Field Notes E-News September 2017

Wenatchee River Institute September 2017 Newsletter

Rebecca Ryan's Journey to WRI

When I was a fifth-grade student, Mrs. Griffin had an aquarium full of salmon eggs in our classroom. We watched the salmon through the early stages of their life cycle, and then released them in a local stream. As a junior in high school, Mrs. Gienger arranged multiple field trips for our marine biology class that included whale watching, visiting the rocky intertidal zone, and clamming – all in association with what we were studying in class. Experiences in those classes helped build my interest in science, and when I graduated from high school, I intended to be a science teacher.

Different experiences throughout my time as an undergraduate student continued to shape my ideas of what I wanted to do in the future. I continued to love my classes that included field trips, they helped connect what I read in books and learned in class to the real world. I also realized how much I liked my classes that connected multiple fields of study and human elements to provide different perspectives on issues. The most impactful thing I did though, was spend three summers working as a science camp counselor. That experience opened my eyes to new possibilities. The programs had students out in the natural world for a week: studying and learning about the ecosystem, traveling to new places including National Parks, developing team work skills, and challenging themselves. In addition to loving the type of program we were running, I also had the amazing opportunity to work with environmental educators who worked for the program during the school year. I soaked up the chance to learn from them and their career paths.

I spent the last six years working at NatureBridge in Yosemite National Park as an Environmental Science Educator and then the Assistant Education Manager. Before working for NatureBridge, I was a graduate student through North Cascades Institute and Western Washington University. Through that program, I earned a M.Ed. in Environmental Education and a Certificate in Non-Profit Leadership and Administration as well as gained professional experience in leading environmental education programs.

I am passionate about environmental education and the opportunities it provides for inquiry-based learning, to help students connect to their local environments, and to support students’ social and emotional learning. I continue working in the world of environmental education because it offers opportunities to create connection to place and history. In the current state of our world, I find hope in the opportunities provided to students through environmental education. The first step to protecting the natural environment is connecting to it and beginning to care about it. Our outdoor classroom affords students authentic opportunities to work through challenges and to rely on their classmates to do so. Students learn teamwork and problem solving, as well as how to work with people they don’t usually work with and to consider issues from a variety of perspectives. Environmental education helps provide students with skills to interact with and think critically about the world around them. I am excited and hopeful knowing that students take these skills and experiences with them into their world and life experiences.

 

Fall Fundraiser and Banquet "Born in a Barn" - Guest Speaker Derek Sheffield

 

Derek Sheffield is a professor of English at Wenatchee Valley College.
 
The peom below, Somethign more than Solitude, is by Ali Ferrier.
Ali was a student in the summer 2017 Northwest Nature Writing class at Wenatchee
Valley College. This special learning community taught by Professor Derek Sheffield
and Dr. Dan Stephens combines the study and practice of ecology and writing.

 

 

 

 

Something more than Solitude

Far up the Icicle, I won't tell you where,
is the place where others seldom are.
The path is treacherous but worth the risk.
Only the trained eye knows where on the road
to pull over. The entrance is an arboreal archway
where one disappears behind a living curtain of leaves.
The first obstacle is a boulder perfectly positioned
to keep one from traveling anywhere but over
its hard granite. There is only one path across
this marble-shaped rock, the slightest indentation
along its gray face, lined erratically as a fracture in bone.
One misplaced foot means scrapes or more.
After this crossing, the sheer trail requires balance
and precision. But work for a worthy place
pays in ways only the body can tell.
I sprawl on the huge slab of rectangular rock
that juts from the earth and into the current, far enough
to create a small inlet where the water slowly whorls.
Above the water, one strand of spider silk stretches 
from one branch to the next, catching the sun
like fishing line. The river glistens.
In the shade its grooves flow black as obsidian.
Here I will be. Don’t look for me.
I’ll be back. Maybe.
 
-- Ali Ferrier