2014 Garb Day: Back to Tradition!

The UW Forest Club, one of the oldest and longest-running clubs on campus, is proud to present the 2014 edition of Garb Day on May 10 and 11 down at Pack Forest!

If you’ve never been to Garb Day before, picture a long afternoon of playing outdoor games with your friends, drinking beers and barbecuing around a campfire, listening to live music and hanging out late into the night. In short, picture a really fantastic time with a whole bunch of your classmates and colleagues from the SEFS community!

Garb DayThe theme of this year’s Garb Day is “Back to Tradition.” Justine Andreychuk, president of the Forest Club, did some historical research in the UW Archives last week and found clippings from the Seattle Times about Garb Day in the early 1940s. It used to be a weeklong celebration, and all forestry majors had to grow a beard; if you didn’t—or, worse, couldn’t—you could find yourself getting dunked in the nearest fountain or pond. (Women, meanwhile, had to settle for a cigarette-rolling contest. Seriously.) Other events ranged from a wood chop to log rolling, axe throwing and a logger’s brawl.

Andreychuk doesn’t want to bring back all of these traditions, and liability concerns make some them out of the question. Yet there are a few she’s hoping to resurrect this year—with some modern modifications, of course. First off, you are encouraged to bring and wear your forester best, including full flannel garb, jeans and forestry boots. There will also be the crowning of a “Timber Queen” and “Ole, King of the Woods.” Final judging criteria haven’t been set, but Andreychuk says they’ll be looking for who has been the most spirited, had the most fun, encouraged others and generally been an enthusiastic participant in the day’s activities. Prizes for these honors, which last the whole year until new winners are crowned at the next Garb Day, could include a crown, scepter and other SEFS goodies. Needless to say, competition is likely to be fierce.

Remember, Garb Day is open to all students, staff, faculty, family and friends—the more the merrier—so check out the details below and sign up today! And contact Andreychuk if you have any other questions.

Things to Get Excited About
* Salmon bake
* Live music
* Multiple kegs of beer (for those of age)
* Old-growth nature walk
* Tug-of-war and three-legged races
* Other field games, perhaps including kickball and “sticks,” which Andreychuk says is like capture the flag with Frisbees
* Beard-growing competition (begins a week in advance of Garb Day, so get those whiskers going this weekend!)
* Campfires and camping
* General frolicking in the woods

What to Bring
* Tent and sleeping bag (there are a limited spot in cabins, too, in case you prefer a solid roof over your head)
* Sack lunch for Saturday, May 10; all other meals, snacks and drinks will be provided.
* Rain gear and clothes for all sorts of weather. Last year we got lucky with total sunshine, but you never know what to expect!
* Refillable water bottle
* Decent footwear if you plan to do any hiking

Garb DaySchedule of Activities
Official events will kick off at noon sharp on Saturday, May 10. You are welcome to show up and set up camp anytime that morning, but planners hope you will be there and ready for the start of the festivities. Also, remember that Saturday lunch will not be provided, so bring a sack meal to tide you over until the salmon bake and bbq that night.

Dinner will be served at 5:30 p.m., and then there will be some downtime before the evening awards program and the music begins. You are encouraged to bring your own instruments, as well, for strumming and singing deep into the night.

On Sunday, you’ll wake up, pack up and clean up, and there will be some breakfast pastries/light breakfast and coffee. You should plan to be on the road by 11:30 a.m., and by to campus by 1:30 or 2 p.m.

Tickets and Transportation
Tickets are on sale now in the SEFS Advising Office for $20, and that covers just about everything—lodging, all meals except for lunch the first day, beer, etc. You are welcome to provide your own transportation down to Pack Forest, or you can sign up for a group ride from campus by emailing Andreychuk or signing up when you buy your ticket. To reserve your spot in a group car, try to make your reservation by this Monday, May 5!

Directions to Pack Forest
If you’re driving separately, the best route to Pack Forest from Seattle is to take I-5 south to Tacoma, then take exit 127 for WA-512 E toward Puyallup. Turn left onto 512. Stay in the far righthand lane as you will take the Steele Street exit (which is about 0.2 miles down 512). Turn left at Steele Street South. Continue straight through intersections as the road changes from Steele Street into 116th Street, and finally into the Spanaway Loop Road that will bring you to WA-7 S (after a long sweeping turn through a light where the Cross Base Highway will eventually be constructed). Turn right onto Rt. 7 and travel about 20 miles to the entrance of Pack Forest, which will be on your left. Driving time—off-peak hours—is about an hour and 45 minutes.

Garb Day Tug-of-War

Join the Pack Forest Summer Crew!

Every summer, a hardy crew of SEFS students heads down to Pack Forest for two months of hands-on field training in forest management. It’s one of our oldest field traditions, and also one of the most memorable, so take a look at the opportunities coming up this summer!

There are five internship positions available for undergrads during the 2014 Summer Quarter, which runs from June 23 to August 22. Each position is eligible for 5 ESRM credit hours, as well a $200 weekly stipend and free housing.

* Four spots are open for Forest Resource Interns, who will assist with the management and stewardship of Pack Forest’s timber resources, research installations, roads and trails. These students will develop forest mensuration skills, practice species identification, participate in research programs, and learn about sustainable forest management.

* One additional position is available for an Outreach & Education Intern, who will actively participate in public outreach, environmental education and natural resource management. This student will develop skills in communications, public outreach and curriculum development, as well as gain exposure to natural resource management.

The deadline to apply is this coming Wednesday, April 9. If you’re interested, send your resume and a cover letter describing how the internship will fit into your program of study to Professor Greg Ettl.

Also, for a glimpse of the Pack Forest experience, check out the video below—produced by Katherine Turner of UW Marketing & Communications—from the Pack Forest Spring Planting a couple weeks ago!

WSSAF to Hold Annual Meeting at Pack Forest

The 2014 annual meeting of the Washington State Society of American Foresters (WSSAF) will be held May 7-9 at Pack Forest.

WSSAF Annual MeetingThis year’s theme is “Education and Research,” and the agenda is structured to reduce “seat-time” for participants. Attendees will get the opportunity to pick and choose among concurrent indoor sessions and field trips held throughout Pack Forest and the surrounding area.

Topics are wide-ranging, covering everything from biosolids and forest fertilization to silviculture and salmon habitation restoration. SEFS will have a strong representation, including sessions with Professors Greg Ettl, Rob Harrison and Sandor Toth, as well as with Dave Cass, Nicolas Dankers and Zareen Khan.

Registration materials, as well as detailed information on lodging and the meeting agenda, will be mailed to members and available online in the next month. And if you have any questions about the meeting, contact WSSAF at wachair@forestry.org.

Charles Lathrop Pack Essay Competition

In 1923, Charles Lathrop Pack had the foresight to establish an essay competition so that students in the College of Forest Resources would “express themselves to the public and write about forestry in a way that affects or interests the public.” His original mandate continues today at SEFS—as does the unwavering value of good written communication—and we are pleased to announce the 2014 edition of the Charles Lathrop Pack Essay Competition!

Charles Lathrop Pack

Charles Lathrop Pack

The prize for top essays is $500, and this year’s prompt addresses biofuels:

There are great hopes of converting woody biomass into liquid transportation fuels. What are the likely economic, social and ecological ramifications of pursuing a wood-to-liquid fuel strategy in the Pacific Northwest?

Entries are due by Tuesday, April 1, 2014. If you have any questions about the competition, or if you’d like to see if your essay idea sounds promising and appropriate, email Professor Greg Ettl. Otherwise, review the rest of the guidelines below, and get busy thinking and typing!

Essay Criteria
In responding to the prompt, you must justify your answer from a political, ecological and economic point of view. You are expected to provide a technical perspective, addressing a diverse and educated audience that needs further knowledge of natural resource issues. Writers are expected to clearly state the problem or issue to be addressed at the beginning of the essay, and should emphasize a strong public communications element. Course papers substantially restructured to meet these guidelines are acceptable; however, no group entries are permitted. References and quotes are acceptable only when sources are clearly indicated; direct quotes should be used sparingly.

Entries should be typed, double-spaced (one side of paper only), and may not exceed 2,000 words. Include a cover page with student name and title of the essay, then print your submission and deliver to Student and Academic Services in AND 116/130 no later than April 1, 2014.

The competition is open to juniors, seniors and graduate students enrolled in SEFS during Spring Quarter 2014 who have not yet received a graduate-level degree from any institution. Undergraduate and graduate essays will be judged in separate categories.

A Judging Committee will be selected to assess originality, organization, mastery of subject, objectivity, clarity, forcefulness of writing, literary merit and conciseness. The Committee will reserve the right to withhold the prize if no entry meets acceptable standards. The Committee may also award more than one prize for outstanding entries if funds permit. Winning papers will be posted on the Center for Sustainable Forestry at Pack Forest website, and might also be featured on the SEFS blog, “Offshoots,” and in the School’s e-newsletter, The Straight Grain.

Charles Lathrop Pack © SEFS.

Students: Pack Forest Beckons You!

Coming up this spring and summer, SEFS graduate and undergraduate students have a chance to take part in two hallowed traditions down at Pack Forest: the annual spring planting (March 23-27), and the two-month summer crew (June 23 to August 22)!

Check out the two opportunities and application deadlines below; you can apply to either one, or even try for both:

Spring Planting: Why Veg When You Can Plant?
For more than 75 years, students have been putting down roots at Pack Forest, helping to shape it for future generations. This Spring Break, you can leave your own mark by taking part in the annual spring planting, March 23-27!

While staying at Pack Forest, you’ll roll up your sleeves and work on forest establishment, including planting, regeneration surveys and survey reports. Your housing (and some food) will be covered, there’s a kitchen at your disposal, and you’ll even earn a $200 stipend. Two course credits are available, as well.

Contact Professor Greg Ettl to learn more and apply. Preference is given to those who apply before Monday, February 24, so act fast!

Tara Wilson

Tara Wilson, a senior ESRM major, gets into the swing of things as part of the Pack Forest Summer Crew in 2012.

Pack Forest Summer Crew
Every summer, several SEFS students head down to Pack Forest for two months of hands-on field training in forest management. As an intern on the summer crew, your weekends are generally free, so you can venture to a number of local attractions, including nearby Mount Rainier. On top of that, you’ll receive 5 ESRM credit hours to go with a $200 weekly stipend and free housing!

For the 2014 Summer Quarter, which runs from June 23 to August 22, there are five ESRM internship positions available.

Four spots are open for Forest Resource Interns, who will assist with the management and stewardship of Pack Forest’s timber resources, research installations, roads and trails. These students will develop forest mensuration skills, practice species identification, participate in research programs, and learn about sustainable forest management.

One additional position is available for an Outreach & Education Intern, who will actively participate in public outreach, environmental education and natural resource management. This student will develop skills in communications, public outreach and curriculum development, as well as gain exposure to natural resource management.

The deadline to apply is April 9. If you’re interested, send your resume and a cover letter describing how the internship will fit into your program of study to Professor Ettl.

Photo © Tara Wilson.

Meet Wendy Star, the New SEFS Administrator!

With students flooding in and out of classes every day, and researchers cycling in for various projects and seminars, we’re accustomed to seeing unfamiliar faces around the School of Environmental and Forest Sciences (SEFS). But thanks to a handful of hires in the past month, a few of those new faces will soon be regular fixtures in our halls and memories!

One of the newest additions is Wendy Star, who started as SEFS administrator on Monday, November 25. While Star is new to SEFS, she’s been connected to the University of Washington for much of her life, from when she studied business at UW as an undergrad, to her most recent position as administrator for the Department of Sociology.

There’s so much more to her story, of course, and we sat down with Star at the end of her second week to learn a little more and help introduce her to the SEFS community.

Wendy Star

For Wendy Star, UW is a family affair, as both of her daughters also work for the university!

Seattle Roots
Star was born in Wisconsin, but her family moved to Seattle when she was still a baby. Her grandparents had a home in Ballard, and Star grew up playing around the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks, and spending hours exploring the Washington Park Arboretum. “We have lots of pictures of this skinny little kid running around outside,” she says.

These days, though, the tables have turned, and now Star’s shelves and walls are filled with photos of her two young granddaughters. Both of her daughters live in Seattle and work for UW: Jennifer as the curriculum coordinator for the university, and JoAnn as a nurse in labor and delivery at the UW Medical Center. They each have a daughter, and Star says her free time generally revolves around what her granddaughters want to do.

They both started Girl Scouts this year, and Star says she especially loves taking them out on local adventures. “When the weather is nice, we’ll go out in nature and explore,” she says. “One of our favorite things to do is take trips over to Sequim and visit the Olympic Game Farm. You drive through in your car, and you get to see all these animals, buffalo and elk and llamas and yaks, and they come right up to you.”

Book It
Next to the grandkids, one of the easiest ways to get Star gushing is to ask her about what she’s reading. Most mornings, she carpools to campus from Everett with her daughter Jennifer, and then she takes the bus home. That gives her plenty of time to devour all sorts of nonfiction.

She recently finished Last Child in the Woods, which addresses some of the nature deficit many kids are experiencing today, when it’s harder to find open spaces to play outdoors. She doesn’t necessarily recommend that one, but she loved the book before it, The Girl With No Name, by Marina Chapman.

It’s about a 6-year-old girl who grew up in Colombia and was kidnapped. Her abductors ended up leaving her alone into the jungle, where she miraculously survived, in part through the company and protection of monkeys. She’s now grown and has her own daughters, who helped her tell her incredible story. “I couldn’t put it down,” says Star. “It was so fascinating.”

First Impressions
Part of the appeal of the administrator position for Star was the connection to her childhood, and those early days trekking through the Arboretum. She grew up loving these parks and facilities, and now she gets to work on behalf on them.

“I’m excited to learn more about the research our faculty do,” she says, “and to learn about Pack Forest and ONRC and the Botanic Gardens all the centers that are part of SEFS.”

It’s a daunting learning curve, she says, but her first two weeks have been fun, and she’s felt very welcome and at ease. As she familiarizes herself with all the new people and programs in the SEFS community, the hardest part actually might be reminding herself she can’t learn everything overnight—and that all the new science and professors and students are precisely what make the job so exciting. “I’m so tickled to be a part of it!”

You can find Star in Anderson 107D, so feel free to stop by or shoot her an email to introduce yourself!

Photo © SEFS.

“Climate of Change” Video Series Features Pack Forest, UW Farm

The University of Washington Environmental Stewardship & Sustainability office recently released its “Climate of Change” video series, which showcases a variety of sustainability programs, activities and research taking place at UW. Through four half-hour episodes, covering everything from soil to wetlands to recycling, the film series explores a number of projects on campus and at remote facilities—including, in the second episode (“Modeling Sustainability”), Pack Forest and the UW Farm!

The whole episode is very much worth watching (see below), and you can pick up the Pack Forest section about sustainable forestry around the 10th minute. After spending several hours shooting there on a sunny day this past April, the film crew captured some gorgeous footage. The final cut prominently features Professor Greg Ettl, along with a cameo from Julie Baroody, who earned her master’s from SEFS this past summer. (The UW Farm coverage begins shortly afterwards, right around the 20:50 mark, in the final section on the Campus Sustainability Fund.)

The other three episodes include “The University and the World,” “Living the Sustainability Experience,” and “Commitment to the Future.” All four videos are hosted on YouTube and are being aired on UWTV—Channel 27 in the Puget Sound region—on Sundays at 9:30 p.m.

So take a look at a couple of our programs in action!

Video © UW Environmental Stewardship & Sustainability.

A Visit to Vashon Island with Professor Ford

A couple weeks ago, on the first Friday of November, a two-car caravan took off from the School of Environmental and Forest Sciences to catch an early-afternoon ferry out to Vashon Island. With nine graduate students in tow, Professor David Ford was leading the third field trip for his “Principles of Silviculture” course (ESRM 428).

Vashon Island

Professor Ford, leaning on his cane, touring the first of two forest sites on Vashon Island.

The first trip had taken the students to Pack Forest to see estate forestry, and the second involved an overnight on the Olympic Peninsula to explore wet forests and densely seeded, large-scale operations. For this third excursion, the class would be touring two examples of community forestry, where they’d find small plots, some only a few acres in size, individually owned and managed, and with varying objectives depending on the landowner. Their guide for both sites would be Derek Churchill, a former Ph.D. student at SEFS who now lives on Vashon Island and works as a private forestry consultant.

Vashon Island’s history makes it an especially fertile study site for forest management. At the beginning of the 1900s, old-growth forests of hemlock, firs and red cedars covered most of the island. Smaller trees, such as alder, found room in sunnier open areas along with huckleberries and other shrubs. By the 1920s, though, most of the island’s forests had been harvested and cleared. The story went that you could stand on a high point at one end of Vashon and see pretty much across the entire island—roughly 13 miles long and eight miles across at its widest point—unimpeded by any mature trees.

At the time, Vashon was home to a number of Japanese strawberry farms, but starting in the Great Depression, and then on a broader scale as part of Japanese internment during World War II, many of those farms were abandoned. Fields that had been planted and tended were suddenly left on their own. Into that vacuum, fast-seeding alder began taking hold and spreading across the island in the 1940s and ‘50s.

Vashon Island

Churchill, front left, lives on Vashon Island and works as a private forestry consultant.

Today, roughly 15,000 acres, or about 60 percent of Vashon, have returned to forest. A large portion of that regrowth has involved the rise of alder-dominated forests, which, rather surprisingly, can’t naturally regenerate without human interference—and that presents a tremendous opportunity to test management strategies.

In a more diverse forest, and without the unnatural boundaries of neighborhoods and other development, the ecosystem would likely replenish itself. Yet the sudden abandonment of so much cleared land gave alder, once marginalized, an unusual advantage because they seed and grow quickly. They also tend to promote a thick, tangled understory, which largely prevents new trees from taking root. So as the alder age—often beginning their decline after 60 to 70 years—there aren’t new young trees sprouting to take their place.

In turn, if a landowner did nothing to intervene in an alder-dominated forest, eventually the older trees would die and disappear, and, many years later, they’d be left with an overgrown field—but no forest.

That’s where Churchill gets involved. In his role as a forestry consultant, he advises various landowners about how to manage their forest plots, writing prescriptions for long-term planning and timber harvests. His clients have wide-ranging visions for their land, so each prescription is unique to the landowner. One might care most about wildlife viewing, horse trails or general enjoyment of nature. Some might want minimal thinning, maybe 20-30 percent; others are more aggressive and want a higher percentage of aging trees cleared.

Vashon Island

The class tours the second forest site, where taller Douglas-fir are outcompeting Pacific madrone, resulting in some dangerously spindly, leaning and unstable trees.

In most cases, profit is not the primary objective of these harvests. More important for Churchill and the landowner is keeping the forest healthy and sustainable without overly affecting the aesthetic enjoyment of the land. If there’s a harvest here and there to make a little money, that ends up being a nice perk—and these trees definitely have market value. For a long time alder was considered a junk wood, but in the 1990s it started becoming prized for furniture (a single tree, with the right dimensions and age, could be worth more than $1,000).

As Churchill’s work has gained attention and traction around the island, more residents have recognized the importance of actively managing their forests. In fact, to handle an increasing project load more efficiently and sustainably, several years ago Churchill helped found the Vashon Forest Stewards, a nonprofit community forestry business whose mission is to “restore, enhance and maintain healthy native forest ecosystems, and to manage a sustainable ecological business that provides forestry services and island-grown wood products.” The stewards established a local mill, and they also offer educational workshops on forest planning and management, forest ecology and sustainable forestry techniques.

Showing students some of Churchill’s operation and projects, says Professor Ford, is a great way to introduce them to the viability of smaller-scale forestry. With his clients on Vashon, as well as in Seattle and surrounding communities, Churchill isn’t banking on huge harvests for an income. For him, the forests come in smaller patches and plots, and the work is more incremental and less predictable—but it is certainly viable, and plenty creative!

Check out the slideshow below to see more from their trip to Vashon.

Photos © Karl Wirsing/SEFS.

Mount Rainier Institute Welcomes First Students

This past October, after a year of planning and preparation, the Mount Rainier Institute successfully conducted its first two pilot programs down at Pack Forest!

The idea first germinated with Professor Greg Ettl and the National Park Service several years ago. Since those early meetings, one of the driving forces behind the program has been John Hayes, environmental education program manager at Pack Forest. Working in close partnership with the park service and the School of Environmental and Forest Sciences, Hayes has been drawing up the blueprint for a residential environmental learning center that uses the natural and cultural resources of Mount Rainier National Park and Pack Forest to nurture the next generation of environmental stewards and leaders.

Kevin Bacher/NPS

Students from Sequoyah Middle School in Federal Way conduct forest surveys around Pack Forest.

The program would invite school students from all backgrounds—and especially from diverse communities with limited access to parks and other natural spaces—to spend three nights at Pack Forest.

With hands-on experiments and projects within Pack and at Mount Rainier, the goal would be for students to explore science and nature, build confidence in being outdoors, generate interest in careers involving resource management, and generally cultivate a greater appreciation for resource management, national parks and the environment.

Taking Root
After so much work getting the curriculum ready for a test run, Hayes and other project partners were especially excited to welcome the first pilot group from First Creek Middle School in Tacoma—22 students, mostly 7th and 8th graders, and their teachers, Donna Chang and Deb Sanford—for a three-night stay at Pack Forest.

They arrived on October 14, and because of the government shutdown at the time, they were not allowed to visit Mount Rainier until their final morning. But the students had plenty to keep them busy in and around Pack Forest. They visited Alder Dam on the Nisqually River to see hydroelectric power in action, practiced taking photos in the forest, wrote poems, did other journaling and cultural projects, and also conducted a few forest ecology experiments. One group, for instance, looked at plant diversity in old growth compared to younger forests, while another compared wildlife between the two forest types, including doing bird surveys.

“What was special about that is they really went through the scientific process,” says Hayes. “They were given a question in the morning, developed a hypothesis, came up with some methods, collected and analyzed data, and then gave a presentation at the end of the day. They had a great time with it!”

Kevin Bacher/NPS

With three overnights at Pack Forest, each group got to spend plenty of time around the campfire.

And that was just while the sun was shining. In the evenings, in addition to enjoying campfires and songs, students learned about the history of the region, from the park service to local tribes and other historical figures, like Fay Fuller, who in 1890 became the first woman to summit Mount Rainier. On the second night, they presented their research findings at the science symposium, and on their final night they went for a night hike to explore adaptations of nocturnal animals—and also how humans react to low visibility. “It was really exciting for a lot of them to be out in the woods without flashlights,” says Hayes.

A week later, the second group, led by teachers Dan Borst and Amy Heritage, arrived from Sequoyah Middle School in Federal Way. Their experience was similar to the first group, except this time Mount Rainier National Park was fully open again, so students got to talk to park staff, visit Paradise and experience much more of the mountain. “For many of them, it was the first time they’d been to the park, and that was a pretty amazing experience,” says Hayes.

Greatly enhancing that experience were several folks from Mount Rainier National Park, starting with Park Superintendent Randy King, who has been a strong supporter from the beginning. “Our National Park Service partners were working along with us shoulder to shoulder throughout the program,” says Hayes, including education specialist Brandi Stewart, education program manager Fawn Bauer, and volunteer program manager Kevin Bacher (who took the wonderful photos featured in this story!), as well as Casey Overturf and Maureen McLean.

Another important component of the curriculum was teaching the kids about different ecosystem services nature provides, from forest products to recreation, building houses and providing jobs, cultural, spiritual and other aesthetic functions. One of the most poignant demonstrations to that effect involved doing a timber cruise and calculating the value of a stand of timber. “That was a real eye-opener for a lot of them,” says Hayes. “They never thought about how valuable forest products are to people, and how much, in a practical sense, it’s worth to cut down and harvest timber. That was contrasted throughout the week with other choices we make in managing our resources.”

Kevin Bacher/NPS

Students didn’t just get to conduct experiments in the forest. On the second night, they got to present their findings at a science symposium.

Early Returns
“Given that it was pilot, nothing was perfect,” says Hayes. “We actually only did about a quarter of what we had planned to do, and there are a lot of things we will change and refine in the future. But the teachers were very positive about the experience, and many of them are already trying to organize a trip to come back next year, which is what we’re hoping for.”

Yet for a program designed to train and inspire the next generation of environmental stewards, perhaps the most promising result of the pilots was the enthusiastic reaction from the students. By the end of their few days at Pack Forest, many were openly wishing they could stay longer or come back in the summer. And in interviews with students afterwards, a number of them expressed—nearly verbatim—the messages planners hoped they’d take home.

As one student said of the overall experience: “Now that I have done this Sequoyah to Mount Rainier Institute test run thing, I won’t look at the mountain the same. I used to just look at the mountain like it was just there, and it didn’t like mean anything. But now that I’ve like actually been there and done this, I’ll like always remember the things I’ve done and that I also want to come back here, but I don’t think I can because I’m going into high school. But I want to go back to Mount Rainier someday, and I actually want to climb to the top.”

Kevin Bacher/NPS

For many students, this was their first visit to Mount Rainier, and they had a great time exploring the mountain (and having snowball fights, of course).

Or as another student reflected on the science projects they completed and presented at the symposium: “I liked that we put purpose to what we did. We didn’t just do it and forget about it. We like actually did something when we got back, so it wasn’t like we were just doing it, we did something with it.”

That kind of feedback has Hayes and the rest of the institute team fired up to get the program fully up and running. They’re hoping to kick off the first full season in the fall of 2014, with the target of reaching about 1,000 students in that first year.

“It’s a daunting goal,” says Hayes, “but one we’re going to push hard to try to make happen!”

Want to learn more or get involved? Contact Hayes today!

All photos © Kevin Bacher/NPS.

Photy by Kevin Bacher/NPS

Into the Woods!

Last weekend, 20 graduate students spent two nights camping as part of their first Forest Community Ecology (SEFS 501) field trip. The course—co-taught by Christina Restaino and Alina Cansler, who are both working toward their Ph.Ds at SEFS—focuses on gaining a deeper understanding of forest composition in the Pacific Northwest, on both the east and west sides of the Cascade Range. There’s a strong emphasis on information gathering and analysis of ecological data, as well as on scientific writing and communication.

SEFS 501For this initial excursion—the first of two this quarter—the class headed to Blewett Pass (elevation 4,100 feet) on the east side of the Cascades. As part of their ecosystem assessments, students walked and collected data and measurements along three 20-meter transects at different elevations. Their goal was to catalog the forest composition of the understory and overstory, and they’ll use that data in their analysis assignments later in the course.

Despite getting rained for most of the three days of research and camping, the class remained incredibly upbeat and motivated, says Restaino. “We set up a tarp city, and everybody was a trooper!”

The next field trip is coming up on October 11 and 12, when the class will head down to Pack Forest and Mount Rainier National Park (shutdown permitting). For this foray on the west side of the Cascades, students will focus more on stand structure and overstory communities. They’ll also get to stay one night at Pack Forest, where they can rely on some shelter even if weather conditions don’t cooperate!

Photos and Slideshow © Christina Restaino.