Environmental Education Volunteer Open House

Become an Environmental Learning Unit volunteer and help teach Seattleites about the plants, the animals and the parks in our communities. We’re currently recruiting for Seattle Urban Nature Guides in addition to other great positions. Seattle Urban Nature Guides enhance, promote and foster appreciation of nature by connecting families and students with their Seattle park lands, and providing educational opportunities for all. Fall applications are available now and we are accepting them through August 4.

Want to learn more? Meet current volunteers and staff and learn more about volunteering with us at our volunteer open houses at Camp Long and Discovery Park.

Date: August 3
Time: 6:30-8:30pm
Camp Long Environmental Learning Center, 5200 35th Ave SW, 98126
Discovery Park Environmental Learning Center, 3801 Discovery Park Blvd, 98199

Our complete list of Environmental Learning volunteer openings, including detailed job descriptions, are found on our website, http://www.seattle.gov/parks/volunteer/environmental-education-volunteers

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Seattle Parks’ gardeners teach hands-on learning in Magnuson Park

Students in Magnuson Park. Photo by Jessica Levine

Seattle Parks and Recreation believes that parks make excellent classrooms, and this June, we tested that theory with the help of 300 students.

Students pull invasive plant species in Magnuson Park. Photo by Jessica Levine

On June 9, 10 and 11, Seattle Parks Northeast District Gardeners led approximately 300 sixth graders from Eckstein Middle School on field trips throughout Magnuson Park. The event was the culmination of their sixth-grade science unit on stormwater.

The gardeners shared the history of the site’s transformation from pristine wilderness, to naval airstrip and base, to constructed wetlands. The students learned about invasive weeds, native wetland vegetation, resident wildlife, and how they all relate to cleaning up stormwater before it reaches Lake Washington.

The gardeners trained a group of 50 students every two and a half hours on safe tool usage and uprooting invasive plants.  The kids were extremely productive, and many were surprised how much fun it was working in the park.

“Thank you for our memorable experience in Magnuson Park this week,” Eckstein Middle School teacher Jessica Levine said. “Removing invasives to help natives thrive is important for stormwater management. Glad we could help!”

Start your summer camp adventure at Seattle Parks’ Camp Long

Seattle Parks and Recreation invites youth ages 11-13 to summer Adventure Camps at Camp Long Environmental Learning Center. These camps expose kids to fun outdoor activities, environmental topics, leadership skills and team development.

Participants will take day trips to try out different outdoor activities like kayaking, rock climbing and hiking. No experience is necessary, but campers must attend camp orientation on June 18 and complete a float test.

The three different camps offered are:

Rock Climbing, June 22-26, registration barcode 133772
Rock Climbing Adventure Camp consists of Challenge Course experiences and rock climbing at Schurman Rock, Magnuson Park, Seattle Bouldering Project and Olallie State Park.

Natural Challenges, June 29-July 23, registration barcode 133773
Natural Challenges Adventure Camp promotes strong leadership skills through nature activities. Campers will experience challenges to encourage teamwork, leadership, survival techniques and stewardship.

Terra Aqua, July 6-10, registration barcode 133774
Terra Aqua Adventure Camp consists of Challenge Course experiences, rock climbing, kayaking, hiking, stand up paddle boarding and canoeing.

Participants must fill out the application below and turn them into the Camp Long Environmental Learning Center at 5200 35th Ave SW in West Seattle. In addition to filling out the application, campers register here: https://class.seattle.gov/parks/Start/start.asp

For more information, please call Seth Wendzel, Seattle Parks Environmental Learning Center staff, at 541-286-0169.

All campers must attend a mandatory orientation from 5-8 p.m. on Thursday, June 18, at Camp Long. The cost for the week-long camp is $350. The payment covers registration, a float test, gear, transportation and snacks for the week. It is recommended that students bring a pack with lunches, a hat and water bottle each day.

Scholarships are available. See application below.

Registration materials:

Camp application: Camp Application

Scholarship application: Scholarship Application


Rainier Vista Environmental Leadership Institute earns $20K Parks Build Community grant

Project coordinator Justin Hellier with Rainier Vista youth last year.


In April, we asked you to vote on which Seattle Parks and Recreation project should receive a $20,000 grant from the National Recreation and Park Association, and the results are in. Seattle voters selected the Rainier Vista Environmental Leadership Institute as their top project.

“Seattle is a community that is committed to the environment, committed to equity and committed to developing young leaders,” project coordinator Justin Hellier said. “The Rainier Vista Youth Environmental Leadership Institute is an opportunity to bring all three of those commitments to life this summer.”

The Rainier Vista Environmental Leadership Institute will connect diverse, low-income youth to nature by engaging them in a six-week summer employment program focused on urban farming, urban forest restoration and community leadership development. The youth will work with a variety of community partners including the Seattle Housing Authority, Solid Ground and Earth Corps. The program will make tangible physical improvements to several local parks and will build the capacity of participating youth to connect to nature and serve as environmental leaders. The program will culminate in a community volunteer event led by the youth.

“Young people in Rainier Vista are the most diverse youth in our city, and in my experience they are creative, passionate, and looking for a chance to make a difference in their community,” Hellier said. “This project will give them an opportunity to spend time in Cheasty Greenspace restoring our urban forest, at the Seattle Community Farm growing food destined for the Rainier Valley Food Bank and developing their skills as community leaders. It doesn’t hurt that they’ll earn a pay check and build their resume, too!”

The grant was awarded through an initiative called Parks Build Community.  During Earth Month, the National Recreation and Park Association and Disney | ABC Television Group and ESPN collaborated to invigorate park and recreation programs and facilities across the U.S.  through Parks Build Community — an initiative that gives back to the places that shape so much of our lives. One of three Seattle Parks projects was eligible to receive a $20,000 grant – and Seattleites got to choose which one.

“We are hopeful that we will be able to continue this program into the future,” Hellier said. “We’ve already written a second grant proposal to support it next year. I have a dream of a generation of Rainier Vista young people, year after year, becoming environmental leaders through hands-on stewardship of their neighborhood forest and farm.”

To see all of the Parks Build Community grant recipients, visit http://www.parksbuildcommunity.org/.