Graduate Students

M.Ed. Graduate

We're creating a new generation of leaders for communities throughout North America


DegreesMany of the Institute's graduate students are professionals with educational backgrounds who are looking to expand their horizons with non-traditional teaching opportunities. The Institute offers an alternative graduate program that blends theory and practice — interdisciplinary, field-based education — where you’ll learn best practices in real-world settings. Each graduate student gets to experience four seasons in the North Cascades, including a summer full of backpacking and naturalist studies, an autumn spent designing curriculum and teaching in the award-winning Mountain School environmental education program and a winter studying place-based education and nonprofit administration. During your free time in the North Cascades, there are countless opportunities for hiking, boating, skiing, climbing and other incredible recreation pursuits in one of the wildest settings in America.


Graduate Class of 2017


Emily Baronich
Emily grew up just outside of Buffalo, NY in a rural village called Springville. She has has been camping within New York State since she was two and could always be found climbing trees, jumping in mud puddles looking for crayfish, eventually working at a summer camp offering canoe trips. Emily has a bachelor’s degree in Adolescent Education with a concentration in Mathematics and has spent the last year teaching Algebra to 8th, 9th and 10th grade students. Shortly after graduation, her great love for the outdoors and teaching led her to North Cascades Institute. Emily is excited for a new adventure in the Pacific Northwest and to immerse herself in a greater outdoor classroom.


Adam Bates
Born and raised in Bellingham and an alumni of Western Washington University's English Department, Adam has been living in Seattle for the last five years. After exploring a wide variety of jobs and career paths, he felt a desire to combine a love for the outdoors with a passion for working with people, leadership development, and youth programming. He was drawn to North Cascades Institute for the combination of coursework and real work experience against the backdrop of the North Cascades. Adam is a published poet and journalist, a hiker, a biker, a runner, a musician and was featured in a movie about boats when he was eight.


Ginna Malley Campos
Ginna Malley Campos was born and raised on the beautiful Caribbean island of Puerto Rico in Borikén. Limestone caves, rivers and beaches were her backyard and friends and family were her home. She graduated from the University of Puerto Rico in 2012 with a Bachelor's Degree in Sociology and has since been exploring her passions and deepening her practice in agro-ecology, permaculture, yoga and outdoor experiential learning for young people. She has a passion for the outdoors and for all the wonders that the natural world provides for us to grow, learn and heal.


Tyler Davis
Tyler was born and raised in southern Mississippi. Growing up, she spent most days outside climbing trees and exploring with her brothers, as well as taking care of her animals and garden. She had the opportunity to intern at Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota when she was in college and realized she had a passion for environmental education. After graduating in 2014 from the University of Southern Mississippi with a Bachelor's Degree in Anthropology, she started researching graduate programs that would allow her to pursue her goal of teaching others about the great outdoors. She found out about this program, and is excited for the incredible opportunity to explore and learn in the Pacific Northwest. In her free time, Tyler's favorite things are hiking, camping, kayaking, listening to records, drinking coffee and spending time with her family, including her dog, Blu. 


Emma Ewert
Emma grew up on the beautiful island of Lopez in the Puget Sound. She spent her childhood hiking and camping all over the Pacific Northwest with her family, and when she wasn’t outside building forts or exploring, she usually had her nose in a book. She finished high school at the United World College of the Atlantic in the United Kingdom. She returned to North America to attend McGill University in Montreal, where she studied International Development and Spanish. However, it was when she returned to Lopez and started working at her local school through AmeriCorps that she discovered that her true passion was education. In particular, she loved watching her students grow and blossom when she could get them outside. When looking for opportunities to be work with kids outside, she remembered an awesome program she had attended as a 5th grader called Mountain School. Looking into it, she was excited to discover that North Cascades Institute had a graduate program! She is excited to spend the next few years being outdoors and engaging kids in the world around them. These days, she is still camping, hiking and reading as much as she can, especially fiction and history set in the Pacific Northwest. She also loves storytelling, baking and knitting.


Emily Ford
Emily grew up “on the lake” in Harbor Springs, Michigan with a healthy diet of beachcombing and tree-climbing. In 2011, she decided she was also hungry for some mountains and moved to the Northwest to pursue a Geology-Environmental Studies degree from Whitman College. She spent her summers guiding multi-day rafting trips on the Green, Colorado, Yampa and Salmon Rivers. Some of her most formative college experiences were in New Zealand, where she fell in love with glaciers and lush forests. Now she has returned to glacial bliss and the big woods with North Cascades Institute’s Graduate Program, during which she enjoys learning and teaching experiential education to anyone who will tolerate her zealous passion for rocks and enthusiasm for camp songs. She looks forward to full days of wandering in the mountains, cozy nights in the Wild Ginger Library and contributing to the many communities that thrive in this region. 


Aly Gourd
Originally from Colorado, Aly discovered her love for the Pacific Northwest while attending the University of Puget Sound. After graduating with a degree in Business, she worked as a Wilderness Therapy Guide in Vermont, spent time in Colorado working at the Douglas County Outdoor Education Center, and eventually made her return to the PNW to teach bouldering to kids at the Seattle Bouldering Project while also working as an assistant Montessori teacher. When adventuring, she can be found biking, climbing, and berrypicking her way through the Northwest. At NCI, she's looking forward to exploring with a community of passionate people who care for the environment and who hope to inspire others to respect, appreciate, and experience the natural world.


Rob Healy
Rob was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest and has been passionate about working outdoors since he was a teenager. He's been employed in a number of environments including volunteering as a mountaineering and climbing instructor for the Cascade Leadership Challenge, Community Youth Services (programming for at-risk youth) and Search and Rescue with King County, WA and Gallatin County, MT. For the last several years, Rob has worked for the Evergreen State College in a number of capacities including Outdoor Program Coordinator, Challenge Course Manager, Athletic Strength and Conditioning Coach and adjunct professor of Experiential Education. Teaching in the mountains and enabling people to surpass their own goals, barriers and expectations has been Rob's calling for as long as he can remember.


Ben Kusserow
Ben grew up around Pittsburgh, PA with an unending appetite for adventure and exploration. Through Allegheny College, he was able to discover his love for singing, cooking, nature and, most of all, teaching. He served a year in a fourth-grade classroom in Manchester, NH through an AmeriCorps program called City Year. During that year of tutoring, he discovered two very important facts: he needed to teach outside and that there is a lack of access of technology and nature to a lot of the students he was serving. With this in mind, his goal is to operate his own Environmental Education Center that allows students from all backgrounds to access the best in technology and nature so that they will develop into the stewards of tomorrow.


 Joe Loviska
Joe grew up in a suburb north of Seattle in a backyard shaded by columnar Douglas firs. It wasn't until he left home for college in Missoula, Montana that he learned that not all forests are so mossy and verdant with goliath trees reaching up out of sight. In the Rockies, he found a new nature where lodgepole pines and larches colonized north-facing slopes while the south faces were bare mountain prairies. These differences stoked his curiosity, and he spent his college years studying creative writing and exploring the backcountry. He learned to backpack, rock climb and mountain bike; to wander along creeks, tracking wildlife, hounding rocks, and generally finding truth and solace in the outdoors. After college he traveled, worked as a bicycle mechanic and, in 2010, became a Tour Leader with Adventure Cycling, a nonprofit bicycle touring organization. From coast to coast and in 38 states, he's now ridden his bicycle more miles than he can count. In those experiences, he found that bicycle touring is a most intimate way to travel through an unknown place and really get to know it: what it smells like; which ecosystems are intact; and which communities are open to newcomers. He chose this M.Ed. program because he wants to combine his skills as a group leader and outdoor recreationalist with his love of wild nature and his interest in education and conservation.


Zachary Lundgren
Born in California, Zachary grew up in many communities up and down the west coast. Having lived in Seattle, Bellingham, the San Juan Islands, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Humboldt County, Zachary is at home near the Pacific Ocean where he enjoys surfing, sailing, mountain climbing and fish tacos. Zachary studied Urban and Environmental Policy at Occidental College. He spent his summers following in his mother's footsteps working for the Forest Service as wildland firefighter. After attaining his degree, Zachary worked as a middle school teacher before becoming an EMT and working on an ambulance as well as in the Emergency Department at Harborview in Seattle. Enjoying the excitement but missing the field of education, Zachary found the perfect program at the North Cascades Institute to continue advancing his knowledge in education. He is passionate for the outdoors and has a deep sense of responsibly in promoting the natural world's preservation through education.


Hannah Newell
Hannah grew up in the Philippines, Indonesia and parts of Southern California. Currently, she calls Seattle home, but her parents hail from Phoenix, Arizona and she finds herself frequenting the desert for vacations and holidays. She would describe herself as a passionate pursuer of all things interesting. She is an amateur photographer with an affinity for hiking, yoga, swimming, writing and crafts. She dabbles in herbal medicines, mushroom hunting, gardening and succulent propagation. She decided to go for this residency program because of her desire to learn and explore the North American landscape and so she can confidently pursue a career in outdoor education.


Sasha Savoian
Propelled by a deep love of landscape, she tends to land in towns where her feet can roam freely through beauty. She's spent time on trails through thick forests leading to craggy peaks, kayaking rivers and the salty waters of the Salish Sea; wandering along slick rock in the Utah desert; skiing through light, dry snow in the Rockies; and backpacking to the wild coast of Washington. She spent a decade in Jackson, WY where she moved after graduating from college in Tennessee, but she's lived in Bellingham, WA for 13 years with no intention of leaving this wild, glaciated, river-gorged, soggy area. Sustainable living is important to her and she lives a simple lifestyle that affords her time to spend outside. You can find her sinking her hands in the dirt of her garden and eating the vegetables that grow, picking berries off unruly bushes, biking around town to her favorite swimming hole, hiking the steep and forested trails of Whatcom County and in the North Cascades, practicing yoga or leaning against a madrona tree overlooking the bay with a good book.


Holli Watne
Holli is a native to the Pacific Northwest and has always found joy in simple pleasures, like looking for life under rocks and squishing mud between her toes. In 2012, she earned a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Biology from Western Washington University. At this time she married, bought a small house in Burlington and started working in the horticulture industry and volunteering for the Skagit Conservation District. She has become known throughout Whatcom and Skagit counties as “the bug lady” because she has been regularly sharing her love for insects by teaching free classes to the public since 2011. The classes started as a self-designed internship with Washington State Parks, but has grown into a deeply fulfilling hobby that Holli has shared with several organizations and now accepts as part of her identity. She has found that teaching members of her community about the principles of Biology, Ecology and Entomology has been far more rewarding than any job ever has, which is why she decided to join the North Cascade Institute's Master of Environmental Education program. When finished with her degree she would like to remain in Skagit County, and serve the community by helping it appreciate Skagit's natural beauty and make well-informed ecological decisions to sustain it.


Annah Young
Annah spent her formative years in a small town in central Maine, tromping around in the nearby rivers, lakes and mountains. She got her undergraduate degree at Skidmore College. Driven by her infatuation with the mountains, she moved to Jackson Hole, WY where she worked for a nonprofit that assisted adults with developmental disabilities and connected them with nature through outdoor experiences. She worked in Berkeley with an environmental education nonprofit organization that uses school gardens and reforestation projects to empower youth. Annah is deeply inspired by this work and excited to continue exploration into environmental education as a means to connect young people with the natural world and to promote social and environmental justice. A keen backcountry skier, biker and explorer, she is beyond excited to experience the magic of the North Cascades! 


Joshua Porter: Graduate Program Director

big_quotation_mark.pngIf you want to be a leader in Environmental Education, we designed this program with you in mind. I invite you to come visit the North Cascades Environmental Learning Center and see for yourself! You can also contact me at or (206) 526-2568 with any questions.Study-Joshua