Sustainability Pathways Community
Living in the Methow and Okanogan Valleys
The Sustainability Pathways office is located in Twisp, WA in the Methow Valley. The Methow Valley is a unique landscape, home to a dynamic rural mountain community. The valley offers amazing opportunities to learn, engage in community events and happenings, recreate, and participate in sustainability work.
The WWU Sustainability Pathways program is situated on the ancestral homelands of Interior Salish Peoples including the Methow, and other Colville Confederated Tribes, who have lived here from time immemorial. We express our deepest respect and gratitude to our Indigenous neighbors, for their enduring care and protection of our shared lands and waterways.
Why the Methow Valley?
Sustainability Pathways exists in the Methow Valley to offer opportunities to both locally-based students and students across Washington to gain college credit and job experience while being based in Okanogan county.
In 2021, Career Connect Washington developed a grant that we received to design Sustainability Pathways as a Career Launch Program. The program is intentionally designed to enable access to post-secondary credentials that support employment in the emerging green and regenerative economy – particularly providing access to those furthest from opportunity in a rural area with limited access to opportunities with four year universities.
Challenges such as finding affordable housing and living on service-industry wages has led to “an exodus of youth” from the Methow Valley region. Sustainability Pathways exists to develop opportunities that encourage young people to thrive in rural areas and utilize their gained professional skills and education to sustain the communities they come from (Twispworks Economic Survey, 2021).
Students live, work, and learn together in the Methow and Okanogan Valleys as a cohort throughout their fellowship experience. Students begin their summer with an orientation to the area and intentional facilitation towards building a cohesive learning community. The cohort community is an aspect of the fellowship that offers students intentional support amongst peers and staff as they develop and apply professional skills in their practicum positions and coursework. The cohort becomes a unique space for peer-to-peer sharing of perspectives and interdisciplinary learning, giving a cross-sector understanding of sustainability work and community engagement.
Cascades Carnivore Project
Cascades Carnivore Project works to promote the conservation of mountain carnivores and alpine ecosystems through diverse community engagement, scientific research, and authentic collaboration.
Students impact the work of Cascades Carnivore Project through engaging in carnivore research by setting up camera stations, photo sorting and scat collection. We are now monitoring the return of wolverines to the Cascade Mountains! We are also learning more about the elusive Cascade red fox, fishers and Canada Lynx.
Classroom in Bloom
Classroom in Bloom's mission is to inspire children to connect with nature and grow healthy food. Classroom in Bloom is a non-profit organization established to enrich education through school gardening for K-12 students in the Methow Valley and throughout Okanogan County, WA. The centerpiece of our effort is a 2-acre student-led garden where we create experiential, hands-on learning opportunities and teach interdisciplinary lessons through sustainable, organic farming techniques.
The inspiration and collaborative efforts Sustainability Pathway students bring to our school garden make them a valuable part of our farm and education experiences we share with students, volunteers and our community throughout the summer months.
Clean Air Methow
Clean Air Methow is dedicated to seeking solutions for a sustainably clean airshed, improving air quality where possible and protecting health where necessary. As a community-engaged organization, students not only have a direct impact on improving the lives of those we serve, but have helped increase our capacity to do more, adding their creativity, knowledge and inspiration to our projects.
Methow at Home
The mission of Methow At Home is to support our members who wish to age in place. We intend to live in a vibrant, inclusive, multi-generational community where we honor, appreciate, and connect with our elders. We work to accomplish our mission through coordinating a team of 240 volunteers to provide various services for our members. We also offer education, social connection and preparedness planning to the whole community.
We see that intergenerational connection can enliven both our youth and elders within the community. There is an expansive and fresh energy created when we bring these two age groups/generations/experiences in life together.
Connects people, nature, and communities through a world-class trail system. Methow Trails is North America’s largest cross-country ski area and works to support a year-round community of trail users.
Working with students is invigorating and brings new excitement and interest to our work. Access to trails and outdoor space is important for everyone’s physical and mental health, and we feel privileged to be able to work in this field within such a supportive community. Students add to that network and help us expand access to everyone.
Shafer Historical Museum
The Shafer Historical Museum preserves and shares the history, culture and sense of place in the Methow Valley to inspire human connection and learning across generations.
A history museum may not be a place associated at first thought with the future of sustainable communities. Yet, historic buildings and what we now consider historic artifacts were often designed in response to climate and site, with then-innovative technologies. Students can learn from the methods and practices of those who lived on the land before us - both those resulting in the environmental damage we must now mitigate, and those that were productive and useful.
Town of Twisp
The firm Highlands Associates operates within the Town of Twisp. Since 1988, they have been providing a wide array of planning, grant writing and land-use administration services to the small rural communities throughout North Central Washington. The most important aspect of working with rural communities is to establish a good rapport with local elected and appointed officials through open and honest communications. It is exciting to have the opportunity to work with students that can offer fresh perspectives on a variety of issues and topics.
TwispWorks increases the economic and cultural vitality of the Methow Valley. We envision a collaborative community where opportunities thrive.
We expect that students will play an important role in bringing the TwispWorks mission to life. Students should expect to find themselves doing meaningful work in the office and around campus, whether that’s helping with a fundraising appeal, planning a community event, or welcoming visitors to campus.
Provide Housing for Students
Are you a Methow Valley community member interested in hosting a student in your home or have additional housing that would offer students a place to live for the summer?
We believe that working in the sustainability field should feel sustainable and accessible. Sustainability Pathways provides housing throughout the entirety of the program so that students are prepared to engage in sustainability work without the stress of finding and paying for housing. Because of the limited seasonal housing opportunities in the Methow Valley, we hope to creatively explore our options with our community to provide housing for students.
Students have previously lived in extra rooms in houses, additional dwelling units, guest houses, and small cabins. Hosts provide an additional place-based connection to the community and offer an opportunity to make this program possible. Previous hosts have named the creative energy and intergenerational community connection that students bring to their homes as a unique and fun aspect of hosting students.
Contact us if you are interested in having a conversation about providing housing for students!
Become a Partner
Is your organization located in the Methow or Okanogan Valleys and would you be interested in mentoring young people in developing skills in your field of work? Or do you have a sustainability-related project that could use some support? Host a student practicum position or project!
Contact us to have a conversation to explore partnering possibilities with Sustainability Pathways!
We believe that making Sustainability Pathways accessible as a fellowship program invests in the success of our youth and the long term sustainability of our communities. Your donation to the Sustainability Pathways Fund supports all aspects of the fellowships from providing housing to supporting practicum placements and program partners.