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Volume 28
Number 1
Spring 2011
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[Photo] Cascade Climate Challenge students pose on top of Cascade Pass. The day's topic was alpine ecology and the role of the Cascades snowpack. Feature
Cascades Climate Challenge: Taking home the lessons of glaciers

By Megan McGinty
Published: 15 Jan 2014 (online)  •  30 Jan 2014 (in print)
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The North Cascades National Park Complex (Washington) is in the heart of the most heavily glaciated area in the contiguous United States. Iconic and defining features of the Pacific Northwest, these glaciers are places where physical evidence of climate change in North America is most easily seen and interpreted. However, given the difficulty of accessing the North Cascades backcountry, few of the people affected by the glaciers’ recession ever see them, and of those, fewer still fully understand the effects of their disappearance.

A new outreach model is working to change that. The Cascades Climate Challenge (CCC) program brings youth from across the Pacific Northwest to the North Cascades, where they can witness firsthand the glaciers and their effects on surrounding ecosystems. After a three-week field experience, they are charged with taking the message back by way of a service project in their home communities, teaching others about climate change. The program was born in 2009 from a partnership among the National Park Foundation, the North Cascades National Park Complex, and North Cascades Institute, a private nonprofit educational organization. Today the program is run by North Cascades Institute, fulfilling the goal of creating teen ambassadors who can relay the message of climate change in effective and credible terms, especially to younger audiences. Each summer, 40 high school students participate in a field session based at North Cascades Institute’s campus in the park, the North Cascades Environmental Learning Center. Half attend in July and the second half go in August. In exchange for the tuition-free trip, each participant agrees to reach 20 other people in his or her home community. “We try to recruit kids who are going to speak to audiences that we have difficulty reaching, whether it’s a religious community, English-as-a-second-language populations, or just other teenagers,” said CCC lead instructor Aneka Singlaub. “This way, not only do 40 students reach 800 other people, they reach 800 people who weren’t likely to see [the park] in the first place.”

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This page updated:  19 July 2011
URL: http://www.nature.nps.gov/ParkScience/index.cfm?ArticleID=487&Page=1



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Special Issue: Climate Change Adaptation & Communication
Climate change scenario planning: A tool for managing parks into uncertain futures
Climate-Friendly Park Employees: The Intermountain Region's climate change training assessment
The Strategic Framework for Science in Support of Management in the Southern Sierra Nevada, California
Alternative futures for fire management under a changing climate
Sustainable fire: Preserving carbon stocks and protecting air quality
Audience segmentation as a tool for communicating climate change
NPS climate change talking points
Communicating climate change at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
Citizen scientists in action: Providing baseline data for climate-sensitive species
Using citizen science to study saguaros and climate change at Saguaro National Park
  Cascades Climate Challenge: Taking home the lessons of glaciers
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