Anna Reflects on the Summer Season

I heard a lot of talk this year about the concept and initiative called “Every Kid in a Park.” It sounded great to me, I pictured all these fourth-graders being excited to go with their families to the most well-known of National Parks, and teaching them facts about the place in the long car ride there. Continue reading

Meeting the Secretary of the Interior!

The sun was out and the temperature was quickly rising. Groups of children in matching green t-shirts squirmed in their seats as camp counselors smeared sunscreen and led games to keep them occupied. Familiar camp songs drifted across Seward Park flooding my mind with memories of my own summer camp experiences in South Carolina. We were all eagerly awaiting the arrival of the U.S. Secretary of the Interior, Sally Jewell. Continue reading

Sketching Through Olympic NP

A couple weeks ago, my natural history class took a field trip out to the Olympic Peninsula, to do some observations in various places with different types of landscapes. I, along with my fellow University of Washington classmates, spent our weekend in three primary locations: Lake Crescent, Salt Creek, and Hurricane Ridge. Our assignment was to practice species ID (mainly plants), nature sketching, and photography.  Although these were assigned academic activities, the adventure made me realize that sketching and taking pictures while hiking isn’t solely an academic endeavor; it can be enjoyable for anyone at any time. Hiking and sketching in the natural world is no new phenomenon; a lot of what we know about field biology today comes from the sketches of people like Lewis and Clark, Muir, Audubon, and many more. My goal for the remainder of this piece is to guide you along a tour of the Olympic Peninsula, and perhaps inspire you to take your own sketching and photography tour into nature as well.

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On Language, Symbolism and Connection

Recently, I took my first trip to the University of Washington’s Henry Art Gallery, as a part of the In My Backyard team. The entire building is currently reserved for a single show: Ann Hamilton: the common SENSE. Hamilton’s exhibits center on the IMG_0431theme of ‘touch’ particularly as that touch is represented through language and text. She explores the ways in which we ‘touch’ or connect with one another, with our surroundings in the world, and (through text excerpts), with people whom we have never met, and probably never will. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the show is its interactive nature. Interspersed throughout the gallery are copies of selected passages from written works, with the common theme being connections, physical or otherwise. Visitors are encouraged to take with them copies of the passages that speak most strongly to them, or with which they feel the strongest connections; they create a “commonplace book” of their own, thereby perpetuating the connection with the show, even after having left the physical building.

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Early Environmental Education & Lasting Impressions

When I was in the fifth grade in California, I went with the rest of my class to a week-long, sleep-away science camp/outdoor school called Walden West; it was adjacent to and loosely affiliated with the local Sanborn County Park. This was one of the most exciting things about being a fifth grader at my elementary school—the opportunity to trade in a week of sitting in the classroom for five glorious days of traipsing through the redwood forest, making new friends and learning about the natural world. For many of us, it was our first time away from our parents for such an extended period of time, so the teachers and Walden West staff placed great emphasis on bonding with other students and just getting us out into the forest, to distract us from thinking about being away from home for so long.

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Place of Pulse

Pacific waves crashed into caves as they have for thousands of years towards Cape Flattery, Washington. Outside the car, my mother and I, two city slickers, surrendered to the surrounding senses that enticed us down the trail. This was our final stretch to reaching the missing puzzle piece; piece of mind and peace within place. We found freedom on the most northwesterly edge of the contiguous United States.

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Stand in the Place Where You Are: Our Connections to the Places We Experience

As part of our project for Autumn 2014, Kelsey asked us each to think about the concept of ‘sense of place:’ to pick a particular place that holds some special meaning to us individually, and then write a blurb about what that place is and why it’s so important to us.

In a letter to the US Government in the mid-1800s, Chief Seattle (the Native American tribal leader for whom our great city is named) remarked “as we are a part of the land, you too are a part of the land. This earth is precious to us. It is also precious to you.” A statement such as this is one that transcends historical bounds. It was written under a particular set of circumstances at a specific period in history, but by no means does that make it irrelevant today. We connect just as much with the land today as we did 150 years ago, and we can use ‘sense of place’ as a way to talk about these connections.

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Summer Lessons and Memories

This summer has been an adventure and a learning experience. As an avid hiker, spending my summer exploring and researching National Parks and other natural and cultural sites in Washington is a dream come true. I was not only fortunate enough to travel to multiple parks and sites in Washington State, but also gain a thorough understanding of the opportunities available for youth in the Evergreen State (most of which I did not know about when I was a “youth” myself). Although the number of opportunities that were available at parks and cultural sites amazed me, I realized that there are several components that hinder middle and high school-age students from accessing these opportunities.

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Beneath a Canopy of Light

I absolutely adore living in the city. Honestly, I do not believe that I could thrive in any rural town. I crave the sounds of traffic and the sense that opportunity can be found around every corner. Though I may not get my wish, I hope to always live in a big city. However, there is one thing that I love that cannot be found in the city: stars. Sure, on a clear night you can see a smattering of stars across the city sky, but it is nothing compared to the night sky found away from the city.

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