Youth Programs and Scholarships

Through the generous support of donors like you, we are able to provide transformative educational experiences in nature for all. Thank you for inspiring and empowering environmental stewardship by supporting scholarships today!

Want to apply for Scholarships? Find out more under the program area you're interested in: Adult and Family Programs; Youth Leadership Adventures; Graduate M.Ed. Program 

School Programs

© Buff Black
Mountain School is our 28 year-old residential education program at the Environmental Learning Center in the heart of North Cascades National Park. Over 3 days, students spend 60 hours learning about ecological communities with their classmates, teachers, and parent chaperones. Hands-on, interdisciplinary experiences connect students to the natural and cultural history of our watershed. For most, this is the first time they visit a national park, spend a night away from home, and discover the connections between their lives, communities, and the environment. We prioritize participation of local, full school districts and subsidize costs on a sliding-scale, based on Federal Free & Reduced Lunch percentages. We also provide clothing and nutritious locally-sourced meals. Over 2,400 students participate each year with 84% of schools receiving financial aid.

Deep in the forested embrace of the upper Skagit River Valley, you can find the next two generations of Americans getting to know a national park. I heard hooting like owls and howling like wolves, coming from a circle of fifth graders and their wilderness instructors.”

— Timothy Egan, National Geographic

Mt. Baker SnowSchool Learning
Snow School is a day-long outdoor winter learning adventure combining applied science education with snowshoe-powered exploration at the Mt. Baker Ski Area. Middle and high school students and their teachers engage in research and hands-on learning around the themes of weather, watersheds and climate. Over the past two years the number of sessions and schools served has increased with the number of students served nearly doubling. Over 90% of the participating schools are are Title 1, low-income schools and many of these students have never been to Mt. Baker or had any experience like this.

By measuring snowpack density, students now understand why avalanches occur. They also see more clearly how snow influences our quality of life in Bellingham through the watershed that makes its way down the Nooksack River and out to the bay; and ultimately it teaches how everything is connected and why we need to protect our local environment."

— Kulshan Middle School Counselor

Forest School was started this year in partnership with Bellingham Public Schools with hopes to expand it next year. At the Gordon Carter Conservation Site, 3rd graders explore habitat interdependence by looking for beetle boreholes in decaying logs and learning that woodpeckers have tongues two feet long. 3rd graders have a growth spurt in language and social development, so it is a particularly crucial time to take learning outdoors. Forest School increases students’ attention spans by tapping into their natural inclination toward curiosity and play. A few teachers said:

My kids benefitted from Forest School in many ways. Some kids who are very quiet and calm in the classroom were busy and talkative in the forest. Kids who are clean and put together at school were excited to get dirty! I also noticed different teams working together."
I value building connections with students and tying hands-on experiences to my curriculum."

Through these shared outdoor experiences, students connect to their larger neighborhood, relate with their peers in new ways, discover personal interests, develop leadership skills and healthy lifestyles, and improve academic success.And because of donors like you, we can offer these programs to schools at a fraction of their cost.

Give to support School Programs. 

Youth Leadership 

Youth Leadership fosters conservation values, community engagement, and appreciation for our public lands in underserved high school students. Summer offers Youth Leadership Adventures which include week-long wilderness trips to empower the next generation of conservation leaders. Other opportunities include the Northwest Youth Leadership Summit which develops students' personal and professional skills to serve the environment and communities; Youth Ambassadors which provides college workshops, recreation, mentorship, leadership skills, and stewardship; and later: Internship opportunities to lead summer courses while gaining work experience in this field.

Before this trip I was a shy girl from a small town. Now I know that I shouldn't be afraid to use my voice. I should act on issues that matter to me, like climate change."

— Youth Leadership Adventures Student

These students come from diverse backgrounds. Some are first generation immigrants; some have grown up in rural gateway communities; many could not participate in this program without a scholarship. A gift of $1,500 can provide a named scholarship for a Youth Leadership Adventures Student, while a gift of $2,500 supports a summer intern. Over 70 students participate over the summer, and more than 85% need scholarships to attend.

Give a Youth Leadership Adventures Scholarship. 

Endowed Scholarship Funds

Ensure that your scholarship gift lives in perpetuity. An endowment fund creates a legacy that speaks to an individual’s life, values, and commitments while making a difference in the lives of these students. A minimum gift of $25,000 (which may be pledged over 2-3 years) will establish an endowed scholarship. An endowed fund can be created through a bequest, charitable remainder trust, existing life insurance policy, or by endowing a fund today. We will work closely with you to formalize an endowment agreement that reflects your giving intentions, and honors your intent in perpetuity. Each year scholarships will be awarded from the earnings on the fund based on board approved spending policies (typically a 4% distribution is calculated).