About KEEN

Camp logo for t-shirts
Yakima Canyon Interpretive Center
Pond to Pines Summer Camp
Send a kid to camp 2018
Helen McCabe Park - pond
Helen McCabe Park
Fishing Platforms
Habitat Restoration
Habitat Restoration
river bridge - Copy
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YCIC Logo owl high qual_edited_edited
summer camp 2016 kids
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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 20 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 5th 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. 


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.

Tim Bow - KEEN Board Member

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Teo Bicchieri - KEEN Board Member

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Landon Shaffer - Stewardship Team Leader

Megan Rivard - Education Committee Member

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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. 

Alisha Blanchard - KEEN Board Member

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Carlyn Saunders Moser - Summer Camp and Education Lead

Holding a BA in anthropology from Millersville University of Pennsylvania, Carlyn Moser focuses on connecting people with the natural world. As an active board member and secretary for KEEN, she devotes her time to organizing and implementing community events. Carlyn has worked with the Sierra Club as an outreach representative for Central Washington, encouraging residents to explore their local public lands, safely and responsibly. Through her work at her colleges’ challenge courses and as a kayak instructor and guide in the North Cascades National Park, she has instructed a wide variety of individuals including elementary students, fellow college peers, and corporate team-building groups. By creating an all-inclusive atmosphere focused on stewardship education, Carlyn educates both front-country first-timers as well as back-country veterans.

Rebecca Wassell - Education Committee Chair


Martha Kurtz - Education Committee member


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Mailing Address

414 South Willow Street

Ellensburg, WA 98926



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