Mountaineers Foundation: Natural Places, Sustainable Practices

Natural Places, Sustainable Practices

Congratulations to Sound Salmon Solutions and Pacific Shellfish Institute

The 2016 Paul Wiseman Conservation Education grant was divided evenly between two very deserving organizations – Sound Salmon Solutions and Pacific Shellfish Institute. The projects designed by both organizations are an inspiration for all of us dedicated to conservation education in the Salish Sea region.

Sound Salmon Solutions has put together a multi-partner collaboration between their organization, the Everett School District, Forterra and the Green Everett Partnership (GEP). The project will support the existing community forest restoration efforts being implemented in the City of Everett through the GEP by providing Everett high school students with a hands-on restoration design and planning educational experience. Students will complete a year-long project through multiple sessions led by Sound Salmon Solutions in the classroom and on site at an active habitat restoration project. As students work to solve real-world restoration design problems, they will gain valuable experience and skills that will benefit them in future career opportunities.

The Pacific Shellfish Institute is expanding a very successful Garden of the Salish Sea Curriculum, first implemented in Whatcom County, to Thurston County. The Thurston County program will target students in the county’s school districts as well as local youth organizations such as the Boys and Girls Club. The curriculum is a place-based environmental literacy and community stewardship program focused on shellfish, pollution prevention, and ocean acidification in Puget Sound. The whole idea is to provide education that will support improved water quality in Puget Sound and the Salish Sea.

The Institute will also be organizing and Environmental Education Curriculum Fair in partnership with Thurston ECO Network. The fair will provide teachers and other educators an opportunity to learn more about the diverse array of environmental education offerings in south Puget Sound, meet presenters, ask question, and discover programs that would benefit their students.

Congratulations to both organizations.

Meet Lorisa Watkins, Program Services Coordinator

The Mountaineers Foundation is pleased to introduce Lorisa Watkins, our new Program Services Coordinator.

We are growing and working on amazing plans for the Rhododendron Preserve, conservation education, and offering conservation education grants to other local organization with ties to the Salish Sea. We are excited about our future, and Lorisa’s role in helping us develop and deploy new programs and events.

Lorisa Watkins

Lorisa Watkins, Program Services Coordinator

As Program Services Coordinator, Lorisa coordinates activities to assist the Mountaineers Foundation in carrying out conservation stewardship and environmental education within the Rhododendron Preserve.

A native Washingtonian, Lorisa is proud to call the Kitsap Peninsula her home. She feels fortunate to live 5 minutes away from the Rhododendron Preserve, and is very excited to be working in her “neck of the woods”.

Lorisa holds a B.A. in Environmental Planning and Policy with a minor in Environmental Science from Western Washington University, and has over 16 years of experience as a water quality professional. She has worked for the Department of Ecology’s Manchester Environmental Laboratory, Kitsap County Public Works Wastewater Department, and served West Sound Utility District (WSUD) as a laboratory analyst and non-formal public educator.

She has developed education outreach programs for the public, and volunteers for the South Kitsap Schools District as an advisor for Career and Technical Education and for the STEM Program.

Lorisa brings with her a spirit of service and a joy for helping students and community members understand environmental preservation.

She can be reached at or 360-602-2362.

Foundation Touches the Lives of Students Throughout the Region

The Mount Rainier Institute, a partnership between the University of Washington, Mount Rainier National Park, and Washington schools, is run out of the University’s Pack Forest location in Eatonville, Washington. This is the Institute’s second year of operation and the Mountaineers Foundation has been a financial supporter since the beginning.

John Hayes

John Hayes
Mount Rainier Institute Executive Director

The mission of the Mount Rainier Institute is to cultivate the next generation of environmental scientists and leaders by providing outstanding science and nature-based education experiences. Student groups range from 4th grade through high school. Foundation president Nancy Neyenhouse recently met with Institute director John Hayes to see first hand how students are immersed in the outdoors, sometimes for the very first time, and how they are introduced to scientific inquiry and the joy of discovery.

Katherine Jewell

Katherine Jewell

On this particular visit, teacher Katherine Jewell had brought 42 7th and 8th grade students from Washington Middle School in Yakima. Katherine also brought a group of middle schoolers last year. Students spend 4 days at the Institute. Katherine explained that the students “are not the same kids after they left.” One of last year’s participants explained, “I totally want to work outside now. I didn’t even know places like this existed!”

During this visit, student groups presented work they had done on data collection they hoped would support a hypothesis they championed. As each group presented it was fascinating to see how the students used scientific inquiry to try to prove their assumptions. Not always did that work. And what a great lesson that was.

Your support to the Mountaineers Foundation helps us make a huge difference to groups in the Puget Sound region that support conservation education. Your support brings more citizens into the work to keep our region healthy and beautiful. You can make a real difference by giving one of the most important gifts a friend of the Pacific Northwest can give. Please consider making a lasting impact with your donation.

Braided River Receives $30,000 from Paul Wiseman Conservation Education Funds

The Mountaineers Foundation is excited to join in partnership with Braided River and the Burke Museum to introduce a new book, The North Cascades: Finding Beauty and Renewal in the Wild Nearby.

Braided River’s mission is to inspire action to protect wild places in western North America through images and stories that change perspectives. This new book pairs beautiful photographs with essays by William Dietrich and makes a strong case for the on-going stewardship of the North Cascades region.

The North Cascades book coverDuring the months of June through November 2016, the Burke Museum will host an immersive exhibit built on this book. This exhibit will capitalize on the tremendous opportunity to introduce the natural beauty of the North Cascades to exhibit visitors, encourage people to develop a deeper sense of attachment to this place, introduce recreational opportunities that people may not yet be familiar with, invite greater participation in Washington’s outdoors community, and provide a pathway to stewardship for this region.

An exciting aspect of the exhibit will be a discussion series for new Washington residents. In 2015, Washington State saw a 93,200 person increase in population. Braided River will send author Bill Dietrich into cities and towns encircling the North Cascades to lead a series of talks geared specifically for new Washington state residents.

Book author Bill Dietrich

Book author William Dietrich

This discussion series will bring new state residents to a fuller understanding of the region’s ecological and cultural importance while instilling a sense of ownership for these remarkable resources.

Stay close to the Braided River and Burke Museum web sites for more information as the June opening date gets closer.

Forterra Receives $15,000 Grant

Funds Will Help Purchase 440 Acres
Along Carbon River Corridor

The Mountaineers Foundation is excited to join in partnership with Forterra and Pierce County Parks and Recreation. Thanks to a very generous bequest from the Bert Brown estate, the Mountaineers Foundation was able to grant Forterra $15,000 to complete their funding package to purchase 440 acres along the Carbon River Canyon.

Carbon River CanyonThe Carbon River Canyon is an irreplaceable treasure, one of the spectacular natural landscapes that define Washington State and is under threat due to fragmentation, development and timber harvest.

The Carbon River flows from the Carbon Glacier on Mount Rainier through Mount Rainier National Park before joining the Puyallup River at Orting. Along the way, it flows through the 600-foot deep Carbon River Canyon. The river is unencumbered by dams and provides critical spawning habitat for fall Chinook and winter steelhead (both threatened species).

The canyon’s high-quality coniferous forest habitat is home to many native fish and wildlife species, including Rocky Mountain elk, Northern goshawk, Pileated woodpecker, and a variety of cavity-nesting birds, amphibians, and small mammals.

The river and the forested canyon leading from the historic towns of Carbonado and Wilkeson up to the Park offer breathtaking landscape views.

This area is also a biodiversity corridor, linking Mt. Rainier National Park to the Puget Sound lowlands and the Puyallup Valley. This corridor is used extensively by migrating Rocky Mountain Elk that travel from the Park to lowland agricultural areas every summer.