Applied Ecology:

Empowering Future

Environmental Stewards

Ages: 15-18

July 22- August 4 (Sun-Sat)

Applied Ecology is an application-based opportunity for high school students with a foundation in environmental studies or sciences to dive deeper. Option available to earn high school and/or college credit.


This two-week science course focuses on:

  • Developing interdisciplinary field research & science communication skills

  • Understanding water's interconnections from the glaciers on Mt. Adams to the agricultural valley of Trout Lake.

  • Collaborating with many local partners, including farmers, scientists, land owners, watershed planners and engineers  


Students will begin their time understanding the importance of water to agriculture by living and working with Farmer Kaye at Broadfork Farm, an organic homestead. Students will work with scientists at the Underwood Conservation District and Mt. Adams Ranger District to monitor water quality & assess riparian ecology of the White Salmon River and Trout Lake Creek. The White Salmon River is a world-class whitewater river with sensitive and culturally-significant populations of Chinook and Coho salmon; Trout Lake Creek is critical to the agricultural economy of Trout Lake, WA. From there, students will venture into the beautiful and dramatic Mt. Adams Wilderness for a 4-day backpacking trip.  During their time on the mountain, students will explore the glaciers of Mt. Adams and the headwaters of the White Salmon River.


Participants will become comfortable using field research equipment, such as temperature, dissolved oxygen, and pH probes, and taking inventory of plants along the banks of Trout Lake Creek. To better understand the human relationship with the rivers and creeks, participants will interview local stakeholders in the Trout Lake Valley.


Applied Ecology is the course for students looking to explore environmental systems more in depth while honing their field research skills, all in the beauty of the Washington Cascade Mountains. 

Dates: Sunday, July 22- Saturday, August 4, 2018

Ages: 15-18

Activities: Backpacking, Hiking, Science, Water Quality Monitoring, Ecological Agriculture, Farming, Whitewater Rafting, Food Systems, Biking

Service Hours: Students can receive up to 20 hours of service credit for this course.

Science Credit: The course is taught for credit/no credit as a .5 high school science elective course and for 4 units of graded college credit through the Columbia Gorge Community College (CGCC). If you would like to receive high school science credit, we strongly encourage you to meet with your home school counselor and discuss the course before you attend to make sure the credit will transfer.

Instructors: Ingrid Dahl, educator; Kelly O'Dowd, CMS outreach coordinator and educator

Accommodations: Forest Campus at the Mt. Adams Institute, Mt. Adams Wilderness, and other field research campsites in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest.

Additional Info:Participants do not need any special experience, though they should be in good physical condition and able to work within a cooperative group setting. Cascade Mountain School can loan equipment such as backpacks and tents if necessary.

Cost: $1,950 per student ($1,850 if you register before April 1). Need-based scholarships are available.

How to Apply: 

Please contact us with any registration questions.

1.    Register on ActiveWorks.

2.   Pay the 25% deposit to hold your spot.

3.   Within one week following your initial registration, you will receive an email from Erynne van Zee, Summer Program Coordinator, with the Applied Ecology Application.  


4.   Submit the supplemental Applied Ecology Application to within 2 weeks of receiving it.


Ingrid Dahl


Ingrid's desire to teach Natural History and Ecology began while growing up enjoying the treasures of the North Cascades. Ingrid earned her BA in Environmental Studies and Education while at Prescott College. At Prescott she learned to combine her love for climbing and the natural sciences in Prescott College’s extensive field courses where she spent many nights sleeping under the stars in beautiful places including the southwest, Mexico, Yukon Territory, and Alaska. When not teaching 5th grade at the Gardner School, Ingrid can be found foraging for berries in wild places, honing her love for landscape studies, alpine ecosystems, reading maps, and getting outside with her family.

Kelly O'Dowd

CMS Outreach Coordinator & Educator

Kelly graduated with a degree in International Relations and Anthropology. Through a study abroad experience focused on environmental science and sustainability, she became passionate steward of the environment. Kelly has worked with children in various different capacities over the years as a camp counselor, nanny, and program manager of a experiential semester abroad in India. Kelly moved out to Washington to join the CMS team where she shares her excitement for exploring new environments with students in a variety of subjects.


Sunday, July 22- Tuesday, July 24. Sense of Place, Water Resources Use in the Valley & Ecological Agriculture. For the first four days of the course, the group will develop our sense of place and community with the Trout Lake Valley and each other.  We will camp at Broadfork Farm, an organic homestead, as we learn about water resource use in the valley.  We’ll learn about the interconnected systems of Mt. Adams, the White Salmon River, and Trout Lake Valley as we begin to develop our connection to water.


Wednesday, July 25- Saturday, July 28. Introduction to Field Methods, Carnivores & Glaciers of the Mt. Adams Wilderness. The Round-the-Mountain Trail circumvents the western half of Mt. Adams. For four days, we’ll backpack on a portion of the trail, learning about the glaciers, geology, and ecology of Mt. Adams. We’ll spend a day working with carnivore biologist Dr. Jocelyn Akins to learn her field research methods to track carnivores, including foxes and mountain lions. We’ll return from Mt. Adams to the valley having learned a diverse set of backcountry survival and research skills. 


Saturday, July 28- Saturday, August 4. Field Research & Communication. For the last week of the course, we’ll build on the field research methods we learned the first week as we continue to monitor the water quality of the White Salmon River with the Underwood Conservation District and Mt. Adams Wilderness. Participants will design their own small research project to execute, whether interviewing local stakeholders who rely on the Trout Lake Creek for irrigation water or comparing the health of riparian buffers in the upper and lower Trout Lake Valley. Participants will also hone their science communication skills and host a community forum to present what they learned in the Field Ecology course to the diverse community of Trout Lake. On Saturday, August 4, we’ll wrap up the course rafting the middle and lower White Salmon River with All Adventures Rafting to celebrate all we have learned!


Cascade Mountain School, a program of Mt. Adams Institute

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