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Occasional posts - from the quirky to the momentous - on the life and times of the Methow Conservancy.
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Monday, August 3, 2015

Mary's Grad School Update #6

by Mary Kiesau, Methow Conservancy Educational Programs Director
It's been many months since I posted an update about my grad school work.  I've been back in the Methow and at work at the Conservancy since the middle of March, but every week I get questions about whether I've finished school, whether I'm still commuting to Bellingham, when I'll be done, etc., so I figured a quick update might be worthwhile.  

Plus, I have some fun photos to share!

This spring and summer I've continued to complete credits toward a Masters of Education in Environmental Education through some field-based programs.  In the spring, I helped off and on to "TA" (assisted in teaching) the undergraduate environmental education (EE) "spring block" course.  I would spend time with the undergraduates (which ranged in age from 19-34) intermittently - a week here, a week there, usually in the field such as on Sucia Island in the San Juans, or backpacking outside of Stehekin.  While I did prepare materials for the students, and do some instructing, much of my work was to provide guidance and feedback from a distance -- all while learning and practicing more EE skills myself.  I found my role/task both difficult because I wasn’t fully engaged and was often out of the loop with the other instructors, and extremely interesting and rewarding working with the undergrads and having a view-from-afar perspective.  I enjoyed watching things unfold and develop - people’s teaching skills and the overall group dynamics - while not being heavily involved in either instigating or supervising/debriefing/judging the students.  I was really able to focus on what I was comfortable with and skilled at, as well as see what I'd like to build and practice in myself.

Then, in late June and early July, I took part in an 18-day "Northern Field Botany" course. The course was offered through Western WA University's Biology department and I was able to take it as an elective for my M.Ed. program. Four undergrads, myself and the instructor stuffed ourselves into a rented Suburban with camping gear, food and enormous plant presses. We traveled everyday, hiked and collected plants most days, and saw an amazing amount of the vast British Columbia and Yukon landscape. It was incredible. Below are just a few of my 1400 or so photos!

As we head into fall, I'll begin work on my independent Master's Project (in lieu of a thesis).  I have a few options I'm tossing around now, but I'll settle into the work soon and focus on it through the winter (and continue to work at the MC full-time).  If all goes as planned, I will finish and graduate in March 2016.  All of this final project work will be done from the Methow.  All my other coursework is done and I do not need to attend classes on campus anymore.  
Salmon Glacier north of Hyder, Alaska

Pressed plants everyday.  Saxifraga tricuspida here.

Saxifraga tricuspida leaves
Saxifraga tricuspida, a type of Spotted Saxifrage

Just part of one hike's loot. We were collecting for the WWU herbarium as well as for DNA/genome research.

Sparrow's Egg Lady's-slipper - Cypripedium passerinum
Lapie Canyon, Yukon
Mary & a life-size Pleistocene era "Giant Beaver" at the Beringia Interpretive Center in Whitehorse, Yukon.
Dryas drummondi
The Carcross "desert" in the Yukon

Muncho Lake, BC

Keno Hill, Yukon - a nunatak that is beautiful when not socked in

Abundant black bears but never got a great photo of any

The Common Loon was on every lake, and everyday there were lakes

Lovely moose lady.  Such a beautiful and bizarre looking creature.

Momma "cross fox," a color variant of the red fox

Baby "cross fox"
Tombstone Territorial Park, Yukon
*Huge* grizzly while hiking in Tombstone (this is around midnight!)
"Hiking the Midnight Sun" selfie in Tombstone

browsing willows at 2am

55° and drizzle in the Yukon while it was 100° at home
One of two huge and full plant presses

Many moose and many lakes in Canada!

The enormous "Wood Bison" - crazy huge and all over the roads

One of our best wildlife sightings - a wolf (seen through wildfire smoke at 10pm)

Stone Sheep, a subspecies of Dall sheep

Scaling mtns for tiny plants (Muncho Lakes/Stone Mtn area)
Porcupine Caribou in the Muncho Lakes/Stone Mtn area
Prickly Pear (in Alberta!)
Sunset looking into Jasper Nat'l Park
Pyramid Peak in Jasper Nat'l Park

The End!