Hello all, my name is Alice Tsoodle and I am just joining the Friends of North Creek Forest team as the Education Manager. Having just graduated from UW Seattle with a Master’s Degree in Education, I am excited to continuing growing in the same place that I started my outdoor education journey. Years ago, in 2012, I transferred to UW Bothell, from the University of Colorado, Boulder, and eventually graduated with a degree in environmental studies. I was directed to sign up for one of Dr. Amy Lambert’s classes and she promptly led us all into the North Creek Forest. It was here that I fell in love with the land and waters of this place and decided to pursue a career that would allow me to be outside as much as possible. I had a class with Robert Turner at UWB which required I spend some time planning a lesson and actually teaching it to real kids! I never imagined myself as a teacher, but with children of my own and coming from a family full of teachers, it came to me naturally.
After I graduated with a Bachelors in Environmental Studies, I continued to volunteer at FNCF where Carolyn and Jim, David and the rest of the wonderful education team at FNCF fostered my growth in the education field. They encouraged me to experiment with lesson planning and practice teaching. I spent some time in the NCF with kids from Soundview and the YMCA and did some work photographing and writing for the FNCF blog.
During this time I interned at Sound Salmon Solutions as an educator and eventually started volunteering with Islandwood, teaching salmon habitat health to 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders in various parks around Seattle. It was then that I decided to get serious about education and applied for the graduate program at Islandwood, where I eventually earned a certificate in Education for Environment and Community. While at Islandwood, I logged many hours of field time teaching 4th, 5th, and 6th grade students, and their teachers, from all over the Puget Sound region how to practice science in the woods.
I collaborated with a team of 28 educators from around the country and learned so much from everyone. I also gained much experience working with kids in an outdoor environment, learning a great deal about how to keep all types of kids emotionally and physically safe.
On completion of my time at Islandwood, I continued on to UW Seattle to finish my Master’s degree. My graduate project was to design and teach a series of weekend workshops where native high school girls learned ecology and were introduced to restorative practices. I collaborated with fellow UW education students who were teaching the girls how to code. I also spent some time working at Red Eagle Soaring with native urban youth, teaching them how to use science as a medium to teach people about climate change. This work was made possible with a grant through the National Science Foundation and UW.
While at UW, I worked under Dr. Warren Gold and the rest of the UW-REN faculty to earn my certificate in restoration ecology. I worked with community partners at Ravenna Ravine to plan and complete restoration on a small wetlands site along the Ravenna Creek. I was also lucky enough to cross paths with Dr. Megan Bang and her UW team, who are doing amazing research on current public school pedagogical practices and developing NGSS based science curriculum that honors many different ways of knowing and learning. For the past two summers, I was invited to join her diverse team of PhD students and community leaders to design and teach two weeks of native STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math) camp at Discovery and Carkeek parks. There I designed plant cards that honor the indigenous way of understanding the world, mixing western based science methods with systems based science methods. I also partnered with Sealaska to teach Sockeye science camp with a group of young alaskan natives at Islandwood. It was a tiered program where older students were learning leadership skills while mentoring the younger students from their community.
Which brings me full circle back to the forest at North Creek, where I am honored to be working again with the wonderful team at FNCF. I am inspired by the work that has been done while I was away, both in the office and in the field. I had the opportunity to walk around my old stomping grounds at the first few UWREN restoration sites on the lower side and I am amazed at how healthy everything looks. The blackberry are mostly gone and the scrappy willows are busy defending the younger, future generations of conifers. I look forward to sitting down with the education committee and see what they have been up too, what their dreams and goals are, and co-designing an education plan that will lead us into a healthy future, providing opportunities to bring all people into the forest you have worked so hard to conserve. I would love to hear from you all, so please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to chat or have any questions or ideas for me.