The Kittitas Environmental Education Network (KEEN) was established as a 501(c)3 in 2000 and has been operating in Kittitas County as an all-volunteer organization for the past 21 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.
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, the Yakima River Canyon Bird Fest, Urban Stream Walk, and the WindFall Cider Fest & Roots Music. We collaborate with subject-area experts for field trip leaders, speakers, and provide learning opportunities and connections to affinity groups at all our events. Our goal is to share and build the strong sense of place that KEEN recognizes in Kittitas County, particularly the endangered shrub-steppe habitat.
KEEN’s Nature School programs include Pond to Pines Summer Camp that runs for 6 weeks each summer, and 4th grade camp for all schools in Ellensburg. This year, due to the COVID-19 crisis, KEEN started a new school-year program called Earth Explorers. This program aims to get K-8th grade students off their computers and into the outdoors for a supplemental environmental education program.
Our Stewardship Team takes care of Helen McCabe Memorial State Park - the future home of the Yakima Canyon Interpretive Center. Since 2004, KEEN has worked to re-establish native plant communities, manage invasive weeds, build trails, run all our nature school programs, and expand the use and stewardship of the park. This park space is also a hub for much of our outreach in the greater Kittitas County area. We are currently negotiating an additional 50-year lease renewal that will allow us to manage the park in its entirety and move towards returning ecosystem functionality and ecological services on this property on the outskirts of Ellensburg WA.
KEEN consists of a Board of Directors of highly committed individuals (currently 9 members), and several active committees including education and stewardship. We have 2 full time outdoor educators and 2 part time assistants operating Earth Explorers and Pond to Pines Summer Camp. Geographically KEEN focuses our work on Kittitas County, but KEEN is active in partnering with groups throughout Central Washington. Our annual budget averages between $150,000 to $200,000.
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.
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
Who are the KEENers?
Jill is one of the original founders of the Kittitas Environmental Education Network (KEEN) non-profit based in Ellensburg WA. Her educational background is in Geography and Environmental Studies from the University of Victoria in BC. Jill served on the Ellensburg City Council for 9 years and participated in many committee positions for the City and County including the flood control district and lodging tax committee. She worked for 11 years as the Central Washington Director of Forterra, the largest land conservation organization in the state. She is currently the Section Planner for the Toxics Cleanup Program at the Department of Ecology. Her two loves are her son and daughter who together explore the outdoors and also share their family love of music and dance. Jill serves as Vice President on the Ellensburg Dance Ensemble and you might see her on stage in a production of The Nutcracker Ballet around Christmas time.
Raised in the center of the beautiful Kittitas Valley, Teo went on to graduate from CWU with a B.S. Environmental and Resource Geography and GIS Certificate. After earning his M.A. in Geography from the National University of Ireland, Galway, he lived, worked, and traveled overseas and around the United States before returning to Ellensburg where he lives with his wife and daughter. Teo currently works at FISH, a local food access nonprofit, and serves as the Secretary of KEEN’s Board.
A lifelong Washingtonian, Megan was raised in the Puget Sound and spent many vacations in Ellensburg visiting family and friends. Camping and hiking were favorite family activities and she loved exploring new places and getting outside. She graduated from Western Washington University with a BA in Sociology in 2005 and shortly thereafter served in Americorps as a crewmember in the Washington Conservation Corps. From there her career has focused on resource development and communications for non-profits.
She's currently a freelance communications professional that does her best to maintain a work-life balance, especially in regard to spending time with her husband and toddler. When not working, volunteering, or being crawled all over by a tiny human or feline, you'll most likely find her playing ukulele or eating some delicious food her husband has cooked up.
She's excited to have found such a good fit in serving on the Board at KEEN where her love of nature and conservation meets her background in resource development and communications.
Allyson is a KEEN board member. Originally from South Africa, Allyson made her way to Ellensburg via California, Montana, Minnesota, New Hampshire, and Wisconsin. She is currently a professor in the science and math education department at Central Washington University. Along with her husband and two children, she enjoys the many opportunities for outdoor recreation that Ellensburg offers. Allyson is excited to serve on the board as she is passionate about providing opportunities for everyone, especially young people, to have opportunities to learn and recreate in nature.
Board Member and Fundraising Committee Chair
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.
Environmental Education Director
Holding a BA in anthropology from Millersville University of Pennsylvania, Carlyn focuses on connecting people with the natural world. 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.
Nature School Lead Teacher
Growing up in the Methow Valley, Jennifer was immersed in a vast, rural landscape that provided many opportunities to witness mother nature in action. As a child she experienced ice dams, flooding, fires, violent thunderstorms, impressively long winters, and massive amounts of snow. These experiences led to a constant questioning and wonder of the natural world around us. A love of nature and natural curiosity are qualities that Jennifer hopes to instill and foster in KEEN’s nature school.
Before CWU, Kids, and KEEN she spent her days behind the counter at William’s Florist where she was a floral designer. Mom to four and longtime Lincoln Elementary volunteer, she is happy to get back to her first love: children. When not at KEEN, Jennifer can be found in her garden, cooking, working on various art projects or making plans for a future sustainable off grid mountain cabin.