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KEEN Connects: What's going on outside in Kittitas County this summer

KEEN connects us living in Kittitas county to the environment through the hosting of community events throughout the year. Events such as KEEN’s Ponds to Pines summer camp, younger members of the community are able to connect to the natural world while having fun.

Our Second Sunday nature walks are another opportunity for people of all ages to learn about their local surroundings and environment from knowledgeable specialists on diverse range various environmental topics. For those who wish to connect in a casual setting, Green Drinks gives a chance to meet with others and socialize about the topics that we all find important. Regardless of age or personal interest, KEEN hosts events during the coming summer months, that allow for both individuals and families to participate in community building.

With summer break just around the corner, many parents face the annual endeavor of balancing schedules with the open ended days ahead. While digital media has become a sizable part of youth, this doesn’t negate the worthwhile experiences that a child can gain by getting their hands dirty and playing with bugs. The nine weeks of KEEN sponsored summer camp at Helen McCabe Park creates an avenue for K-9th grade students to connect with the environment. Each week of summer camp explores a different subject, from wildlife to habitat and aquatic explorations to nature’s playground, that allows for a well rounded and diverse environmental experience. Each camp segment has been specially developed for the distinct needs of the given age group to ensure that it keeps children engaged throughout the course. The first week of Ponds to Pines camp began on June 19, with continuing availability across all of the summer break.

For those looking for a opportunity to get outside and enjoy the nice weekends this summer, KEEN’s Second Sunday Nature Walks might be an exact fit. Every second Sunday of each month KEEN engages community members of all ages at our expert lead nature walks. These events are open to both curious individuals and families alike, looking for a weekend activity that is outside of the ordinary. Each event is tailored around a specific theme, but changes each month, with topics that have varied from local mycology to nature sketching instruction. While each are hosted by a local professional who leads the conversation, these are not your traditional classroom experiences, but rather an opportunity to discover. The outdoor setting and small group sizes allow for an intimate and low-key educational experience.

If you are looking to give your hiking boots a break, KEEN will be continuing to host environmentally themed social functions throughout these warmer months. During the evenings of the First Friday Artwalk in downtown Ellensburg, join us at the event space (back room) at the Iron Horse Pub for spirited conversations about current issues. KEEN’s Green Drinks is an open dialogue about the connection between national and local issues and their impacts at home. This 21 and over networking event creates an opportunity for folks of various backgrounds to come together and tackle thought provoking issues. This monthly social event cultivates citizen activism while enjoy some of the finest beer in the region. Topics are not preset, so everyone from college undergrads to longtime environmental professionals have the opportunity to steer the direction of the conversation. All members of the community are welcome, regardless of their environmental knowledge or political leaning. We look forward to discussing a dynamic array of environmental and social topics with you at our next Green Drinks.

Whether you are looking for events throughout the summer, or just for an evening, KEEN will be hosting an array of happenings open to all. Each of these events connects members of our community with local environmental issues and, most importantly with each other. There has not been a time in our social history where standing as a community has been more important. Whether you choose to join us for one of our events, or all of them scheduled throughout the summer, we look forward to seeing everyone and getting to learn more about our local environment together. Together we can build a stronger informed community that resists misinformation by being engaged and informed. To learn more about the Pines to Pond summer camp program, the Second Sunday Nature Walks, Green Drinks at Iron Horse Pub, or just to connect with us please visit our website at or through our Facebook at

KEEN Connects is a monthly column produced by the Kittitas Environmental Education Network (KEEN) board members and volunteers. Ernie Farmer is a Disaster Response Specialist with the Washington State Department of Ecology Washington Conservation Corps. He has responded to local, national and international emergencies including Hurricane Sandy, the Oso Landslide, and Typhoo Soudelor in Saipan.

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