The North Cascades Institute wants people to go outside, and it wants them to fully experience the beauty and joy of being outdoors.
It offers courses for all ages that will teach you about natural sciences, of course. But you can also learn to capture the scenery of the Cascades in watercolor. Or learn to harvest and prepare wild foods. Or maybe you prefer poetry.
The institute brings many disciplines to life, all with a focus on the natural world.
Many of the courses are offered at its Learning Center at Diablo Lake, but you can also explore the San Juans, the Methow Valley and more.
In addition to the classes, the institute also offers a citizen science program that contributes to scientific research. You can participate in a series of BioBlitzes to survey species, including dragonflies, snakes and hawks.
The Learning Center will also host five family weekends this year where you can choose from activities such as canoeing, hiking, games, arts and scientific exploration.
The Learning Center also offers overnight accommodations and learning adventures throughout the summer on a space-available basis. Base camp, as they call it, includes three meals for each night you stay, as well as the chance to plan your own adventures or join the Learning Center staff on one of theirs.
Here’s a selection of some of the programs coming this season. Go to http://ncascade.org for the full list.
San Juan Treasures: Exploring Yellow and Jones Islands by Boat and Boot
May 10 to 11 and May 17 to 18, with Kevin Campion
Explore the San Juans onboard the Orion, a 1934 wooden sailboat. Learn about seabirds, marine mammals and wildflowers as well as sailing and navigation.
The Galloping Gourmet in the North Cascades
May 16 to 17, with Graham Kerr
The celebrity chef will offer a meal and presentation at the Learning Center. Working with the kitchen staff, Kerr will produce a meal using as many local ingredients as possible. He will speak about the evolution of how we think about, prepare and consume food.
Mountain Photography and Microbrews
May 17 to 18, with Garrett Grove
Enjoy a presentation by photographer Garrett Grove, a gourmet meal and microbrews by Icicle Brewing Company.
Printmaking with Ink and Watercolor
May 23 to 25, with Molly Hashimoto
Learn the art of printmaking with the Learning Center’s natural environment as inspiration. You’ll learn how to make the prints and tint them with watercolors.
Wild Eats from Land to Sea in the San Juan Islands
June 13 to 15, with Jennifer Hahn
This delicious trip is timed to coincide with spring’s abundance and an extreme low tide for harvesting sea vegetables. Learn to identify plants and how to sustainably harvest them, and use your knowledge to create a feast.
Landscape Watercolors in the North Cascades
June 20 to 22, with Molly Hashimoto
All levels are welcome in this class. Learn skills to capture the scenery of the North Cascades in watercolors in the open air.
In the Company of Corvids: Ravens, Crows and Jays
June 27 to 29, with John Marzluff
Learn about corvids — ravens, crows, jays, magpies and nutcrackers — in their natural habitats.
Mount Baker: Discovering Hidden Cinder Cones and Crater Lakes
July 6, with Dave Tucker
Visit a cinder cone near Mount Baker. Also explore a lava flow. Be prepared for off-trail travel.
July 20, with Dennis Paulson
Learn about dragonfly biology and identification during exploration in Seattle.
Wild Poetry at Hart’s Pass
Aug. 1 to 3, with Saul Weisberg and Tim McNulty
Weisberg, founder and executive director of the institute and writing instructor McNulty will lead a weekend of poetry, natural history, exploration and camaraderie at Hart’s Pass.