One morning in July, Sierra Campbell awoke in a tent and unzipped the flap to a view of mountain prairie bathed in sunlight. Though she’d been exploring Washington for weeks, the scene touched the UW sophomore from Fife in a way that reinforced her desire to make a difference in the environment.
It was one of many impressions Campbell collected through the summer as she and a diverse group of undergraduates took a crash course in the region’s natural resources. At the start of the season, Campbell and UW classmate Hannah Wilson packed their backpacks and laced up their boots to join about 20 students from around the country for an eight-week intensive survey of the state, seeing industrial sites and wilderness ecosystems and meeting a range of people from park rangers to urban activists.
They toured a Superfund site with the Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition and learned about grassroots efforts there to protect fish, wildlife and human health. They studied salmon and dams on the Skagit River, wandered through a landscape managed for thousands of years by the Quinault people, and visited exposed areas of the Elwha River that had been underwater behind a dam for more than a century.