Past Residency Students
Megan Addison, cohort 7
"I couldn't ask for a better way to make a difference. I know my time at NCI gave me the skills and confidence necessary to succeed in my role..."
What does it mean to be an environmental educator? If someone had told me this would be my career path in high school I probably would have laughed. Yes, I loved to hike, ski, explore beaches, and in general be outside but what impact would I possibly have on the world being an environmental educator? Obviously since my teenage years my mentality has changed.
After dabbling in the public school system for a few years as a substitute teacher and reading tutor, I realized that for me to have the most impact on my students I needed to be passionate about my subject. I wondered how to find this passion and started teaching at an environmental education center, a seasonally employed educator. I quickly realized this is what motivates me - getting students out of the classroom and giving them hands-on experiences they will remember.
Perhaps this comes from finding a new critter on the beach, or from looking out at a spectacular view and figuring out how it all happened. Or perhaps it is the simple act of being out of doors, using all the senses, and overcoming obstacles. This realization led me to the North Cascades Institute graduate program, where I was able to utilize my passion for teaching and experience other aspects of environmental education - program coordination, curriculum development and implementation, gaining an understanding of how non-profits work, and truly participating in experiential education.
Since graduating, I have utilized the skills I developed and enhanced throughout my residency. I now work for an environmental education organization - Sound Experience - which uses a tall ship, the schooner Adventuress, as a platform for teaching about Puget Sound and the environment. I have the opportunity to coordinate and develop programs, enhance and implement curriculum, and give people the opportunity to truly experience and learn from the environment. I couldn't ask for a better way to make a difference. I know my time at NCI gave me the skills and confidence necessary to succeed in my role, and I continue to have opportunities to 'save the world', one small step at a time.
Jenny Cloutier, cohort 6"It is very difficult to quantify the incredible value to one's education as a naturalist and educator of having towering glacier harboring peaks, gigantic Red Alder and Calypso orchids just out the back door."
Have you heard of “Last Child in the Woods”? I feel as if the experience of a free roaming childhood in the woods of Montana is what Richard Louv was reflecting upon. Some of my earliest memories are of a posse of friends running from fort to fort through the forest beside Montana’s Flathead Lake. Cap-gun six-shooters in my holsters, cowgirl boots on my feet, and a life jacket I seldom removed from my back, I relished the Thimbleberries and mostly avoided the Oregon Grape. At the time I had no idea that this was the beginning of my training as a naturalist. The love of the land that was instilled in those formative years set me on a path to learn as much as I could about the natural world. After my time as an undergraduate at the University of Montana, I spent three years as a Montessori teacher, and then worked as a naturalist for the Glacier Institute, and as an instructor and guide for the Big Mountain. The seasonal lifestyle left me wanting more stability. Watching many of my co-workers leave the non-profit community to find more gainful employment made me wonder how I could help these vital organizations succeed. A mentor of mine explained that I needed to find a graduate program. I had the good fortune to discover WWU and NCI on the web.
While in the program I was able to write Geology curriculum, learn copious amounts from the North Cascades Institute on the ins and outs of fundraising, and I had the priceless experience of living in a national park. It is very difficult to quantify the incredible value to ones education as a naturalist and educator of having towering glacier harboring peaks, gigantic Red Alder and Calypso orchids just out the back door.
Returning to Montana after the program has helped me realize just how much knowledge I absorbed during graduate school. I believe I always had a sense of place. I just never knew what to call it before my time with WWU and NCI. In addition, the skills I learned while in this grad program prepared me in so many ways to return to my beloved Montana and set out on the mission to preserve open space in this great state. Today I find myself with the great honor of working as a fundraiser and event coordinator for The Montana Land Reliance, a land trust that has worked with private landowners to put conservation easements on over 830,000 acres in Montana. I am certain I would not have this opportunity if it were not for the experience and knowledge I gained in the North Cascades.
Kate Bedient, cohort 5
My road to becoming an environmental educator began as a geology major at Vassar College in the Hudson Valley of New York State. I knew early in my studies that I got the most out of my classes when I was outside, learning about the landscapes that surrounded me. After a summer as an Interpretive Park Ranger at Wind Cave National Park in the Black Hills, I shifted my focus from field science to science education. I preferred sharing my love of science to spending hours alone in a lab
Years past, I moved west, worked at the Pacific Science Center, taught many grade levels a variety of science concepts, explored the wonders of Washington, and took a NOLS Leadership Course. Finally, an NCI catalog appeared in my mailbox and I immediately applied to the graduate program affiliated with Western Washington University.
The two years I spent in the NCI/WWU grad program were some of the best of my career. Not only did I gain innumerable skills as an educator, a leader, a naturalist, and a fundraiser, but I also made many professional connections that I continue to value to this day. There is truly nothing like living in the same place where you work; working in the same place where you attend school; and attending school in the midst of 600,000 acres of wilderness. The PLACE and the EXPERIENCE have shaped me forever.
Today, I am the Education Specialist at Homewaters Project in Seattle. I manage two programs that strive to extend the learning for students from their classroom science units into the community and environment around them. I work closely with teachers and district leaders to provide programs that are both meaningful and easy to implement. Through education, I have the opportunity to inspire learners both young and old to slow down and take a more meaningful look at the world around them. My experience with North Cascades Institute has prepared me for the work I do and will influence whatever experiences the future has to offer.
"There is truly nothing like living in the same place where you work; working in the same place where you attend school; and attending school in the midst of 600,000 acres of wilderness."
Adam Lorio, cohort 4
Growing up in Colorado, I was lucky to live in a place with a family who valued outdoor experiences. While completing my B.A. in Biology at Whittier College in 1995, I began to focus on the disconnection between our science communities and the general public. Until I enrolled in the M.Ed program with Huxley and North Cascades Institute (NCI), I had been applying my degree to jobs in everything from Whale Watching Naturalist to Veterinary Technician in the Pacific Northwest.
My goal for the residency program was to take my diverse background and get the skills I need to apply it to a career level position in environmental education. My leadership project was coordinating the move of Mountain School in fall 2005 from the Newhalem Campground to NCI’s Environmental Learning Center.
Since graduating, I have been working as an Interpretive Specialist for Washington State Parks at Deception Pass. I am currently focusing on developing programs to further connect our visitors to our critical public lands. My favorite project is working to restore Rosario Beach, a highly sensitive, highly impacted rocky intertidal zone using education as the primary restoration tool. This project is taking the best science and education techniques to achieve a tangible environmental restoration result.
"This experience was just what I was looking for. The emphasis on immersion in a professional community with practical experience is what I am most confident will lead me where I want to go."
Brad Tuininga, cohort 3
I was born and raised in Washington State. Having volunteered for a nonprofit public health organization on numerous occasions in Latin America, I decided to pursue my interest in the nonprofit world and environmental education through the WWU/NCI Residency program with a certification in Nonprofit Leadership and Administration. Previously, I received my B.A. in Environmental Studies from Western Washington University.
During my time in the program I developed the WWU/NCI Winter Transition Course to help students in the transition from University to Residency studies. I also served as an assistant to John Miles during the Graduate Summer Block Program. My capstone project was titled: Touching the Wild: Wilderness Education in Place-based Environmental Education.
I currently work as the Program Director for an upstart nonprofit, a direct result of my residency nonprofit project: Alliance for Wilderness Education and Stewardship. With 7 board members supporting me, I wear many hats. From programming to accounting, budgeting, partnership development, fundraising and organizational development, the position is dynamic and challenging. The Alliance works to restore and preserve Wilderness lands through hands-on stewardship projects and education while also unifying the Wilderness community.
“The graduate program offered me the opportunity to cultivate relationships with a breadth of individuals who later became board members, mentors and advisors. I have found few programs offering the flexibility and support to focus on an individual’s area of interest and passion.”
Lee Whitford, cohort 2
I've lived in Bellingham, WA for 18 years, I was a returning student and through this program I pulled together my varied experiences from the last 25 years. I was able apply my teaching experiences, mycology, geology, botany and love of the North Cascades into a full graduate experience. I was part of migratory bird research project with the Park Service, taught Mountain School, worked with adult programs pre-trip preparations and as an assistant, got marketing, fund raising and nonprofit experience that helped me in the job search process.
I'm currently working for North Cascades Institute as Naturalist. I'm responsible for recruiting Puget Sound area schools for Mountain School, Institute outreach, teaching at Family Getaway programs, training interns and graduate students, educational outreach and any other fun thing that crosses my desk.
Lisa Moore, cohort 1
I participated in the residency graduate program the first year it was offered and have since considered it to be one of my most valuable professional experiences. As a graduate student I participated in nearly every aspect of non profit administration.
I am currently working with the Montana Natural History Center in Missoula, Montana as the Youth Programs Coordinator. I am responsible for the oversight of our school-based and summer youth programs as well as curriculum development for all youth programming. I teach in the schools, at our center, and in the field, supervise and train volunteers, interns and program staff, evaluate program success, develop program budgets, plan teacher workshops, plan and coordinate a full plate of summer camps, and help with all other aspects of a busy non profit. In March of 2006 I received the Educator of the Year award from the Montana Environmental Education Association and I truly owe much of my success to my mentors and teachers!My graduate experience prepared me the obvious demands of my chosen career but also for the unexpected. I have applied my experiences in emergency and safety planning, fundraising, marketing, program and curriculum development, and staff training. Participating in NCI programs gave me insight into new design ideas and I’ve since restructured our Visiting Naturalist field trips to model the successful Skagit Watershed Education Project field trip structure! Working with the WWU faculty and the NCI staff has truly prepared me to be a better educator and an even stronger professional.