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.


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.


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!


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.


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!


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!


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. 


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. 


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! 


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. 


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!


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.


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.


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.


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!



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! 

Ready to make a difference? 
If you want to be a leader in Environmental Education, we designed this program with you in mind. Come visit our campus and see for yourself. , our Graduate Outreach Assistant,
to request an informational packet or schedule your campus visit!



We’re looking for people with a passion for field-based environmental education who want to influence change by building healthy, creative organizations. That means an equal interest in field teaching techniques and the behind-the-scenes work that makes programs happen and organizations thrive."

-Saul Weisberg, Executive Director
North Cascades Institute