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