Kittitas Environmental Education Network
KEEN's mission is to cultivate an active understanding of the impacts of climate change on the endangered shrub-steppe and foster commitment to environmental stewardship by providing culturally relevant nature-based education. Our main project is to establish the Yakima Canyon Interpretive Center (YCIC) at Helen McCabe Memorial Park near Ellensburg, WA.
KEEN’s Nature School and direct environmental education programming is expanding. Our goal is nature-immersion programming for all ages. We have tuition-based programs, Pond to Pines Summer Camp, KEEN's Mountaineers, and KEEN's Adventure Apprentice Program, and free community programs including Windy City Park Rangers and 4th Grade Camp.
YAKIMA CANYON INTERPRETIVE CENTER
This project represents an unparalleled opportunity to engage visitors and community members of all ages in outdoor education, draw tourists to Central Washington, undertake environmental stewardship and habitat restoration, and accomplish protection of the endangered shrub-steppe biome.
KEEN believes in lifelong-learning and provides informal environmental educational opportunities for kids, adults and seniors. KEEN hosts annual events including Winter Fair, Get Intimate with the Shrub-Steppe & Yakima River Canyon Bird Fest, WindFall Cider Fest, and Urban Streams and Brews. We collaborate with subject-area experts for field trip leaders, speakers, and provide learning opportunities and connections to affinity groups at all our events.
Since 2004, KEEN has worked to re-establish native plant communities, build trails, teach outdoor classes, and expand the use and stewardship of Helen McCabe Park. Our goal is to share and build the strong sense of place that KEEN recognizes in Kittitas County, particularly the endangered shrub-steppe habitat.
Our nation’s future relies on a well-educated public to be wise stewards of the very environment that sustains us, our families and communities, and future generations. It is environmental education which can best help us as individuals make the complex, conceptual connections between economic prosperity, benefits to society, environmental health, and our own well-being. Ultimately, the collective wisdom of our citizens, gained through education, will be the most compelling and most successful strategy for environmental management.
The future home of the Yakima Canyon Interpretive Center rests on the ancestral lands of the Pshwánapam people (fourteen Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation). The people of the Yakama Nation inhabited more than 12 million acres across Adams, Benton, Chelan, Douglas, Franklin, Grant, Kittitas, Klickitat, and Yakima Counties. We honor those peoples who are tied to the land through history, legends, and culture. We acknowledge their descendants who live in the world today. We thank the caretakers of this land, who have lived here and continue to live here since time immemorial.
An acknowledgment is a simple, powerful way to show respect, and a step toward correcting the stories and practices that erase Indigenous people’s history and culture. It also honors the truth.