake Chelan only accessible by trail, boat or plane. Taught in one-room log cabin school.


Worked as a National Park interpreter in the summers. 1982-84 Note: Learned about my sense of place and how to live slow and deep. Still miss this place. Wrote a published essay about this experience in Impressions of the North Cascades.

Had second child, son, Alden. Note: Now I understand the male experience so much better. I come to think that it might be harder to be born male in our culture than femaleā€¦ a reversal of previous thought. Adult son is now thinking of becoming an international educator.


Taught science for Seattle Public School. 1983-85. Note: First urban experience and chance to teach students of many cultural and racial backgrounds. Humbling, challenging and satisfying. Wrote and produced a Dinosaur Musical starring 10-year old tyrannosauruses and pterodactyls.


Moved to Blaine, Washington for husband's job as school librarian, 1986. Note: Alternating which partner gets to control the life decisions as a couple has made marriage work for us. Kids grow up in Blaine.


Wrote two books about Washington National Forests, articles for magazines. Work as consultant for forest service and park service training interpreters and writing text for exhibits. Consider myself a writer. Still do.


Joined the Whatcom Land Trust Board at Bob Keller's invitation. Enjoy working with Bob, Rand Jack, Gordon Scott, Rod Burton and Chris Moench, all Fairhaven graduates. 1987-Present. Note: This non-profit has preserved over 10,000 acres of land in Whatcom County and is my antidote to environmental despair.


Professor at Huxley College, teaching courses in Environmental Studies and Environmental Education. 1991-Present. Note: Was hired to teach what I had been doing my previous careers. Best Courses: Spring Block: 17 credit field course taught every spring including a wilderness trip. Won WWU Excellence in Teaching Award for 08-09. Felt very good to be honored for the skill of teaching.


Taught internationally, one quarter in Mexico, one in Greece, one in Costa Rica and Fall 2010 in London, UK. Note: Still trying to become fluent in Spanish, which I started at Fairhaven years ago.


2009: Teaching at both Fairhaven College and Huxley College. Note: A bit disconcerting to walk the halls of Fairhaven as a professor rather than a student. The walls have absorbed ghosts...and I hear them murmuring as I pass. Mostly happy memories.


Future: Who knows? Budget cuts at WWU make my job uncertain. The trajectory is still swerving and looping.. I've thought of running for political office or writing a novel or leading sustainable travel tours. Note: Fairhaven gave my young life a major power boost and a wonderfully directionless vector that has lead to surprising places and experiences. I am grateful.


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