Coronavirus Response

This is a time of experiment and change. We are resilient and are preparing to be even stronger on the other side of this pandemic. North Cascades Institute and its programs provide not only learning, but the healing that many of us will be seeking.

At a Glance

      • We successfully reopened the Environmental Learning Center this fall on a modified basis for weekend Base Camps! This pilot program was a great success and we look forward to welcoming people back again next Spring. Read about the coronavirus precautions that will impact everyone's safety in a positive way:

      • Read about how we are offering environmental education both virtually and in-person in this recent news article.

      • Snow and Forest Schools in 2021 are cancelled per school district guidance. Mountain School Spring 2021 is cancelled but we are making plans to resume Fall 2021 with our new curriculum.

      • The North Cascades Environmental Learning Center campus is closed to the public, as are many visitor facilities in North Cascades National Park and Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest. When heading outside, please #RecreateResponsibly to keep yourself and others safe and healthy!

      •  Our offices are closed Fridays-Sundays and all of our staff are working reduced hours. We will respond to voicemails and emails as this new schedule allows, thanks for your patience.

Leer en Español 

Entrepreneurial Spirit

We are entrepreneurs at our core, so we’re focusing on programs we can offer, while developing modifications and new initiatives. 

While we cannot gather in person right now, North Cascades Institute is still here and working hard to inspire environmental stewardship through transformative experiences in nature. Our talented instructors have created "Mountain School at Home" lessons and activities for kids and parents to connect with nature in their own backyard and Youth Leadership Adventures staff are sharing resources for older students to learn about climate change, environmental justice and youth activism. Our staff assembled Family Getaways @ Home activity packages that we are mailing out and we produced a series of videos for Virtual Skagit Tours to bring the natural and cultural history of the North Cascades to you.

We’re operating the Skagit Information Center in Newhalem and a popup tent outside the Newhalem Visitor Center to sell park visitors souvenirs, gifts and gear, and promoting sales in our online store.

We invite those who are able to support North Cascades Institute's work during these challenging times to make a donation. Thank you.


A Message from our Executive Director

This is a really tough time. The pandemic, and resulting loss of life-as-we-knew-it, impacts us all deeply and personally. We're so sad that the Institute can’t be out in the mountains and forests doing the work we were primed and ready to do this year: teaching groups of children and adults with our updated mission and new strategic plan, new colleagues, and new ideas.

With all the uncertainty about balancing “reopening the economy” with a scientific approach to the expanding pandemic, we've been asking the question “do we believe we can safely open Learning Center programs this summer?" Many questions are still on the table, with no clear answers, so given this uncertainty we made the difficult decision to cancel Learning Center programs and Field Excursions through August. This impacts Base Camp, Family Getaways and Learning Center classes as well our Conferences and Retreats. It breaks our hearts to do this, but we believe it’s the responsible thing to do.

We were fortunate to receive a PPP loan from the federal stimulus, which allowed us to rehire furloughed staff and put their creativity to work for a couple months. Each day, Institute staff (virtually) show up to reinvent themselves and our shared work. We are proud of what we have been able to accomplish in the last two months, including the “Mountain School at Home” project, which shares educational videos, lessons and creative blog posts with teachers, parents and students (see details below). Staff are also working on a slate of exciting capacity-building projects: foodshed and garden lessons, painting the Dining Hall, Learning Center accessibility projects, Spanish translations of educational materials, the Mountain School curriculum update, virtual Family and Adult experiences, and much more!

We're grateful to each of you who helped us make the Spring "Give BIG for Youth" campaign so successful, raising $170,000 to support Mountain School and other youth programs and bringing in a record number of new donors. Thank you so much! If you missed the flurry around GiveBIG, we could still use your help in navigating these uncertain and challenging times. Thank you for considering making a donation.

Even though the future is uncertain, we remain committed to getting people of all ages outside in nature as soon as possible. We will be ready, with our partners, to offer programs that are safe and engaging to inspire environmental stewardship through transformative learning experiences in nature.

Saul Weisberg, North Cascades Institute Executive Director
Spring 2020

If you have any questions, please contact us at (360) 854-2599 or at Our staff are working remotely so please be patient for a response.

Follow us on Facebook and sign up for our eNewsletter for ongoing updates. 

Suggested resources:

Facts about novel coronavirus and how to prevent COVID-19

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 

Los Centros para el Control y la Prevención de Enfermedades 

Whatcom County Health District

Departamento de Salud del Condado de Whatcom

updated 8/20/20