The students that live year-round at the North Cascades Environmental Learning Center, a field campus tucked in the alpine North Cascades National Park, prepare for a Master in Environmental Education. The program focuses on place-based learning and includes field science, cultural studies, teaching, and nonprofit administration. Passionate about the outdoors and the wilderness that they are immersed in, some graduates will move on to lives in outdoor education. Others will take leadership in conservation and nature programs nurturing the next generation of environmental stewards.
I had a great opportunity to spend time with these students during my creative residency at the center. We had in depth conservations about their studies, their fieldwork, and career aspirations on a daily basis. We also spent a day discussing how field studies, scientific inquiry, and artistic talent can be woven together to explore, quantify, and better understand our natural environment. The group eagerly headed out to the wooded lakeshore to collect data, despite the downpour on a cold, soggy day. And they collaborated to produce artful maps based on their field observations.
Animated team discussions, colored pencils, and watercolors turned a gloomy day into “Liquid Sunshine”, a fun, learning time illustrating unique maps. Grounded in field observations each map reflects the curiosity, knowledge, creativity, and sense of humor of the students.