Awards & Testimonials


Parentmap Magazine — "Best Summer Splurges that are Worth It"

U.S Forest Service — Wings Across the Americas Conservation Award: Urban Community and Partnership Award

Sunset Magazine — Best Luxury Camping finalist
Parentmap Magazine — 
Camps and Classes Golden Teddy finalist

Parentmap Magazine — Top Ten Great Getaways / Northwest Lodges

Association of Nature Center Administrators — 2013 Nature Center Leadership Award

Re Sources — 2013 Environmental Heroes Award

Bellingham Alive! Readers Poll — Best Place to Work

Charity Navigator — 10th consecutive Four-Star rating for exemplary fiscal management (top 1% of nonprofit organizations)

National Park Service — Outstanding Partnership Achievement

U.S Forest Service — Urban Communities in Conservation Award

Charity Navigator — 7th consecutive Four-Star rating for exemplary fiscal management (top 2% of nonprofit organizations)

North American Association for Environmental Education — Outstanding Service Provider

Environmental Education Association of Washington — Organizational Excellence Award

Bellingham Public School Foundation — School Community Partnership Award (Mountain School)

Charity Navigator — Best U.S. Environmental Protection and Conservation Organization

Sunset Magazine — “Champions of the West” Achievement in Environmental Education

Recreational Equipment, Inc. (REI) — Great Places Award

What People Are Saying

I'm a deep believer that the National Park Service’s roles and responsibilities, and challenges of the future, are not going to be met without partners like North Cascades Institute. We need these kinds of organizations. We need them to be successful. We need them to have their independence. We need them joined with us on this noble mission. When we've got a great Park and a great Park staff and a great Institute and a great Institute staff, amazing things happen.”

− Jon Jarvis, National Park Service Director 2009-2017

I'd like to emphasize how important Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest's relationship is with North Cascades Institute. Our work with this organization and the youth we engage together is some of the most meaningful work any of us do on the district. Their staff’s dedication, enthusiasm and passion for public lands — and the youth who stand to inherit it — is infectious and uplifting. On behalf of all of us in the US Forest Service, we thank North Cascades Institute for their constancy, their drive and their commitment to building human connection with the outdoors. It is an inspiration!”

— Erin Uloth, Mt. Baker District Ranger, Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest

Bellingham Public Schools’ partnership with North Cascades Institute to send all 5th graders to Mountain School helps us demonstrate the importance of teaching and inspiring the whole child, in and out of the classroom. The outdoors is a big part of our community culture, but for some of our students, going to Mountain School is their first encounter with the national park. The Institute’s professional staff go to great lengths to ensure our kids have a wonderful learning experience. The incredible Environmental Learning Center provide an invaluable experience not only for our students, but for our teachers and parents as well.”

— Greg Baker, Superintendent, Bellingham School District

I love coming to the North Cascades Institute. First, there is the spectacular place – the bright water, the deep woods, the gleaming mountains. Then, there are the people – the young teachers, the wise elders, botanists and writers and birders and kids with backpacks and dreams. And then, the vision – that when people come to learn about a place, they come to love it, and when they love it, they care for it and rejoice in its thriving. What could be more important in our wounded world? What could be more healing?”

− Kathleen Dean Moore, author of Wild Comfort, Riverwalking and Moral Ground

Keeping people of all ages and experiences closely connected with real, living nature in the out-of-doors is some of the most important work in the world today. Having worked in conservation and education for forty years, half of that with the North Cascades Institute, I can honestly say that no one carries out this work better. The Institute is simply one of the most valuable and effective presences in Cascadia, and in my entire realm of acquaintance.”

− Robert Michael Pyle, author of Wintergreen, The Thunder Tree, Chasing Monarchs, Walking the High Ridge: Life as Field Trip and Mariposa Road

As North Cascades Institute opens the Environmental Learning Center that so many people have dreamed for years of creating, I feel I'm being given a gift of hope. In future years, people will come here to learn about the environment that shelters and sustains us – the natural systems that we do not own but to which we, as a species, belong – and those people will grow up to be neither the destroyers nor the destroyed, but responsible citizens of a habitat, a food web, and a planet.”

− Barbara Kingsolver, author of Animal, Vegetable, Miracle; Animal Dreams; The Bean Trees; Prodigal Summer; Small Wonder; The Poisonwood Bible and The Lacuna

It's easy to praise the majestic surroundings at North Cascades Institute − the quiet deep presence of the lake, the lush and vibrant forest that both soothes and inspires, and always, the mountains, just above. But what must not be left unsaid also is the intensity of the learning experience within the classrooms. The ideas and lessons one absorbs, and the discussions, are profound and lasting.”

− Rick Bass, author of The Wild Marsh, Why I Moved West, Ninemile Wolves, The Hermit’s Story, Colter and Where the Sea Used to Be

North Cascades Institute introduces children – and reintroduces adults – to an increasingly remote outdoors. It introduces wonder. It reminds us why we should be amazed. Environmental education is not a luxury, it is the thing than can save us. We’re not just an adaptable species, we’re a smart one, and we can solve this sucker – but only if we get to work at engaging kids, not placating them, and inspiring them, not distracting them. That’s what North Cascades Institute is all about. Learn. And then act.”

− William Dietrich, Pulitzer-winning journalist, author of The Final Forest, Natural Grace, Northwest Passage, The Dakota Cipher, Hadrian's Wall and Napoleon's Pyramids

Along with teaching us about the natural world, the North Cascades Institute also simply offers one of the most beautiful and reinvigorating getaways in the country. And what I remember best from my visit are the bright and fun, big-hearted people who work for this organization."

− Jim Lynch, author of The Highest Tide and Border Songs

I love the work of North Cascades Institute, helping people fall in love with the magic of our incredible North Cascades. I really enjoyed my time as an instructor there, and can't wait for more opportunities to collaborate."

— Chris Morgan, ecologist, conservationist, educator, TV host and film producer


Read media coverage of North Cascades Institute from National Geographic, The Seattle Times, The Guardian and more