Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Get to know a grad!

What a musical group of grad students we're learning we have! This is an episode of our series of audio snapshots featuring grad students. Today the spotlight is on Sarah Berkley! In addition to sharing a bit about her journey and goals, Sarah serenades us to a special IslandWood song we instructors sing to our students at the end of their weeks. The fact is we should also serenade Sarah today because it's her birthday! Happy birthday, Sarah! Listeners, enjoy her voice!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Get to know a grad!

This is the second episode in a series of audio snapshots of our grad students. Meet Brian Marienfeld! Brian rocks out with his trumpet and banjo AND tells us a little bit about himself. What a treat! Enjoy!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Snowed In

Because of our glorious three-day weekend in the North Cascades, sparkly white snow was certainly in our hearts and on our minds. There is something entirely magical about a thick, white blanket of snow enveloping the landscape—perhaps it’s the soft silence that it provides, the beauty and uniqueness in each flake, or the prospect of snow angel making. Whatever the fascination, snow was in our conversations and Mother Nature listened. Over the past few days, about six inches of fluffy powder fell on Bainbridge Island, transforming IslandWood into a true winter wonderland. Because of the already green, lush forest, the snow-blanketed woods were more inviting than ever. And, the grads weren’t the only ones who rejoiced in this change of weather: we were joined by a group of 5th and 6th grade students from the Seattle area. Our first student group in the snow, favorite activities of the week included tracking animals and discovering that birds do leave footprints in the snow, unearthing mushrooms on rotting logs under layers of snow and ice, and taking wintery strolls down the Spine Trail. As a special bonus, giving 100 10-year-olds a dream come true, they were snowed in and had to stay an extra night. Before the Seattle rain washed it all away, we snapped some pictures of this magical time on campus.  
 Arriving on campus to snow!
 The snowy Spine Trail
 A wintery walk in the woods
 The grads built a fort!
 Snow-covered grad cabins
  "It heaps its powdery
Crystal flakes,
Of every tree
A mountain makes"
-From Snow by Walter de la Mare

Heading to the Mountains

To close out the fall quarter, in December grads from North Cascades Institute (NCI) and Wilderness Awareness School (WAS) came to IslandWood for a three-day professional development conference to learn from and share with each other. All outdoor educators, we swapped songs to use in the field, exchanged creative lesson ideas, and explored IslandWood’s ecosystems. Last weekend, the same group congregated in the beautiful North Cascades, with the NCI grads as our gracious hosts. Their campus had just experienced the first snowfall of the winter, and arriving to this winter wonderland was purely “magical.” For three cozy days, we enjoyed the snow-capped landscape and company of fellow outdoor educators, where highlights included mountainous hikes, discovering cougar tracks in the snow, and venturing to Diablo Lake. We all benefitted from a mountainous getaway with some new friends in many ways, including the following:

“It was great to have some time for longer conversations with WAS and NCI students.  We share so many similarities and have so much to learn from each other; I only wish we had been there for a few more days to connect.  WAS students have some amazing wildlife stories and I learned a lot about the Cascades and Skagit River valley from NCI grads.” –Selena

“Being outside in the snow helped me get in a relaxed mindset. I became more comfortable in the snow, which I needed when teaching in the snowstorm at IslandWood this week.” –Lily

“It was nice to spend more time hanging out with the NCI and WAS grads, playing games at night and getting to know them a bit more on a personal level.” –Liz
  From the lookout on Diablo East hike, looking down on Diablo Lake under the Seattle City Light power lines. 
 A breathtaking mountain view from Ted
 Hiking in the mountains
 Eating lunch by the lake
 Gazing at the beautiful view

Monday, January 9, 2012

New Year, New Faces

After a restful two-week break, we welcomed each other back to IslandWood for another quarter of learning and teaching.  And part of our reintroduction to this space we are calling “home” for now included meeting the other residents of IslandWood, ones who reveled in our absence. These are the creatures of the day and night who, in the quiet stillness of the forest, could sense that we were all away for the holiday break. Luckily, technology has made it possible for us to “meet” these silent residents. This week as part of our Natural History class, we set out to recover images from three camera traps that instructors Stan and Greg had set over the break. The cameras, placed on trees in three different locations, are motion-triggered and can capture nighttime images with an infrared flash. Back inside, we anxiously awaited the results, hoping for glimpses of the other mammals who also call IslandWood “home.” We ooo-ed and aaah-ed as we scrolled through the pictures and were fascinated to see actual images of the creatures from whom we normally only find tracks and scat. It served as a potent reminder that although we often claim this space as “ours” we are merely visitors in others’ territory.
Here are some of the favorites:
 A river otter on the Marsh Loop Trail
 Raccoon on the Marsh Loop Trail
 Not sure what to think about the camera...
 Cheese! A deer posing
 The most exciting: a coyote!
 Strange creatures indeed