Three weeks in greater Seattle exploring the urban jungle through four fundamental themes that will echo throughout the summer experience:
Biodiversity – urban green space and the urban-rural gradient: Discovering the diversity of life in Seattle’s green spaces, understanding the impacts of local landscaping decisions across an urban-rural gradient, examining fragmentation and connectivity, and discovering the impacts of domesticated and naturalized animals on wild urban biodiversity. This theme will explore the ways in which biodiversity enriches and supports human communities, and how changes in human behavior can support, or destroy, biological richness.
Food – urban farms and local food: Connecting with city community gardens and immigrant farmers, how food choice helps or hurts urban biodiversity, mapping the sources of food in city grocery stores, tracing compost from urban collection to application, learning about edible walls and green roofs at the UW Center for Urban Horticulture, and comparing production on regional organic and conventional farms. This theme explores the food-shed, and its implications for environmental justice and public health.
Water – wild to city to wild: Tracing the Seattle water supply from its source in the wild Cedar River watershed to the processing, storage, and distribution in the city, to the treatment and release of wastewater in the highly-polluted Duamish River, the site of traditional fishing for the Muckleshoot Tribal Nation. This theme will expose how biodiversity - native and introduced - affects and is affected by water supply along this unique urban watershed, and the intersection between water-related ecosystem services, public health, and environmental justice.
Climate – adapting to rising seas, big rains, and lost snow: An introduction to the potential impacts of climate on Seattle and its environs, including our mountains and food-growing plains. This theme explores urban and rural adaptation and mitigation options, heat island impacts in rich versus poor neighborhoods, white roofs in a green city, creating wildlife corridors, and developing an understanding of the link between climate and life.
Just 68 miles from the UW campus, DDSCP@UW will spend one week at the Pack Forest Experimental Station – 4,250 acres from new plantations to mature forest. The station is less than 30 minutes away from Mt. Rainier National Park – 235,000 acres of wilderness including the most glaciated peak in the contiguous United States, old growth forests to alpine meadows, and over 1,000 species of flora and fauna. Here we will explore old-growth and working forest ecosystems, documenting patterns and exploring explanations for abundance and diversity. At Mt. St. Helens National Park, only an hour south, we will explore disturbance, succession, and resilience at an active volcano site.
Located in Forks, Washington on the Olympic Peninsula, scholars and mentors will spend one week at the Olympic Natural Resources Center – a living-learning base from which we will travel to Olympic National Park to visit the Hoh Rainforest, one of the last and largest remaining temperate rainforests in the United States with giant Sitka spruce, endangered spotted owls, and reintroduced fisher. Here we will explore the role of water in a pristine, old-growth watershed. At the Elwha River, a landmark restoration project involving removal of two dams to re-establish free-flowing Pacific salmon habitat, we will explore issues of water management and river restoration, the iconic and threatened Pacific salmon, and the people who have long depended on and stewarded these waters and lands – the Skokomish, Quinault, Hoh, Quileute, and Makah.
Built adjacent to Diablo Dam, the North Cascades Institute is tucked into the largest remaining intact wildland in the contiguous United States – the Greater North Cascades Ecosystem, including North Cascades National Park, the Stephen Mather Wilderness, and Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest. Here students will spend a week exposed to the reality of climate change in the wild. Our explorations will take us to alpine meadows where tree line is shifting, glaciers are retreating, and spring is coming earlier. We will explore issues of connectivity, resilience, changing forest composition, and insect outbreaks and fire.
The Moses Coulee Field Station, owned and operated by The Nature Conservancy, provides DDCSP@UW with our 4th field week. Sitting in an oasis of sagebrush steppe embedded in a sea of wheat fields, Moses Coulee is home to sage grouse, black-tailed jackrabbits, Washington ground squirrels, western rattlesnakes and some of the last remaining habitat for pygmy rabbits in Washington. Here we will explore issues of habitat fragmentation, fire dynamics, and water withdrawals as well as solutions that include reintroductions, connectivity planning, and restoration. Community connections will include both Native Americans (Yakama Nation) and migrant farm workers.
In the final week we will return to Seattle to synthesize insights and experiences across the wild-urban continuum, present work to friends and family, and create individualized career plans for the next step in conservation leadership.
Conservation Conversations: Thinking something didn’t work or doesn’t make sense? Have an insight to share with the group? Feel the need to give a shout out to someone who really rocked the week? Conservation Conversations is our weekly talking circle to bring it up, put it out there, and make it work.
Career Connections: What is a “conservation professional?” Can you really get a job saving the world? Actually, you can. In Career Connections we’ll network with amazing, creative people – scientists, managers, writers, artists, politicians and activists - who make their living making a difference.
Career Skills: Want a career in conservation? Sometimes getting in is about fitting in. Sometimes getting in is about standing out. Most times getting in is about knowing your stuff and practicing. Career Skills is our safe space to try out your writing, speaking and networking skills.
Science Communication: Blog it, tweet it, sing it, spin it, write it, say it, draw it, film it. To make yourself heard, you need to know your stuff, know your audience, and make a compelling story that resonates. Science Communication workshops let you practice the skills and find your voice in conservation.