Saturday, January 29, 2011

Taking the Reins on Research

Brownie gives a thumbs-up to research in the bog!
EEC Grads have been conducting new and exciting field investigations over the past few months. As part of our Natural History and Ecology course, we chose a topic that we wanted to learn more about - and with the help of our teachers Karen and Greg (and many other people, in some cases!) we have designed field studies to [attempt to] answer questions relating to these varying subjects.

A rare peek at Mac's Pond from the north end
Some areas of study include coyote scat, most frequently seen mushrooms on campus, IW's bog (or is it a bog?), otter tracking, and Pacific chorus frogs, just to name a few. We have come across challenges, successes, and in most cases, several changes. 

Bog enthusiasts Christina and James help with field work
This particular blog entry features photos from two investigations. Laura Goff, Lauren Brown, and Amanda Zvirblis are studying the plants in IslandWood's "bog" to determine if indeed it is a true bog. (Word on the street says it may be a phen!!) Ali Parizer and Kathie Bradford are tracking river otters and collecting scat by Mac's Pond. 
Laura records data
Amanda shows off her makeshift waterproofing
Footsteps in a unique sphagnum ecosystem
Bonnie saves the day!
Team Bog, wet and happy!
Now for some otter investigations...

Kathie is all smiles....
...even in ankle deep muck!
"Presenting to you...otter poo!"
Ali scoops some otter scat into a bag!
Kathie takes photos of all the excitement!
What's for dinner?
Some grads have been getting so into their research that there are thoughts to extend Natural History projects into Independent Study Projects for Spring Quarter. It will be exciting to see these inquiries unfold!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

IW Goes on a Field Trip!

Ali splashes around in the Cascades
Last weekend, IslandWood grads took a trip to the North Cascades Institute (NCI) to rendezvous with NCI, Wilderness Awareness School (WAS), and Olympic Park Institute (OPI) grads. We met some great people and got some new perspectives in environmental education.

The action began on the drive up into the Cascades. We stopped to relish the beauty of a roadside waterfall.

A lovely detour!

Chuck, a true wilderness man

Amanda and Lauren enjoy a refreshing mist  

Waterfalls bring out Chris' animal instincts
Once at NCI, we unpacked our bags and toured the campus. We then had a lovely, fresh, local, and delicious burrito dinner. Lauren surprised the group with her famous rendition of "Oreo, Oreo, Oreo Cookie!" during dessert - which indeed included Oreos. Dinner was followed by some fun ice-breaker games!

Establishing our sense of place

Lauren wows the crowd. Here she is singing/yelling the line: "Rip off the top and lick out the middle!"
We're such a supportive community

Showing off some skills during group challenges
The games continue
Unwinding after a long day

The next day, IW grads joined the other groups in breakout sessions. We learned more about identifying plants in the winter, the history of Ross Dam (and photography too!), animal tracking, the art of being a naturalist, and nature journaling. The rain wouldn't slow down - but we made the most of it!

Getting a closer look at some tracks in the snow
 A foggy look at Diablo Lake

Really excited about Ross Dam!

The view below was spectacular!

Afternoon sessions went on while keeping a close eye on flooding and the possibility of landslides. Afterwards, half of the IslandWood crew decided not to test their luck and left before nightfall. It earned them an award for "Most Responsible". 

Sourdough Creek gushes!

All IW'ers  got home safely! The group that stayed the extra night were able to get to know the other grads a bit more, had a campfire and learned some new songs, and during the awards ceremony Chuck earned "Best Pants". The rest of the group earned "Sticking it Out".

   Music jam on the last night
The pants that earned Chuck his award. (Corduroy, patchwork and camouflage - in case you couldn't tell)
Some of the obstacles faced on the way home:
Fallen rocks (ie. mini-boulders)
Puddles (ie. mini-ponds) 
Team Brave show off their "Sticking it Out" award!
All things considered, the weekend was a success! Grads got to connect with like-minded, caring, and fun individuals. In February, IslandWood will visit the Wilderness Awareness school. Shortly after, the grads from these amazing environmental education centers will get to visit our campus - where we will get to show them all of the great things that have made IslandWood grads feel that there is nowhere in the world they would rather be.

*Grads have been working hard on projects for our Natural History class. Stay tuned as we let you in on some of the exciting field work being done!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Get to Know a Grad!

Editor's Note: This is the second installment of the semi-regular Get to Know a Grad feature! Enjoy!

Name: Danny Moloney

Hometown: Olympia, WA

Undergraduate University/Degree:  Ecology, The Evergreen State College

What brought you to IslandWood?  I wanted to learn how to be a phenomenal educator that worked to empower youth and protect the environment.

What is your favorite thing about IslandWood so far?
  The acres and acres of wild trails and the wildlife. Oh, I love the teams course too!

What is your favorite thing about Bainbridge Island/Seattle/The Puget Sound so far?
  I love riding the ferry and being near a large salty body of water.  The views of the Cascade and Olympic ranges are out of this world as well.

Who would you want to play you in the movie version of your life?
Johnny Depp or maybe Meg Ryan.

Quick! Someone gave you 100 bagazillion dollars! What do you do with it?  Protect wildlands, help underprivileged groups of people get the housing, food and education that they deserve, and buy a horse ranch.

Who do you most admire and why?  One person I admire is Jane Goodall for continuing to keep hope despite all she has seen that could easily push her to give up on her work and live in hopelessness.  There are thousands more people that I admire though.  I admire the kids that come to IslandWood. They are pretty remarkable.

What do you think you might do after IslandWood?  I would like to work at an outdoor environmental education center.

Monday, January 17, 2011

New Year, New Cohorts, New Experiences

Hello 2011!

We here at IslandWood are getting back into the swing of things and are very excited to see what this year has to offer.

Last week we team taught the students of Horizon Elementary.  It was a nice way to dive back into to SOP before dividing up into our new Cohorts.  Cohort C is going to teach this week while Cohort D works on projects, visits Liaison schools and gets a jump start on readings for class!

The students last week had a unique opportunity.  Lukas Allenbaugh of the Clay Animation Network was on campus teaching the students all about the art of Claymation.  The theme of the week was food and four field groups got to create characters, develop a story, and film scenes depicting the story of how a pizza is made.  Check out the kids video:

Some of the instructors (including myself) didn't want to miss out on this opportunity.  We stayed up pretty late after the kids were back in the lodges for night working on our own masterpiece:

Lets just say that we had a LOT of fun.  I have a totally new found respect for Claymation- it isn't easy!

Roxann made a video as well but that might have to wait for another week...

Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day!  Talk to you soon!