Kulshan Creek

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Connecting local youth to conservation and the outdoors

Kulshan Creek Neighborhood Youth Program is a year-round educational initiative that engages young people from three Skagit Valley neighborhoods in a series of outdoor activities including all-day field trips and after-school programs.

The program serves youth ages 5-18 from the Mount Vernon, WA communities of Kulshan Creek, Casa de San Jose and Harrison Apartments. Since 2007, more than 500 youth have learned about bears, bats, marine biology, migratory birds and the natural history of the Skagit Valley through monthly visits to local public lands with a variety of educators.

Field trips to Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, North Cascades National Park, Ebey’s Landing National Historical Reserve, Padilla Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, community gardens, local farms and elsewhere expose kids to special places that they wouldn’t otherwise have the opportunity to experience. Program partners and educators provide youth with transportation, outdoor gear, lunch and snacks, as well as activities to enrich their character and self-confidence, increase their knowledge of the natural world, learn from positive adult mentors and encourage constructive social interactions with peers, community members and local organizations.

Goals of the Kulshan Creek Neighborhood Youth Program include:

  • Foster a connection to nature by increasing students’ understanding of their place in the North Cascades and surrounding region
  • Help students discover the connection between natural resources, public lands and the urban environment
  • Develop a stewardship ethic through meaningful environmental education experiences
  • Facilitate opportunities to gain life skills, build self-esteem and foster community engagement and pride
  • Provide positive role models for staying in school
  • Provide a pathway for students to continue their engagement through next step opportunities including Youth Leadership Adventures and exposure to internships and careers in natural resources, community services, and environmental education.
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    Pathway for Youth:

    As part of our goal to provide a pathway for youth to continue their engagement in conservation and the outdoors, participants are also invited to participate in Youth Leadership Adventures and the Youth Leadership Conference. During summer field trips, Kulshan Creek students complete service projects and learn about sustainability and climate change under the leadership of Youth Leadership Adventures participants.

    Paid internships through Catholic Housing Services of Western Washington provide older students with the opportunity to develop their leadership skills through helping to plan, develop and implement the program. These “Neighborhood Specialists” organize field trips, recruit and mentor students, conduct outreach to local families, plan activities, and help evaluate the program and how well it is meeting community needs.

    The program is the product of a unique grassroots partnership between North Cascades Institute, Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, Mount Vernon Police Department, Catholic Housing Services of Western Washington and North Cascades National Park.

    For more information, please contact Amy Brown, Program Manager, at 360-854-2582 or amy_brown@ncascades.org.