Education Spotlight: WWU College of the Environment & Sustainability Engagement

What they do: We provide place-based, community-engaged higher education opportunities that directly involve students in advancing cross-sector sustainability work. We teach and apply systems thinking to community solutions with organizational partners committed to creating change that supports social justice, environmental quality, economic vitality, and community health. We are building access to WWU programs and degree paths to serve rural youth in the Methow and Okanogan Valleys so they can be successful in establishing livelihoods connected to the emerging green economy and contribute to long-term sustainability and equity in our communities.

Who they serve: We will serve 20 students in the Sustainability Pathways program this summer, and work with 22 organizational partners.

What’s new: We have just received a Sustainability, Equity, and Justice Fund grant to support students completing Sustainability Pathways fellowships and our Climate Leadership Certificate program for the next two years. This enables ten-week work practicum experiences including Town planning positions for Twisp and Winthrop, an energy efficiency position with Okanogan County Electric Cooperative, a zero waste position at Methow Recycles, and continued positions with the Foundation for Youth Resiliency and Engagement, Methow Trails, and Classroom in Bloom. This grant will also enable us to hire program alumni to return as mentors in a second year to support the incoming cohort. Our website is also a new work in progress:

Why the TwispWorks campus is a great fit: Our approach to offering WWU programs in the Methow is community-based, so being able to have an office space that is centrally located, and accessible is key. Being on the TwispWorks campus also enables easy use of public spaces like Your Space for our Sustainability Planning Studio course and student presentations.

What’s making them smile: As part of our program development grant with Career Connect Washington, we were able to hire two WWU alumni as temporary staff that accomplished incredible work this winter. Projects included mapping the sustainability related certificates we will offer here in the Methow in the near future, and compiling the core sustainability skills and competencies that will best prepare youth for successfully entering sustainability fields. Getting to meet as a staff with the collective creativity and energy of Joey Nishida and Aly Gourd was super smile-inducing!