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A trip to the USA for experience exchange in the Field of Environmental Education - 2013 (By E. Golovan, L. Kameneva).

International Exchange Program in the Field of Environmental Education
Seattle, USA
Golovan E., Kameneva L.

From July 22 to August 9 two researchers from Botanical Garden-Institute FEB RAS (BGI) Ekaterina Golovan and Luibov Kameneva participated in an international exchange program of environmental education in Seattle, USA.

The program’s mission: exchange in the field of environmental education of schoolchildren and assimilate new approaches to study children engaged in the study of nature for improving BGI educational programs.
During our trip we visited a number of environmental organizations, e.g.: Islandwood, Brightwater, Mercer Wood, Botanical Gardens and Washington Park Arboretum of University of Washington, Mercer Slough Nature Park, Bellevue Botanical Garden, Bloedel Reserve, Ballard Locks, Olympic National Park, Washington Trails Association.

Islandwood (BainBridge Island)

IslandWood is a non-profit outdoor learning center which was founded in 2002. Located on Bainbridge Island near Seattle in Washington State, IslandWood is a unique 255-acre outdoor learning center designed to provide exceptional learning experiences and inspire lifelong environmental and community stewardship.
The main programs of Islandwood are:

  • The School Overnight Program is a core program of IslandWood. The four-day program serves 4-6th grade students from communities throughout the Puget Sound region. The program includes outdoor activities, education games, laboratory experiments and creativeness. IslandWood's educators combine scientific inquiry, technology, and the arts to help students discover natural connections with the outdoors.
  • A ten-month Graduate Program is also offered at the University of Washington. During their time at IslandWood, graduate students take courses in a variety of topics while guiding outdoor experiences for a diverse population of elementary school students, primarily from nearby Seattle.
  • Community programs are offered for all ages, including spring & summer camps, day programs, and family weekends.

During our study in IslandWood we took part in summer camp program and acquired new knowledge and experience to study how children connect with nature. Also we had interviews with President and CEO of Islandwood Ben Klasky, senior faculty for natural history education Karen Salsbury, senior vice president for education John Haskin, school overnight program coordinator Danny Moloney, graduate program coordinator Theresa Song, event and summer camps coordinator Blair Griffin, philanthropy officer Jeannie Patterson, senior manager - marketing and communications Thatcher Heldring.

We also shared with staff and docents of Islandwood our own Russian experience in the field of environmental education and delivered slide show presentations: «Environmental Education at the Botanical Garden-Institute FER RAS» and «Environmental Programs at the Botanical Garden-Institute FEB RAS».

Brightwater (Woodinville)

The Brightwater Center is located near Bothell and Woodinville in Snohomish County. The center is a clean water interpretive facility provided to educate and motivate the public to environmental stewardship and to build a sense of community. The Brightwater Treatment Plant and Center are a bridge linking existing educational, research, professional and apprenticeship programs with the construction and operation of new wastewater facilities.
The main prgrams:

  • School programs. Brightwater has partnered with IslandWood, to offer programs for local schools. All school field trip programs are free and include hands-on activities and/or field investigations.
  • Summer programs. Brightwater has partnered with IslandWood, to offer summer day camp programs.
  • Treatment plant tours. Tours encourage visitors to think about responsible water use, the products they use and how everyday choices can help protect Puget Sound. Tours are available for community groups, scout groups, home school groups, university students, professional groups, and international visitors.

Durind our visit to Brightwater Center we took the Treatment Plant tour and took part in summer programs.

University of Washington (Seattle)

University of Washington (UW) is a public research university in Seattle, Washington. Founded in 1861, UW is one of the oldest universities on the West Coast. At UW we visited the Burke Museum, Herbarium, Greenhouse, Medicinal Herb Garden, Center for Urban Horticulture, Japanese Garden, Botanical Gardens and Washington Park Arboretum.

Washington Park Arboretum, University of Washington (Seattle)

The Arboretum is a hidden gem on the shores of Lake Washington. Jointly managed by UW and the City of Seattle, its 230 acres are a dynamic assortment of plants found nowhere else. The Graham Visitors Center contains an information desk and a gift shop managed by the Arboretum Foundation. The main plant collections of the Arboretum are: Asiatic maples, Hybrid rhododendrons. Azaleas, Magnolia family,etc. In the Washington Park Arboretum's Pacific Connections Garden one will find amazing plants from five countries connected by the Pacific Ocean.

With help of the Arboretum educational programs children could travel through Cascadia, Australia, China, Chile and New Zealand in one day and learn more about plants of these countries.

Bellevue Botanical Garden (Seattle)

The Bellevue Botanical Garden is an urban refuge, encompassing 53-acres of cultivated gardens, restored woodlands, and natural wetlands. The living collections showcase plants that thrive in the Pacific Northwest.

Bloedel Reserve (BainBridge Island)

The Bloedel Reserve is an internationally renowned public garden and forest preserve. The Reserve’s 150 acres are a unique blend of natural woodlands and beautifully landscaped gardens, including a Japanese Garden, a Moss Garden, a Reflection Pool and the Bloedels’ former estate home.

Ballard Locks (Seattle)

Officially known as the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks, the Ballard Locks is one of Seattle’s most popular tourist attractions, especially during the sunny months. The grounds also feature a fish ladder and the Carl S. English Jr. Botanical Garden — one of the most beautiful park settings in Seattle.
Through a system of swinging walkways, visitors can watch the action up close. The locks are a critical link for salmon and steelhead heading upstream to spawn. A fish ladder with 21 steps or “weirs” allows spawning fish to climb to the freshwater side. Young fish, or “smolts” then return down through the locks out to Puget Sound.

Mercer Slough National Park (Bellevue)

Nestled in the heart of Bellevue, the 320-acre Mercer Slough Nature Park offers a tranquil setting for a variety of recreational experiences: biking, hiking, canoeing, blueberry picking, and environmental education. The Mercer Slough is Lake Washington’s largest remaining wetland, containing hundreds of plant species and an abundance of water resources. The park provides a diverse habitat for over 170 species of wildlife. Interconnected boardwalks, soft surface trails, and asphalt paths transport visitors through this unique urban wetland. An educational center was organized in the national park and located in eco-friendly buildings.

Olimpic National Park

In Olympic National Park we visited Hurricane Ridge, over a mile high. We enjoyed spectacular views of mountains, wildflowers, deer, and other wildlife, and took part in interesting day hike.

Washington Trails Association

We had pleasure to take part in reconstruction of a trail in the Cascade Mountains. It was a volunteer action organized by Washington Trails Association. The group of almost 20 volunteers worked for 6 hours removing weeds along the trail and building a bridge across a small ravine.

Also there was a meeting with Nancy Fisher-Allison and Diane Sophusson of Schmitz Park Elementary School about continuing and expanding US participation in the annual environmental festival "Rhododendron Day" organized by the Vladivostok BGI.

During our trip in the USA we visited a number of educational centers, environmental organizations, botanical gardens, museums and national parks. We learned more about outdoor activities and had a great training for teaching children. We plan to use acquired knowledge and experience to improve BGI educational programs, which would help children of Vladivostok and Primorsky Krai to cope with the deplorable situation of the environment and forest degradation, to take part in outdoor activities and simply to enjoy a great time.

We genuinely appreciate the help of our friends and colleges from the USA in organizing our trip from July 21 to August 9, 2013 in Washington State, USA.
On behalf of the BGI FER RAS, we would like to thank:
Dr. Walter Pereyra and Mr. Stowe Talbot for financial support of this trip as well as the BGI Russian-American educational programs during the last four years;
Anthony Allison for initiation and support of our educational programs, for organizing the main aspects of our trip, for our opportunity to meet remarkable people and to visit magnificent places;
Specialists from Islandwood for our new experience in the field of environmental education, and special thanks to Karen Salsbury for organizing the schedule of the trip, and for her kindness and participation;
Specialists from Bright Water , Mercer Wood and the University of Washington for fascinating outings and sharing educational experience;
Specialists from Washington Park Arboretum, especially Patrick Mulligan for the special tours at the Arboretum and the Botanical Garden;
Volunteers from Washington Trails Association for the experience of ecological trail building;
Sarah and Kris Merner , and Sally Kentch , for kind support and hospitality;
Nancy Fisher-Allison and Diane Sophusson of Schmitz Park Elementary School for hospitality and meeting about continuing and expanding US in the BGI protects;
Volunteers Dana Thompson , Bill Turner , Joyce Rudolph , and other kind and energetic people for their help in organizing trips to botanical gardens, national parks, environmental centers.

More information about environmental organizations of Washington State:
Islandwood: www.islandwood.org
Bright Water: http://www.kingcounty.gov/environment/brightwater-center.aspx
University of Washington: http://www.washington.edu/
Botanical Gardens (University of Washington): http://depts.washington.edu/uwbg/
Mercer Slough Nature Park: www.ci.bellevue.wa.us/mercer_slough.htm
Bellevue Botanical Garden: http://www.bellevuebotanical.org/
Bloedel Reserve: http://www.bloedelreserve.org
Ballard Locks: http://www.myballard.com/ballard-locks-seattle/
Olimpic National Park: http://www.olympicnationalparks.com/
Washington Trails Association: http://www.wta.org/

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