Education about the natural world brings people together

A quick drive over snowy Snoqualmie Pass, fueled by coffee and talk of hiking, adventuring, and fun jobs, landed Greenway representatives in Ellensburg. Teacher Ali Parizer, Intern Noah Pylvainen and Education Program Manager Sally Kentch staffed a Greenway booth at the e3 Winter Fair, organized by Kittitas Environmental Education Network (KEEN) to celebrate the 3 Es: education, environment and economy with Kittitas County residents.

Think organic produce, balloons for kids, face painting, wind farms, hiking ideas, salmon information, solid waste, and land use.  The diversity of exhibitors enticed farmers, business people, families, retirees interested in the environment, and government employees to attend. A bonus for Greenway staff was meeting Carol Borkowski who completed the original Greenway Trek and Sue Hegley who has hiked the Greenway twice with family members.

The warm, relaxed atmosphere of the event provided a nice context for Greenway educators to teach a lesson on fire ecology. Greenway volunteer Mark Boyd created a mural with five panels depicting different ecosystems in various stages of health. For example, one panel depicted a forest with trees too close together, lots of woody debris (read fuel) on the ground and bare branches climbing up the trunk. Another panel was a healthy meadow ecosystem and so on.  Participants were encouraged to create a healthy ecosystem using animals, drawing, and representational objects.  We then posed the question “What would happen in this ecosystem if it caught on fire?”

Students young and old imagined what a forest, park or town would look like in the presence of fire. It is never too early to learn about fire and how it affects the places where we live, work and play.