Sustainability Pathways Cohort

Group photo of the full 2021 cohort
Katie Boon smiling with her dog Rosie on the beach

Katie Boon

WWU - Environmental Science with a minor in Geology

Katie is working with Cascade Fisheries alongside Sophia Fox as a part of their Fish Passage Barrier Assessment Crew. Katie surveys man-made structures (culverts, bridges, dams) that are barriers to native fish returning to their spawning grounds. Cascade Fisheries works with the DNR, WDFW, the Forest Service as well as private landowners in an effort to help restore salmon habitat across Okanogan County.

What excites you most about your work in the Methow Valley?

“I am so excited to engage directly in the work that Cascade Fisheries does. I have been fascinated with salmon for a while now and I am ready to dive into some hands-on work that will directly benefit our fishy friends.”

Why is a sustainable future important?

“A sustainable future is important because of the aspects that make up sustainability: social justice, economic vitality, human health, and ecological health. All four of these pillars are interwoven and are pivotal in ensuring the success and wellbeing of future generations and the future of the planet we inhabit.”

Cooper Castelle smiling

Cooper Castelle

WWU - Environmental Studies with a minor in Spanish

Cooper is a Methow Valley Fire Lookout Fellow/Intern and his work revolves around researching and maintaining fire lookouts in and around the Methow Valley. The overall purpose of this position is to preserve the historic and cultural significance of these structures as well as to educate and encourage public support.

What excites you most about your work in the Methow Valley?

“I’m excited to learn about the fire lookouts of this area and their history as well as the people who are working to preserve them. I’m particularly interested in opportunities to increase public awareness about fire lookouts, so that others will be inspired to join in the efforts to keep their history alive.”

Why is a sustainable future important?

“A green, sustainable economy is important in order to have an equitable society going forward, particularly given the climate crisis we face. Green, self-sustaining economies are more likely to yield long-term benefits for a diverse public. Sustainability will promote resilience to any future resource shortages or other societal stresses that a changing climate may provoke.”

Owen Donnelly smiling in front of trees and water

Owen Donnelly

WWU - Environmental Science

Owen is working on WIllow Brook Farm in Carlton, WA. Owen helps the farm grow, harvest, and sell a variety of leafy greens and other vegetables.

What excites you most about your work in the Methow Valley?

“I think the ability to experience a new place through a more hands on approach and really being able to get to know the locals excites me. Also as I have zero farming experience, learning the dynamics of a farm has been really interesting.”

Why is a sustainable future important?

“A sustainable future is important because it is the only way forward, we simply cannot continue to live the way we have for the last 100 or so years. This planet deserves to be treated in a manner that allows every generation to experience it to the fullest, instead of continuing the trend where each generation gets less and less to experience.”

Julia Downing headshot

Julia Downing

WWU - Energy Science. Pursuing the Climate Leadership Certificate

Julia is working at Resilient Methow with their implementation HUB in supporting a Climate Action Plan for the Methow Valley. Her role involves reaching out to community members to hear about sustainable solution stories happening in the Valley and working on ways in which the Climate Action Plan can support these acts. Julia will be working to build a strong recognition for the CAP in the Methow Valley in order to support local climate sustainability work.

What excites you most about your work in the Methow Valley?

“Working in the Methow Valley has and will give me the opportunity to connect with local organizations and community members to learn about what sustainability looks like in a rural setting. I am excited to hear from locals how they have incorporated sustainable practices into their lives and how resilience can be built in this community.”

Why is a sustainable future important?

“Sustainability encompasses the need to equitably support and advocate for the future of all peoples. The acknowledgement of all areas of sustainability is important in climate work moving forward especially for those who are marginally impacted by the systems put in place. Sustainable development is vital to ensuring how we respect and take care of the resources we have. Our future and the future of natural and built systems are dependent on the actions we take now to protect and preserve the livelihoods of all people and things on the planet.”

Sophia Fox Headshot

Sophia Fox

WWU - Environmental Studies with a Minor in Environmental Policy

Sophia is working with Cascade Fisheries alongside Katie Boon as a field surveyor to find and assess any man made barriers, like culverts, dams, bridges, or even water diversions, in streams throughout the Methow Valley. These barriers are assessed for native fish passability and data is passed onto joint organizations.

What excites you most about your work in the Methow Valley?

“What excites me most about working in the Methow Valley this summer is the communities and being able to become a partner to them while helping to recover the fish habitats around their local basins.”

Why is a sustainable future important?

“As climate change effects become more tangible it is important to incorporate sustainability and conservation into our communities so that we can supplement our resource base to alleviate those harsher effects as they become more of a present risk rather than a for-warning.”

Liliana Hart-Beck headshot

Liliana Hart-Beck

WWU - Environmental Science & Mandarin Chinese

Liliana’s position with the Methow Valley’s Community Learning Lab is the River to Raven and Shafer Museum Land Stewardship Fellow, which focuses on creating a baseline of information that can allow for long term land stewardship on the River to Raven Project in the future. The work for this project is mainly research, of which some is primary research, as well as geographic information science (GIS) work.

What excites you most about your work in the Methow Valley?

“As a person that has lived in the Methow Valley since 2005, I jumped at the chance to work on something that would hopefully become a more permanent fixture in the place that I had the pleasure of growing up in and have the delight of calling home. This opportunity to give back in some fashion to the community that gave me so much was also too good to pass on."

Why is a sustainable future important?

“Incorporating sustainability into more aspects of our personal lives and pushing for larger corporations and other entities to do the same is also beneficial for everybody in the long run. It is not supposed to hinder development and innovation, it is meant to support the needs of today’s people without diminishing the resources required to meet the needs of the future."

Maia Heffernan Headshot

Maia Heffernan

WWU - Marine & Coastal Science and Spanish with a minor in Honors Interdisciplinary Studies

This summer, Maia is involved in two positions doing youth advocacy work. In the Methow Valley, she is working at Sustainability Pathways and helping to develop a program that provides youth with job experience and training within the field of sustainability. In the Okanogan Valley Maia is working at the Foundation for Youth Resiliency and Engagement (FYRE). This organization provides social, legal, and drop-in services for underrepresented youth and youth in crisis.

What excites you most about your work in the Methow Valley?

“I love being closely involved in the community. It is so rewarding to know that the work I am doing is helping someone and strengthens the community. It has also allowed me to see the different facets of life within the valley. Similarly, I love the people that I work with. Everyone is committed to making life better in the valley for those that are struggling, and it is inspiring to be around them.”

Why is a sustainable future important?

“A sustainable future is important because sustainability includes not only ecological health, but also economic vitality, social justice, and human health. All of these things are necessary for our societies and communities to thrive. As we are already seeing the effects of climate change, it is also important that we realize the other facets of sustainability are also being affected by the state of the world today. A sustainable future does not only promise a healthy earth for future generations, but it also promises justice and happiness for all people.”

Zoe Hemez hanging from a tree branch on the beach

Zoe Hemez

WWU - Energy Science & Mathematics. Pursuing the Climate Leadership Certificate

Zoe is working at Methow Trails and aiding in the building, maintaining, and managing over 200 kilometers of trails in the valley. The trails are used by cross-country skiers and snowshoers in the winter and runners, hikers, mountain bikers, and horseback riders in the summer, attracting tourists and economic activity year round. When Zoe isn’t working on landowner communications in the office, she’s outside helping the trail crews.

What excites you most about your work in the Methow Valley?

“Methow Trails’ work is incredibly important to sustaining the valley’s economy, which is largely driven by tourism and recreation. I’ve learned new things every day of working there, but I’ve been most excited to observe as the organization shifts its mission to accommodate the consequences of climate change. As wildfires destroy skiing areas and annual snowfall decreases every year, Methow Trails is dedicating itself to providing equitable and sustainable trail access to the community.”

Why is a sustainable future important?

“A sustainable future is our only way to have a future at all! A sustainable world is one that prioritizes the health of our planet and its inhabitants above all else; one where the decisions we make today benefit us for generations to come. Achieving such a world will require us to reimagine nearly every aspect of our society, but it’s important to remember that sustainability has existed in the past, and it can exist again in the future.”

Piper Horning headshot

Piper Horning

SDSU - Environmental Sciences with minors in Oceanography and Geography

Piper is working under the guidance and instruction of Tom Jones, helping connect state legislative bills passed in the last year to the Methow Valley Climate Action Plan.

What excites you most about your work in the Methow Valley?

“Being a part of a volunteer group that is collectively working together to make an everlasting impact on their community is very exciting to me. I’m honored to have a part with the team and am extremely excited to see the plan come to fruition.” 

Why is a sustainable future important?

“A sustainable future is essential if we want future generations to be able to enjoy our beautiful Earth. The human race has not treated our only home with the love and care it deserves, we have caused great harm that is literally destroying Earth. Working towards a sustainable future can preserve the natural beauty that our planet has to offer. Our society needs to make many hard changes to achieve a sustainable lifestyle and I hope to spread awareness and influence others to begin working towards sustainability.”

Olivia Kaulfus headshot

Olivia Kaulfus

WWU - Honors College, Energy Science & Technology with minors in French and Sustainable Design. Pursuing the Climate Leadership Certificate

Olivia is working with Rocklynn Culp, the Town Planner of Winthrop. Olivia has two main projects for the summer, the first being developing updated street standards for Winthrop, as the last street standard update was in 1992. The second project is designing a grant proposal to develop the trailhead at Meadowlark trail, a property recently acquired by the town.

What excites you most about your work in the Methow Valley?

“I really enjoy working with Rocklynn, and I am learning a lot from the research that I am doing as it is outside of my major. The work I am doing is very engaging, and I like how I can see it having a genuine impact on the community.”

Why is a sustainable future important?

“When I think of sustainability, I picture a way of living that can be sustained for generations without negative social, physical, or environmental consequences. As of right now, the way humans are living is in no way sustainable. We should strive for a sustainable future in order to not inflict complete ruin on the world - if we don’t eventually achieve a sustainable lifestyle, we will destroy ourselves.”

Sage Martin headshot

Sage Martin

WWU - Environmental Education

Throughout the summer, Sage has been compiling research to create a resource library that includes information about food security, food sovereignty, local food systems, nutritional and social benefits of locally grown food, and education systems to further promote social, economic, and environmental justice.

What excites you most about your work in the Methow Valley?

“It has been very exciting to work in a community of like-minded people to expand our education in sustainability, community connections, and social and environmental justice. I have loved being able to work outdoors and explore an environment I have never experienced before. I think it’s very important for people to have a safe learning space and the Methow Valley is a great space to foster this goal.”

Why is a sustainable future important?

“Sustainability is becoming increasingly important because it not only means living in a way that is beneficial to humans and to the surrounding environment, but it also means finding creative solutions for the needs of local, regional, and global communities. Living in sustainable ways includes listening and engaging with communities to create equitable pathways, challenging norms, and striving towards social, economic, and environmental justice.”

Lilian Propst sits on a log by the beach

Lilian Propst

WWU - Environmental Policy with minors in Geography and Sustainability Studies

Lillian is working at Room One this summer, a community non-profit that focuses on direct services, prevention, and systems change in the Methow Valley. Along with her supervisor, Keri Moore, Lillian is researching housing affordability in the Valley along with advocacy strategies Room One could use in addressing the issue. 

What excites you most about your work in the Methow Valley?

“I am deeply grateful to have the opportunity to engage with so many different community members, it makes my work so much more meaningful.  I really feel like my work at Room One will have a lasting impact with the community, which is exciting. Also, the vast opportunities for place-based learning are endless here in the Valley!”

Why is a sustainable future important?

“It is important to be respectful of the natural resources Earth gives us, yet many current societal practices are doing the opposite. Sustainability includes finding ways in which we can meet our own needs without sacrificing the needs of future generations. Social, economic, and environmental equity can only be sustainable in the future if we continue to creatively challenge the systems that are degrading our resources.”

Sarah Quenemoen takes a selfie with a bush behind her

Sarah Quenemoen

WWU - Environmental Policy

Sarah’s position in the Methow this summer has been as a farming intern for Classroom in Bloom and the Red Shed. The Red Shed is a small garden that sells produce at the market and donates to the free lunch program in the valley as well as the food bank in town. Classroom in Bloom is an organization that works to reconnect children with the magic of growing their own food and a love for the garden. During the Summer months, the kids arrive at the garden and engage in activities that focus on all that the garden provides for them!

What excites you most about your work in the Methow Valley?

“Getting to see such a wonderful community of hardworking and compassionate people is very inspiring. Studying the environment means understanding a lot of the hardships that people and the planet must endure, and it is easy to encounter environmental burnout when only focused on the academic side of environmental justice work. Getting to work closely with people who really care about each other, and their community members has been the best way I've found to fight the doom and gloom.”

Why is a sustainable future important?

"The path that we as a global community are currently on will not last us for long. I have worked with children consistently since 2019, and it seems wildly unfair that those young people should carry a weight that they did not place on themselves, nor did they have much of a choice of whether they should be born into a world on fire. Creating a world that sets the younger generations up for success and gives them the freedom of choosing what they want to do with their futures. Moving forward with a sustainability-oriented mindset would create pathways to improve other areas of our society. A sustainable environment, to me, looks like supporting oppressed identities in our communities. Supporting each other and creating opportunities through justice work is a keystone to adequately living in a sustainable future."

Jonny Smith posing on a mountain face

Jonny Smith

WWU - Environmental Policy with minors in Communication Studies and Environmental Studies

Jonny is working in the Sustainability Pathways Program alongside Maia Heffernan and Joshua Porter. The program is designed to help undergraduate students develop essential skills and competencies through work experience and academic learning to establish pathways for careers in sustainability. Jonny’s job in particular is public communication, consisting of interviewing program partners, fellow cohort members, managing social media platforms, and collaborating with WWU in developing the program’s website.

What excites you most about your work in the Methow Valley?

“I am most excited to be a part of the foundation of this program and make it so future interns in this program can hit the ground running and take it even further. By interviewing program partners, I can get a glimpse of what the community’s stance is on sustainability and what work is being done to align with it. I am excited to hear diverse responses and what people’s ideas are to combat the increasing effects of climate change and encompassing sustainability.”

Why is a sustainable future important?

“Becoming sustainable increases quality of life and will put less strain on the environment and the human population. The equity and social justice lenses of sustainability are essential because I believe it is important to support the communities that are being ostracized and subjected to the worst impacts of climate change. Boosting equity and increasing their access to resources will greatly increase human health. I believe a strong, equitable, and just society is our best chance in reducing our carbon footprint and mitigating climate change.”

Libby Taylor-Manning stands in front of a tree

Libby Taylor-Manning

WWU - Environmental Science with a minor in Chemistry

Libby is working with the Twisp Tree Board to help them with research and connect with the community on projects related to their work of increasing the residential tree canopy.

What excites you most about your work in the Methow Valley?

“So far in my work in the valley I have been amazed by the willingness of everyone to collaborate and share resources with me. It has been a great environment to learn from and I feel like I am able to get some really interesting and important work done here (with a whole lot of help!).”

Why is a sustainable future important?

“There is no future without sustainability, it is most literally what we need to survive and live well, while ensuring that future generations can also meet their needs. I think the world has been fueled by over consumption and unsustainable business and living practices, to the point where people cannot see that the current way of life in many cultures is harming people and the planet. Sustainability can be a great way of equalizing quality of life, but it is going to take a lot of change which will be hard to do.”