Thanks for the recent update from Lace Thornburg about the The Sasquatch Seeker’s Field Manual. This creative grantee is using the iconic Sasquatch to design a contest-driven curricula for citizen science.


The organizations below have received grants from The Washington Foundation for the Environment. An important aspect of our work  involves environmental issue slams which are held each year on Earth Day.

Makenzie White, a former student of Explorer West, who now attends the Northwest School, said this of the Environmental Slam:

 I have participated in the Environmental Slam for the last three years, and each time has taught me something valuable and useful that I doubt I could have learned elsewhere. Through the many issues that I researched, compiled information on, and presented to the audience I began to develop a passion for social change, leadership, and participation. At my last Slam my project (Students for Sustainable Slopes) even won, and I continue to work on it to this day. The Slam provided me with a launching board to promote development in my community, and as a consequence has made me feel like I have begun to successfully contribute to society and to my future. 

Explorer West Wins 2015

This past year, 546 fourth graders from the Bellingham School District traveled to San Juan Island to learn about Salish Sea ecology, particularly how our daily actions impact the health of Orca whales and other sea creatures. The field trip, co-sponsored by WFFE, included the trip on Washington State Ferries, presentations on Orcas, tide pool explorations and whale-watching at Lime Kiln State Park.

group photo bellingham group salish sea

        tide pools (BellinghamStudy time bellingham2 girls tidepool bellinghamBellingham learninng about OrcasWhale watchinng bellingham salish sea

Notes from the Field

With the close of each project, WFFE’s grantees share their stories with us. Here a few field notes from 2015.

The Gifford Pinchot Task Force (GPTF) used WFFE funding to carry out its invasive species hikes in 2015. These hikes are part of their EDRR- early detection rapid response- of forest managers and conservation groups addressing the negative impacts of invasive plants on native plant populations. The GPTF also developed its field data collection system used to gather and store data and photographs in the field using I pads. This grant dovetails well with related invasive plant work undertaken by the Pacific Northwest Invasive Plant Council (PNW IPC). WFFE funded the Council’s broader work to expand training.

In 2015, the PNW IPC partnered with 25 organizations and led 10 free invasive plant trainings to the public. Two hundred and ninety seven people attended trainings and 120 new volunteers were recruited. Volunteers contributed over 2,000 hours of service documenting and eradicating invasive plant species from national forests and other public lands in Washington and Oregon State. Volunteers conducted 178 surveys and over half of the surveys documented priority invasive plants. Volunteers surveyed 576 miles of hiking trails and surveying 1,768 acres of public land. PNW IPC volunteers and partner organizations led 21 organized group hikes to monitor and eradicate invasive plants that drew 84 participants.

The Science and Math Institute, part of Tacoma Public Schools, used WFFE funding to build a submersible to survey biodiversity on creosote pilings vs. concrete pilings. The students are analyzing the effects of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, or PAHs, which are found in creosote. PAHs are implicated in a wide range of adverse effects on fish. The Institute students also visited Mason Middle School and led a workshop focusing on the effect of robots and submersibles generally and more specifically, in relation to their project.

Friends of Nisqually Wildlife Refuge was able to transport four classes, or 100 students, to participate in the Eye on Nature Program due to WFFE funding. Eye on Nature is a partnership between the Refuge, the Friends of Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge, The Chehalis Basin Education Consortium and the Nisqually Reach Nature Center. This program serves a particularly important role as it supports and serves underserved populations of students. The students took part of citizen science activities on site. One student remarked “I want to live at this Refuge.”

In 2015, WFFE was also happy to support the Wenatchee River Institute which delivered a two day training called Flying WILD. This nationally renowned curriculum contextually links birds with topics in biology, language arts, science and math. This contextual approach creates greater resonance of the importance of birds as an indicator and enriches analytical skills and approaches to problem solving.

We supported a physical Kiosk for the West Hills STEM Academy in Kitsap County. The kiosk will display student work created in Scientific Illustration class, Graphic Design class and the SUCCESS program. Physical objects like kiosks are effective, free-standing interpretive tools for visitors, acting as a permanent docent to explain what people are experiencing and seeing.

The North Cascades Institute was also funded to help bring to fruition its 2015 Youth Leadership Summit. The goals of the conference were to help students:
– Reconnect and reinforce their experiences in the backcountry
– Enhance their leadership, communication and group cooperation skills
– Meet and connect with other students, partners, supporters and regional service organizations
– Find opportunities to engage through service, jobs, internships, college and summer programs
– Create an Action Plan to continue engaging with service, leadership and/or the outdoors
– Make plans to fulfill service learning or senior project graduation requirements
– Connect with mentors who can help them fulfill their goals
These are students who are typically underrepresented in outdoor education.

NC field tripInquiry

On Diablo

Olympics from Shilshole (2)

The Pacific Biodiversity Institute engaged in a conservation leadership course which strengthened formal education with experiential field work.



WFFE’s Fabulous Grantees

21 Acres

Academy School

Academy Schools (Tukwila)

Adults for Lil Sprouts

Audubon Washington

Bainbridge Island High School

Bellingham Public Schools

Bike Works

Cascades Carnivore Project

Chimacum Middle School

Columbia Gorge Institute

Conservation Northwest

Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition

Environmental Education Association of Washington

Environmental Science Center (Burien)

Fauntleroy Watershed Council

Franklin Conservation District

Friends of Issaquah Salmon Hatchery

Friends of Nisqually

Friends of Pierce County

Friends of Skagit County


Garfield High School

Hanford Challenge

Hazan High School

Homewaters Project

Hood Canal Watershed Project

I-90 Wildlife Bridges Coalition

Institutes for Journalism & Natural Resources


Kent Parks Foundation

Kittitas Environmental Education Network
Project: Get Intimate with the Shrub Steppe

Kittitas Environmental Education Network
P.O. Box 687
Ellensburg WA 98926

Mountaineers Books

Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust

Nature Consortium

North Cascades Institute

North Central Audubon Society

Northshore School District

Northwest Natural Resource Group

Olympia High School

Pacific Education Institute

Pacific NW Invasive Plant Council

Partnership School for the Sciences

People for Puget Sound

Project Seawolf Coastal Protection

Quillasascut Farm

RE Sources for Sustainable Communities

Restore America’s Estuaries

Salish Sea Expeditions

Sammamish High School

Save Habitat and Diversity of Wetlands

Sea Resources

Seattle Audubon Society
Project: Finding Urban Nature

Seattle Tilth

Skagit Conservation Education Alliance

Snoqualmie Valley Farm Stewardship Program

Sound Experience

South Sound Estuary Association

South Sound Green

Spokane Parks and Recreation Department
Project: Reforest Spokane

Spokane River Forum

The Lands Council

The Whale Trail

United Way of Pierce County

Vancouver Watersheds Alliance

Washington Green Schools

Wenatchee River Institute

West Hills STEM Academy

YMCA Earth Corps