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 - firstname.lastname@example.org