Graduate Students

We're creating a new generation of leaders for communities throughout North America. Our graduates come to the program with a wide range of skills and experiences (listed below) and succeed in an equally diverse range of careers, from public and private schools to natural resource agencies and community service organizations.

CLASS OF 2019

  • C17 Marissa

    Marissa Bluestein
    Bio coming soon!

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  • C17 Eric

    Eric Buher
    Bio coming soon!

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  • C17 Charlee

    Charlee Corra
    Bio coming soon!

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  • C17 Liz

    Liz Grewal
    Bio coming soon!

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  • C17 Ashley

    Ashley Hill
    Bio coming soon!

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  • C17 Tanner

    Tanner Johnson
    Bio coming soon!

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  • C17 Brendan

    Brendan McGarry
    Bio coming soon!

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  • C17 Montana

    Montana Napier
    Bio coming soon!

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  • C17 Darcy

    Darcy Page
    Bio coming soon!

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  • C17 Gina

    Gina Roberti
    Bio coming soon!

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  • C17 Amy

    Amy Sanchez
    Bio coming soon!

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  • C17 Kira

    Kira Taylor-Hoar
    Bio coming soon!

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  • C17 Nate

    Nate Trachte
    Bio coming soon!

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  • C17 Zoe

    Zoe Wadkins
    Bio coming soon!


CLASS OF 2018

  • C16-Jihan-Grettenberger

    Jihan Grettenberger
    As a proud Pacific Northwesterner from Olympia, Washington, Jihan is excited to be home to study at NCI and grow as an educator as she connects individuals directly to nature. Valuing nature and protecting our natural resources were ingrained in her at a young age as her parents took her camping, hiking, bird watching, and backpacking. At Pacific Lutheran University, she decided environmental education was her calling and pursed a degree in Environmental Studies. After graduating, she interned with Youth Garden Project in Moab, Utah and then served for two years as an Environmental Conservation Peace Corps Volunteer in Panama. She enjoys baking, bike riding, ultimate frisbee, berry picking, hiking, camping, and anything else that gets her outdoors and meeting new people.

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  • C16-Kay-Gallagher

    Kay Gallagher
    Kay spent most of her childhood exploring the wilderness of New England. From a young age she developed a passion for science and curiosity. In 2012 she earned a degree in Biology from the University of Vermont. Since then she has held various environmental education jobs across the US: lead teacher at the Houston Zoo, residential educator for 5th graders at Nature's Classroom in NH, Naturalist / Camp Coordinator at a Farm/ Nature Center in Connecticut and, most recently, Farmyard Educator in northern Vermont. She has also spent the last 18 years teaching and training in the martial art of TaeKwondo, where she developed her passion for teaching and mentoring - both kids and adults. She is excited to dive into learning the skills to eventually operate her own environmental learning program. Outside of the classroom Kay enjoys crafting, block printing, split boarding, rock climbing, mountain biking, paddle boarding, martial arts and exploring her new surroundings!

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  • Ca6-Jenny-OToole

    Jenny O’Toole
    Jennifer O’Toole is from a suburb outside the Twin Cities, Minnetonka, MN. She grew up canoeing and camping in the Boundary Waters and swing dancing and singing in Minneapolis. Just returned from 3 years in China and Taiwan, she was learning a third language while teaching English and outdoor education with Outward Bound. She was in Mexico and Spain before that, travelling, teaching and practicing her salsa dancing! Though she’s loved every public and private school opportunity she’s had the privilege of teaching in, she’s eager to immerse herself in the possibilities of a healthier education; any combination of outdoor, environmental, experiential, diverse culture and language-rich curriculum. Working at NCI she is inspired, challenged and pushed to grow as an educator and advocator for the Earth, re-centering herself on what education is all about.

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  • C16-Rachael-Grasso

    Rachael Grasso
    Rachael is a Pennsylvania native who grew up with a love for wild places and adventure. With a B.S. in Recreation, Park and Tourism Management from Penn State, she has guided and instructed throughout Pennsylvania’s rivers, rocks, mountains, forests and caves. Most recently, Rachael worked in the world’s oldest mountain range, the Appalachians, at the Mountain Institute in West Virginia. There, she blended her love of the outdoors with environmental science and placed-based learning. Over the years, Rachael has discovered she learns best from hands-on experience and interactive teaching methods, which makes NCI the perfect place for her to continue her education. She is thrilled to be in the Cascades, immersing herself in a new ecosystem. When she’s not in the field teaching, Rachael loves to pack up her cargo van and explore the country with her husband, Brian. She hopes to see all fifty states by the time she turns thirty, and she’s well on her way!

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  • C16-Hanna-Davis

    Hanna Davis
    Growing up in the Manzano mountains of central New Mexico, Hanna spent her early years exploring the National Forest that was her backyard. She moved to Olympia, Washington to pursue her B.S. in Zoology at The Evergreen State College, and found herself in awe that a place could be so green. She spent the following years doing non-invasive wildlife research: studying jaguars in Belize, camera-trapping carnivores in Madagascar, and searching for wolves in central Idaho. She filled in the off-season working at daycares in ski resorts, and discovered she loved working with children. Hanna is delighted to be combining science and education in this amazing community of the North Cascades!

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  • C16-Melissa-Biggs

    Melissa Biggs
    Melissa grew up in Annapolis, Maryland, surrounded by roads and buildings.  She always craved being outside.  She jumped at every chance she could get to do any type of outdoor activities, such as camping, kayaking, hiking, and biking.  Melissa graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood and Elementary Education with a concentration in Environmental Studies.  After two years of teaching kindergarten and first grade, she decided to attend North Cascades Institute to achieve her dreams of teaching environmental education.  She is incredibly excited to receiving her Masters of Education, while being surrounded by a beautiful landscape. 

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  • C16-Sarah-Clement

    Sarah Clement
    Sarah grew up in Seattle, Washington, and spent the first 22 years of her life in the Pacific Northwest. Her parents, active outdoor enthusiasts, used every family vacation to instill in Sarah a passion for the outdoors. She went along with it, rather reluctantly, until she arrived at Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Oregon, and discovered the college’s outdoor program. Sarah spent much of her four years at Lewis & Clark in the College Outdoors warehouse, leading weekend trips, and playing ultimate Frisbee. After graduating with a degree in Environmental Studies, Sarah moved to Colorado to work for the Colorado Outward Bound School in Leadville. She worked for COBS for two seasons, and spent the winter months working at a Nordic center just outside of Leadville. She is an avid backcountry skier and a novice whitewater canoeist. After two years away from the gray skies of the PNW, Sarah is excited to return to her home territory. 

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  • C16-Emily-Brine

    Emily Brine
    Emily Brine, 23, is a Pacific Northwest native born and raised in Olympia, WA. She spent her childhood exploring the forests of the Olympic and Cascade mountain ranges and quickly became a lover of the outdoors. Emily took her passion for tromping around in the woods all the way to college where she earned a B.S. in Parks, Tourism, and Recreation Management from the University of Montana. Recently, Emily spent the summer of 2015 walking a distance of 2,650 miles from Mexico to Canada on the Pacific Crest Trail. Along the way she earned the trail name "Smokey" which is what her fellow graduate students call her at NCI. Her professional goal is to become a ranger for the National Park Service and to be the best ski instructor the world has ever seen. After graduate school, Emily plans on hiking the Appalachian Trail and saving the world! 

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  • C16-Nick-Engelfried

    Nick Engelfried
    Nick grew up surrounded by the beautiful mountains and forests of the Pacific Northwest, where he learned to appreciate and observe the natural world. Hours spent watching birds, insects, and plants in their habitats while growing up inspired him with a love of nature and a desire to share this passion with others. Over the years Nick has worked with birds of prey and hoof stock at the Oregon Zoo, taught kids about wetlands, developed campaign strategy for grassroots environmental and social justice groups, and helped start three environmental advocacy organizations based in Missoula, Montana. Somewhere along the way he earned a BA in Environmental Studies from Pacific University in Oregon, and an MS in Environmental Studies from the University of Montana. Nick decided to return to school after realizing he needed to reconnect with the love of nature that inspired him to get involved in conservation work in the first place, and to gain a better grounding in environmental education strategies and nonprofit work. 

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  • C16-Ash-Kunz

    Ash Kunz
    Born and raised on the east side of the Cascades in the recreational rich Central Washington town of Wenatchee. Ash spent most of her free time playing and exploring all the amazing adventures the Wenatchee Valley has to offer; from hiking to biking to climbing. While pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in German Language and Literature at Washington State University, she worked for the Outdoor Recreation Center, teaching climbing, backpacking, kayaking and skiing. After completing her degree, she joined the Student Conservation Association and completed a yearlong internship through the SCA, in conjunction with the National Park Service in Flagstaff, Arizona. Working with visitors, and school groups specifically, she found true joy in helping and teaching others about the natural world and introducing them to new experiences and ideas. This program brings her back to the Pacific Northwest – and to the mountains she loves – and will help deepen her ability for sharing the amazing beauty the world has to offer!

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  • C16-Alexei-Desmarais

    Alexei Desmarais
    Though he grew up all over the world, Alexei calls the incomparable mountains of Crested Butte, Colorado home. When he moved to Seattle 3 years ago to work with in restoration and leadership development with urban teens he fell deeply in love with the Pacific Northwest (especially with the really big trees!!). Through outdoor explorations—skiing, mountain biking, and trail running—and professional experiences as an educator, naturalist, outdoor trip leader, ski patroller, and trail-builder he has come to know the lush, deep forests and high glaciated summits of the Pacific Northwest on a more meaningful level. He is thrilled about the opportunity to dig into a renewed sense of place, to gain greater familiarity with these mountain environs, and to live, learn and grow alongside and within the greater NCI community. When not in the mountains or naturalizing, Alexei can be found writing poetry. Or reading a good book.

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  • C16-Angela-Burlile

    Angela Burlile
    Angela was born in South Korea and raised in the beautiful Matanuska-Susitna Valley near Wasilla, Alaska. Growing up, she spent most of her childhood outside, camping, hiking and fishing around the mountains that surrounded her hometown. After finishing school, she moved to Colorado for two years at Colorado Mesa University and then completed her degree at Western Washington University. Wanting to gain a new perspective, she moved back to South Korea to teach ESL to public school elementary students for six years. She fell in love with teaching and hoped to find a way to combine this career with her love for the outdoors. She is grateful for the opportunity to develop her skills as an experiential educator and connect students to the natural world around them at the North Cascades Institute. In her free time, Angela enjoys exploring the world, meeting its many inhabitants, sharing cups of coffee, climbing mountains and catching the sunrise.

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  • C16-Becky-Moore

    Becky Moore
    Becky Moore grew up in a small coastal town in southeastern Connecticut, spending her childhood exploring the ocean, estuaries, forests and ski mountains of New England. Many summers of nature camp combined with adventurous parents created an early and deep passion for the outdoor world. She also discovered her love for kids through many years working as a camp counselor at a local organic farm. After getting a Bachelors of Science in Biology from Bates College, she hopped in her car and followed her heart and these two loves across the country to NCI, the perfect opportunity to combine a fascination with the biology and ecology of the natural world and teaching kids outside. Becky believes that her exposure to nature as a child was life-changing, and hopes to be able to instill the wonder and passion about the outdoors in the younger generation that they might not have the opportunity to discover otherwise.

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  • C16-Dan-Dubie

    Dan Dubie
    Growing up in New England I have always felt at home in wild places.  This comfort has lead me to work and live in wild places of Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine and now Washington.  In those places I have enjoyed living and working as a wildland firefighter, wilderness ranger, bear education specialist, sled dog handler, backcountry ski guide, and outdoor instructor.  Along with work and education I enjoy and have enjoyed natural history, fishing, hunting, wilderness canoeing, backpacking, photography, botany, birding, sailing, and just being outdoors.  My life of education, stewardship, conservation, outreach, and enjoyment of the outdoors has lead me to the NCI where I hope to share and grow as an educator, teacher, naturalist, and friend.  This natural progression through my life has led to this opportunity of refinement and growth that may provide a leadership role in a world of utmost love and passion to me!