North Cascades Institute


Mission Statement

North Cascades Institute inspires and empowers environmental stewardship for all through transformative educational experiences in nature.


Since 1986, North Cascades Institute has helped connect people, nature and community through science, art, literature and the hands-on study of the natural and cultural history of the Pacific Northwest. Our goal is to help people of all ages experience and enjoy the mountains, rivers, forests, people and wildlife of the Pacific Northwest – so all will care for and protect this special place.
Through your generosity, we are sharing this wonderful wild place with people of all ages, backgrounds and abilities. Thank you for creating and supporting the environmental stewards of tomorrow!
"As an Environmental Educator, mother and now grandmother, I have seen how important North Cascade Institute’s youth programs are. Our children and grandchildren are able to connect with the natural world at a deep, long lasting level through these cutting edge programs. They also learn about the environmental issues that are rapidly changing our world so that as they become voters and consumers they are able to make informed, thoughtful decisions.” — Lee Whitford, Program Participant, Volunteer and Supporter

Program Details

Youth Leadership
Youth Leadership fosters conservation values, community engagement, and appreciation for our public lands in underserved high school students. Summer offers Youth Leadership Adventures which include week-long wilderness trips to empower the next generation of conservation leaders. Other opportunities include the Northwest Youth Leadership Summit which develops students' personal and professional skills to serve the environment and communities; Youth Ambassadors which provides college workshops, recreation, mentorship, leadership skills, and stewardship; and later: Internship opportunities to lead summer courses while gaining work experience in this field.
Before this trip I was a shy girl from a small town. Now I know that I shouldn't be afraid to use my voice. I should act on issues that matter to me, like climate change." — Youth Leadership Adventures Student
These students come from diverse backgrounds. Some are first generation immigrants; some have grown up in rural gateway communities; many could not participate in this program without a scholarship. A gift of $1,200 can provide a named scholarship for a Youth Leadership Adventures Student, while a gift of $2,500 supports a summer intern. Over 70 students participate over the summer, and more than 85% need scholarships to attend.
Give a Youth Leadership Adventures Scholarship.
School Programs
Mountain School is our 28 year-old residential education program at the Environmental Learning Center in the heart of North Cascades National Park. Over 3 days, students spend 60 hours learning about ecological communities with their classmates, teachers, and parent chaperones. Hands-on, interdisciplinary experiences connect students to the natural and cultural history of our watershed. For most, this is the first time they visit a national park, spend a night away from home, and discover the connections between their lives, communities, and the environment. We prioritize participation of local, full school districts and subsidize costs on a sliding-scale, based on Federal Free & Reduced Lunch percentages. We also provide clothing and nutritious locally-sourced meals. Over 2,400 students participate each year with 84% of schools receiving financial aid.
Deep in the forested embrace of the upper Skagit River Valley, you can find the next two generations of Americans getting to know a national park. I heard hooting like owls and howling like wolves, coming from a circle of fifth graders and their wilderness instructors.” — Timothy Egan, National Geographic
Snow School is a day-long outdoor winter learning adventure combining applied science education with snowshoe-powered exploration at the Mt. Baker Ski Area. Middle and high school students and their teachers engage in research and hands-on learning around the themes of weather, watersheds and climate. Over the past two years the number of sessions and schools served has increased with the number of students served nearly doubling. Over 90% of the participating schools are are Title 1, low-income schools and many of these students have never been to Mt. Baker or had any experience like this.
By measuring snowpack density, students now understand why avalanches occur. They also see more clearly how snow influences our quality of life in Bellingham through the watershed that makes its way down the Nooksack River and out to the bay; and ultimately it teaches how everything is connected and why we need to protect our local environment." — Kulshan Middle School Counselor
Give to support School Programs.
Primary Issue
Climate Change
Secondary Issue
810 State Route 20
Sedro-Woolley, WA 98284
United States
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