Outdoors

Snow School

Making climate science personal

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

On Sept. 20, thousands of people took to our local streets as part of the global Youth Climate Strike.

Though activists continue to provoke thought and inspire action, the scale of the problem can feel daunting. Mt. Baker Snow School provides a local context in which climate science becomes more personal, encouraging a sense of responsibility and hopefulness. By investigating snowpack, watersheds and weather, students understand the problem in a tangible way and progress toward engineering solutions.

This winter, approximately 650 middle-schoolers will travel to Mt. Baker Ski Area to gain knowledge that will enable them to become the leaders we need to navigate inevitable challenges ahead.

A collaborative program led by North Cascades Institute, Mt. Baker Snow School provides a classroom orientation followed by a one-day exploration of applied science. While snowshoeing, students analyze snow profiles with Northwest Avalanche Center educators, collect snow algae samples for Western Washington University’s Living Snow Project, observe snow crystals, test for snow water equivalent, and make observations of weather, plants and animals. The goal is for students, instructors and teachers to better understand how the quantity and quality of the snowpack impacts the health of the watershed.

Small learning groups are guided by community volunteers who engage in their own learning process. Bre Harris, a former educator, says, “As a Snow School instructor, I gained a unique perspective on how weather, terrain, snow crystal morphology and snowpack analysis provide clues about changing climate and water supplies.”  

Participants link the snowpack of the North Cascades to their daily lives by understanding the connectivity of a watershed. A former Snow School student reflects, “I learned many things about snow, like almost all the snow up on Mt. Shuksan melts and goes into the rivers and streams all around.”  

This awareness is particularly important as the mountain snowpack decreases and glaciers continue to recede. The communities we love, the water we drink and the food we eat are all interwoven, derived from water held for us in the craggy trust of the mountains.

By participating in ongoing scientific research in our mountain ecosystem, Mt. Baker Snow School provides youth with an opportunity to reflect on this interconnectedness and encourages all of us to become the change-makers we so desperately need.

If you’re looking for a way to support the climate movement, consider becoming a volunteer instructor for Mt. Baker Snow School. By educating youth about climate science within the context of our local mountains, you’ll contribute directly to their development as global leaders.

Abby Sussman is the School Day Programs Coordinator at North Cascades Institute. To find out more about applying for Snow School, go to http://www.ncascades.org/signup/schools/snow-school

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Events
Today
Winter Book Sale

10:00am|Bellingham Public Library

Salish Sea Early Music Festival

7:00pm| Fir-Conway Lutheran Church, St. Paul's Episcopal Church

Cinderella

7:00pm|Lynden Christian Worship and Fine Arts Center

Winter Dances

7:30pm|Performing Arts Center

Davis

8:00pm|Sylvia Center for the Arts

They come in peace

12:01am

Wild Things

9:30am|Lake Padden Park

A Forest of Words Poetry Competition

10:00am|Whatcom County

Deep Forest Experience

11:00am|Rockport State Park

Bellingham Folk Festival

4:30pm|Bellingham Unitarian Fellowship

Cups for community

5:00pm

Fourth Friday Art Walk

5:00pm|Historic Fairhaven

Opera Scenes

6:00pm|Performing Arts Center Concert Hall

Levity

7:00pm|Presence Studio

Greyson Chance

7:00pm|Mount Baker Theatre

The Good Doctor

7:30pm|Bellingham Theatre Guild

Space Trek

7:30pm|Upfront Theatre

The Cocoanuts

7:30pm|Phil Tarro Theatre

Tomorrow
Winter Book Sale

10:00am|Bellingham Public Library

Cinderella

7:00pm|Lynden Christian Worship and Fine Arts Center

Winter Dances

7:30pm|Performing Arts Center

Davis

8:00pm|Sylvia Center for the Arts

They come in peace

12:01am

A Forest of Words Poetry Competition

10:00am|Whatcom County

Deep Forest Experience

11:00am|Rockport State Park

Bellingham Folk Festival

4:30pm|Bellingham Unitarian Fellowship

Space Trek

7:30pm|Upfront Theatre

The Good Doctor

7:30pm|Bellingham Theatre Guild

Ferndale Breakfast

8:00am|American Legion Post #154

Lynden Breakfast

8:00am|Lynden Community Center

Skagit Eagle Festival

10:00am

Pruning 101

10:00am|Blaine Library

La Conner Birding Showcase

10:00am|Maple Hall

Correspondence Club

10:30am|Mindport Exhibits

Basic Pruning Methods with Plant Amnesty

11:00am|Christianson's Nursery

Deep Forest Experience

11:00am|Rockport State Park

A Taste of India

12:00pm|La Conner Braves Club

Clean Water Happy Hour

12:00pm|Overflow Taps

Bird Smarts

2:00pm|Ferndale Library

Baja, Mexico Wine Tasting

2:00pm|Seifert & Jones Wine Merchants

Early Railroads of Whatcom County

4:00pm|Village Books

Service Dog Meet and Greet

4:00pm|Samson Estates Winery

Roller Betties Pre-Season Bout

5:30pm|Lynden Skateway

Kulshan Winterfest

7:00pm|Samish Oyster Bar and Shellfish Market

Jennifer Scott Trio

7:30pm|Jansen Art Center

Space Trek

7:30pm|Upfront Theatre

Off the Hill Concert Series

7:30pm|Whatcom Museum's Old City Hall

Sound of Music Sing-Along

7:30pm|Mount Baker Theatre

Contra Dance

8:00pm|Bellingham Unitarian Fellowship

Paula Poundstone

8:00pm|Lincoln Theatre

Sunday
Winter Dances

7:30pm|Performing Arts Center

They come in peace

12:01am

A Forest of Words Poetry Competition

10:00am|Whatcom County

Deep Forest Experience

11:00am|Rockport State Park

Bellingham Folk Festival

4:30pm|Bellingham Unitarian Fellowship

The Good Doctor

7:30pm|Bellingham Theatre Guild

Skagit Eagle Festival

10:00am

Deep Forest Experience

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Space Trek

7:30pm|Upfront Theatre

Skagit Eagle Festival

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Low Sensory Sunday

10:00am|Whatcom Museum's Lightcatcher Building

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11:00am| Guru Nanak Gursikh Gurdwara

Deep Forest Experience

11:00am|Rockport State Park

Creative and Literary Liberation book club

1:00pm|Village Books

Birds on the Shelf

1:30pm|Whatcom Museum's Old City Hall

Skagit Symphony Family Concert

2:00pm|McIntyre Hall

Bill Evans, Dan Crary, and Wally Barnick

2:00pm|Nancy's Farm

Birding for Kids

2:30pm

Art of Jazz

4:00pm|BAAY Theater

Andrew Rivers

7:00pm|Upfront Theatre

see our complete calendar »