About KEEN

Our Story

 

KEEN was established as a 501(c)3 in 2000 and have been operating in Kittitas County as an all-volunteer organization for the past 19 years.

Our mission is to cultivate an active awareness and understanding of the endangered shrub-steppe, provide nature-based education for all ages, and strengthen commitment to environmental stewardship.

Our primary goal is to establish (design, construct and operate) the Yakima Canyon Interpretive Center near Ellensburg, WA. The Interpretive Center will serve as the gathering place for our community, for visitors to our community, and for engaging and connecting to nature in Central Washington. As the gateway to the Yakima River Canyon Scenic Byway, the Interpretive Center will invite lifelong learners to become active informed citizens, and provide a sense of place to this land we love.

KEEN believes in lifelong-learning and provides informal educational opportunities for kids, adults and seniors.  KEEN hosts the annual Get Intimate with the Shrub-Steppe event; a series of expert-led field trips, lectures and educational booths that highlight the surrounding endangered landscape, plant and animal communities, weather and geology that together create such a strong sense of place for Central Washington.

 

KEEN also hosts the annual Winter Fair; an environmental farmers market that celebrates the intersection of environment, education and economy. Additionally KEEN convenes informal environmental educators and their organizations in our area to plan our annual event calendars, share best practices and connect volunteers with opportunities to volunteer.

Nature School programs include summer camp, 4th grade camp, and outdoor pre-school (run in partnership with Washington Outdoor School). Our Pond to Pines Summer Nature Day Camp is in it's 4th year of operation! Hundreds of kids 'get outside' for camp each year. We fill up - register early!

Our Stewardship Team takes care of Helen McCabe Memorial State Park - the future home of the Yakima Canyon Interpretive Center. We have lots of volunteer opportunities. Find out more here! 

 

KEEN consists of a Board of Directors of highly committed individuals, and several active committees that focus on specific tasks/projects (40+ people). Geographically KEEN focuses our work on Kittitas County, but KEEN is active in partnering with groups that expand down the Yakima River Valley through Yakima and Benton Counties.  

 Our Values – What We Believe

 

  • Power of Community – we encourage people to see themselves as part of a diverse community of nature enthusiasts within the community of nature.

  • Respect for all life – we show respect for all living things by seeking to understand, by celebrating diverse viewpoints, and by acting with kindness and empathy.

  • Personal Experience – we believe there is no substitute for being IN nature. We maintain our lands for maximum biodiversity to provide unique personal experiences and education.

  • Frequent experiences in nature are critical to the physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual health of all people.

  • Stewardship of the Land – we recognize the interdependence of all living things and strive to maintain the web of life by preserving, restoring, and protecting our land.

  • Commitment to Sustainability – we make choices that are environmentally responsible, economically viable, and socially equitable for the long term stability of our organization, our region and the earth. 

KEEN is recruiting for new board members! We are a 'working board' and we all engage in event planning, fundraising, and fiscal management of the organization. If you can share your expertise and passion for environmental education with a commitment of 4-8 hours per month we'd love to welcome you on board! Let us hear from you - kittitasee@gmail.com 

Who are the KEENers?

Jill Scheffer - KEEN Board President

Jill is one of the original founders of KEEN - way back in 1999 -  who returned to KEEN in 2006 to lead the board into a new era of education, outreach, events, and planning for the Yakima Canyon Interpretive Center. Her educational background is in Geography and Environmental Studies from the University of Victoria in BC. She is currently the Director of the Kittitas Valley Event Center, a Principal at Sage Consulting Group, and an elected member of the Ellensburg City Council. She previously for Forterra, the region's largest conservation and community building organization as the Senior Conservation Director and Director of the Central Washington Program. Her two loves are her son and daughter who together explore the outdoors and also share their family love of music and dance. 

kittitasee@gmail.com

Stefanie Wickstrom - KEEN Board Treasurer

Stefanie has been on the KEEN board since 2008 and works as our treasurer.  She lived in the Sonora Desert as a child, and then suffered adolescence in the temperate rain forest on the west side of the Cascades.  The Kittitas Valley has been her home off and on since she studied at CWU in the mid-1980s.  After getting a degree in political science in 1988, she went on to get an MA in Latin American studies at the University of Arizona and a PhD in political science at the University of Oregon.  She wrote her dissertation on the political ecology of development and indigenous peoples in Panama and the United States, focusing on experiences of the Ngöbe, Kuna, Zuni and Skokomish societies. She has worked as a professor of environmental studies and politics at Green Mountain College in Vermont and as a senior lecturer at CWU in World Languages and Cultures, Political Science, Environmental Studies, and Interdisciplinary Social Sciences.  She participates in educating our community about the ecosystems of our region and how people have lived in, loved, and cared for nature over the ages.

Jerry Scoville - KEEN Board Fundraising Director

Jerry Scoville is on the board of directors at Kittitas Environmental Education Network (KEEN), assisting with fund raising.  He is an Adjunct Professor and Research Associate at Central Washington University (CWU).  Prior to moving to Ellensburg, Jerry was associated with Round River Conservation Studies (RRCS) for 13 years, and worked with Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF); Save The Rhino Trust (SRT); Turner Foundation; American Museum of Natural History (AMNH); QQS Projects Society; Heiltsuk’s Big House Society; an assist to William G. Housty and CoastWatch in mid-coastal British Columbia.  Jerry spent 5 years working on Grizzly Bears in Heiltsuk Territory, British Columbia, that culminated in a seminal 2014 peer-review paper titled “Grizzly bear monitoring by the Heiltsuk people as a crucible for First Nation conservation practice”  [in] Ecology and Society 19(2): 70, which has a series of tenets that has empowered indigenous peoples worldwide.  More recently, he has been working on frogs of the Solomon Islands in northern Melanesia.  In addition, Jerry has had a lifelong interest in avian ecology and evolution.  He has two children.  His partner, Alison, recently received tenure at Cental Washington University.  In his spare time he enjoys hunting and fishing.

Landon Shaffer - Stewardship Lead

Board Member

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Thatcher Montgomery - KEEN Secretary

 

Gary Cox - KEEN Board Member

Gary R. Cox obtained his Bachelor of Science from Southern Illinois University in Plant & Soil Science, his Master of Science from Washington State University in Agronomy & Soils, is a Master Watershed Stewart  dedicated to balancing water rights for both fisheries and agriculture, a Certified Hazardous Materials Manager minimizing the impact of chemical usage on the environment, an Instructor of Agroecosystems at Yakima Valley Community College for over seven years teaching Sustainability, Terroir, and Biodynamics, and an avid fly-fisherman on the quality waters of the nearby Yakima River. In 1998 he planted Cox Canyon Vineyards, 7 acres of which is in production. This West sloping site on an alluvial deposited Benwy silt loam soil laid down upon the uplifted basalts which form the entrance to the Wild & Scenic Yakima River Canyon. This 18 year old planting shows great promise and has resulted in award winning wines being produced at the 697th licensed winery in Washington: Ellensburg Canyon Winery. 

Sarah Maes - KEEN Board Member

 

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Mailing Address

414 South Willow Street

Ellensburg, WA 98926

kittitasee@ycic.org 

509-551-8807

© 2017 by KEEN. Proudly created with Wix.com

 

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