WCCW Graduates first Roots class – photo gallery

by Joslyn Rose Trivett, SPP Network Manager

Last Friday, Liliana Caughman and I had honor of joining Washington Corrections Center for Women (WCCW)’s graduation ceremony for their first Roots of Success class. Sadly, we had to leave before the cake (five of them, and they spelled R-O-O-T-S), but we stayed long enough to soak up a whole lot of pride and happiness. Here is my photo gallery of the graduates and their audience.



Graduate Lacinda Gadbaw was the first to stand and be recognized by her classmates.


Surrounded by her fellow graduates, Roots of Success graduate Kandyce Benefield acknowledges applause.


All three members of WCCW’s senior staff attended: seated in the back row, from the right, are Associate Superintendent David Flynn, Superintendent Dona Zavislan, and Associate Superintendent Felice Davis.


Unlike other graduations I have attended, this one included an audience of invited peers; it was gratifying to see graduates recognized by their in-prison friends and family.


SPP Sustainable Operations Manager Julie Vanneste was key to initiating Roots in Washington State prisons. At this celebration, she offered to the graduates her heart-felt congratulations and admiration.


Roots instructors Renee Curtiss (center) and Teresa Settle (right) applaud their students. Both were certified as class instructors this past May. Paula Andrew, a champion of SPP programs for WCCW, sits next to them.


Jeannette Murphy is a current Evergreen student, and has participated in several SPP programs. It was wonderful to see her become a Roots grad too! Ms. Murphy will work with SPP on the process for awarding Evergreen credit for the course.


Roots graduate Darlene McClellan served as the class fact-checker. During the ceremony, she volunteered facts that illustrated the importance of environmental knowledge and solutions.


Graduate Jasmine Van Guilder stands to be acknowledged by her peers and the assembled audience.


And finally, a studious moment during a Roots class last month, when Green Track and Lecture Series Coordinators visited. Photo by Emily Passarelli.

Live Falcon and Certification Ceremony makes Lecture Soar

Our friends at the West Sound Wildlife Shelter sure know how to draw a crowd. Their most recent lecture at Washington Corrections Center for Women (WCCW) drew the highest attendance we have ever seen: 92 inmates attended, blowing the previous record of 84 attendees out of the water!


The women at WCCW are passionate about wildlife and were completely enthralled by special guest Pele, the loveable American kestrel. When the trainers, Nancy and Debra, unveiled the raptor the students let out a collective gasp and then fell dead-quiet; the demonstrated respect was inspiring to witness.


Inmate students look on in awe as the American Kestrel Falcon is revealed at the Science and Sustainability lecture.

The presentation was engaging and enjoyable. The inmates asked a host of thought-provoking questions and many wanted to know how they could make a difference in the lives of birds. The guest lecturers provided detailed answers and explained how the women could volunteer for the West Sound Wildlife animal shelter upon release.


Nancy LeMay, the handler from West Sound Wildlife, brings Pele closer to the audience.

This was a very special lecture. Perhaps another reason for the large crowd was the certification ceremony. We distributed 12 certificates to those who have reached Lecture Series attendance milestones.

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Each inmate student who earned a certificate came up to the front of the class and shook hands with Liliana Caughman, the Lecture Series Program Coordinator.

The lecture class was excited to celebrate their personal achievements and those of their peers. Four people were awarded Level Two certificates for attending 10 or more lectures, and eight more were awarded the first level of certification, given after 5 lectures. Many inmates approached me after the lecture to share that they are motivated to keep attending in order to reach the third level of certification, which recommends college credit.

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Inmate Cicely McFarland is thrilled to receive her first certificate for attending five Science and Sustainability Lectures.

This lecture was a resounding success. We owe great thanks to our star presenters from West Sound Wildlife Shelter, and of course, to the animals themselves. Further, I am very proud of the women who earned their certificates and felt honored to be a part of a positive milestone in their lives.

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A big thanks goes out to the star of the show, Pele, and we appreciate the dedication of Nancy, Deb, and West Sound Wildlife animal shelter.

I think I can speak for women of the WCCW lecture series when I say we can’t wait for the next live animal presentation or the next certificate ceremony. Maybe next time we will reach 100 attendees!

From Poop to Employment: Jonathan Jones-Thomas shares his experience returning to prison as a guest lecturer

By Jonathan C. Jones-Thomas, Group Three Wastewater Treatment Plant Operator
Photos by Tiffany Webb, SPP Lecture Series Coordinator

Going back to prison to talk to inmates about job opportunities in the industry of wastewater treatment through SPP was indescribable. To return 1 ½ years after serving a 10-year sentence for assault… I told myself I would never go back. I didn’t know I would have the opportunity to go back to encourage others to walk my path, seek out healthy relationships and green job opportunities.

The author poses in the parking lot of Stafford Creek Corrections Center.

The author poses in the parking lot of Stafford Creek Corrections Center.

While incarcerated at the Monroe Correctional Complex (Monroe, WA), I was introduced to the wastewater industry by a “white man” by the name of Brian Funk. Being “black” myself, I didn’t expect to be introduced to education or employment opportunities by “white dudes”. Brian was unique in that he didn’t care about all the prison politics involved with “looking out for your own kind”. He was the type to “just do the right thing”. As the result, four years later, I type this at a computer working for a municipality in Snohomish County; I make good money, and Brian works next to me. He had no idea his small investment in the “black guy” would lead to a career in wastewater for the both of us, plus a plethora of opportunities to encourage others to do the same thing.

We were invited to speak at Stafford Creek Corrections Center (Aberdeen, WA) by Kristin Covey, a Brightwater employee. Brightwater is the upper echelon of wastewater treatment in the state of Washington. Kristin was invited by SPP to present at the prison and decided it would be best to bring two guys along that have been “in” and are now “out” in the industry. Before arriving, Tiffany Webb, SPP Lecture Series Program Coordinator, made clear that there was a growing interest in green jobs post prison. During the two hour drive, Brian and I formulated a plan to maximize our time with the offenders, knowing that there was a unique opportunity for them to hear about the pitfalls and challenges first hand.


Kristin Covey, Brian Funk, and Jonathan C. Jones-Thomas, three experts in waste water treatment, co-presented to a mesmerized audience.

Walking into the prison was extremely stressful. In the back of my mind I knew I would be leaving in a matter of hours, but in my emotions…I waited to leave prison for 9 years 21 days and here I am inside again. But this time Brian and I have the reputation of SPP and wastewater industry professional, Kristin Covey, arriving and leaving with us. Walking through the breezeway, I looked at all the other fellow inmates thinking, “I wonder if they know I’m one of them.” Brian, having spent time at Stafford Creek Corrections Center, was greeted by a number of fellow inmates. It made me feel more comfortable knowing that they knew we too have walked that breezeway. By the time I got to the classroom I was ready to present. The fifty or so folks that showed up were ready to learn about the career opportunities in the wastewater industry. They didn’t know that I would bombard them with a lesson in life skills. Hopefully, Brian and I made it clear: you don’t get to get out of prison and maintain success in any industry, or life for that matter, without personal growth. Education is the key to a successful, sustainable transition back to society. It was awesome…

Brian and Jonathan C. Jones-Thomas learned about waste water treatment in-prison and went on to make it a career after release.

Brian Funk and Jonathan C. Jones-Thomas learned about waste water treatment while incarcerated, and they have turned their expertise into careers.

Frog Release 2015: Celebrating the Program that Paved the Way!

by SPP Program Manager, Kelli Bush

On October 6th, SPP partners from Department of Corrections and The Evergreen State College gathered with representatives from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Northwest Trek, and Woodland Park Zoo to release frogs into a Pierce County wetland. This marks the sixth season of the partnership raising federally-threatened Oregon spotted frogs at Cedar Creek Corrections Center (Cedar Creek). It was a joyous occasion as all the partners gathered to release frogs from the three rearing programs.This year Cedar Creek raised 167 frogs and they have raised a total of 879 frogs since the program started in 2009.

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Two Oregon spotted frogs pause for moment before taking a leap into their new home. Photo by Sadie Gilliom.

The program is likely to end while scientists focus on learning more about effective recovery strategies. The likely suspension of the program provides an opportunity to reflect on successes and the many contributors who have dedicated their time to this effort.


Inmate Technician Mr. Anglemeyer saying goodbye to the frogs. Photo by Sadie Gilliom.

The Oregon Spotted Frog program is the first known prison animal conservation program in the United States. We were able to do this work because several key science partners were convinced that a collaborative program operated in prisons could contribute to species recovery. Special thanks to biologists Jim Lynch and Marc Hays for recognizing the potential of this program.

Since the program started, 13 inmate technicians have received herpetological training and education. SPP inmate technicians have matched the success of programs hosted at zoo facilities. The current technicians, Mr. Boysen and Mr. Anglemyer, have done excellent work!


Mr. Boysen measuring frogs with Frog and Turtle Coordinator, Sadie Gilliom. Photo by SPP Liaison Ms. Sibley.

Four corrections staff have served as the SPP Liaison for the program. Each of these staff have accepted this work in addition to their regular duties. Thanks to Ms. Sibley, the current program liaison—her time and dedication has been so important to program operation. Also, special thanks to Superintendent Doug Cole for years of enthusiastic support for the program.


Ms. Sibley, SPP Liaison holding a tomato from the greenhouse. Photo by Joslyn Trivett.


Superintendent Cole holding an Oregon spotted frog. Photo by Sadie Gilliom.

Six graduate students from Evergreen’s Masters of Environmental Studies program have served as program coordinator. Each student makes important contributions and improvements to the program. Sadie Gilliom is the current program coordinator. Sadie’s program contributions have included science seminars, animal behavior studies, and updated outreach materials.


Sadie Gilliom releasing a frog. Photo by Kelli Bush.

The Oregon Spotted Frog program at Cedar Creek paved the way for conservation programs in prisons. Through the success of this first program, collaborators proved conservation work can be done well in prisons, and that it can be rewarding for everyone involved.

As a result, new conservation programs have been started in Washington prisons and prisons in other states. SPP partners at Cedar Creek will continue caring for Western pond turtles, another species in need. Now that the frogs are gone we will be keeping an eye out for new science and sustainability programs to introduce to the prison. May these new programs be as successful as the frogs!


The SPP frog release team. Photo by frog recovery team collaborator.

Roots of Success Graduation Speech

This speech was presented by Roots of Success graduate Robert Mayo on July 22, 2015; shared here with his permission.

Good Afternoon.

My name is Robert Mayo and I’m here today because I completed Roots of Success.

I would like to take this moment to show the utmost respect and give gratitude towards all of those who were involved in Roots of Success.

First and foremost, I would like to thank Dr. Raquel Pinderhughes [Roots founder], Mr. Aleksinski [SCCC Roots Liaison and Classification Counselor] and the rest of the supporting cast up here today that made all of this possible. Next, I would like to thank Mr. Walrond, Mr. Mitchell, Mr. Duhaime and Mr. Powers for doing such an amazing job instructing us. And lastly, I would like to thank all of us here today who are receiving certificates, because today we all proved to ourselves that hard work, dedication and determination truly pays off!


Mr. Mayo gives a speech at the Roots of Success graduation. Photo by Joslyn Trivett.

Before Roots of Success I had the mind frame to put things off until tomorrow. I was a procrastinatorand I hated to try anything new or anything I wasn’t good at. For example, PUBLIC SPEAKING! This has been one of my biggest fears throughout my entire life. Even as a kid, I can still recall the feelings I felt when having to speak in front of the class. My heartbeat would start to speed up. My hands would become all sweaty. My armpits would start to drip. And my mind would picture everyone in the classroom laughing at me. IT WAS HORRIBLE! I remember telling Mr. Walrond about this when I first started Roots of Success. He told me that by the end of this course not only will I be able to speak in front of any crowd, but I will be able to do it with confidence and conviction. That conversation was just a few short months ago and today I’m happy to be able to have Mr. Walrond’s prediction come to fruition.

50+ inmates graduate from Roots of Success. Photo by Joslyn Trivett.

Over 50 Roots of Success graduates listening to a speech. Photo by Joslyn Trivett.

You see, Roots of Success didn’t only teach me how to make my environment a better place for me to live in, but it also taught me how to become a better person within my environment. My favorite modules were “Community Organizing and Leadership” and “Financial Literacy and Social Entreprneurship.” These two modules really hit home for me. I never realized all the procedures being taken to make certain laws come into effect. I was unaware of people going to local town hall meetings to fight against the major corporations that are placing factories inside of their communities without their permission. Or the ongoing battle that’s been prevalent all across the U.S. between minorities and The Department of Justice on police brutality. Or the parents who protest constantly about the lack of education their children are receiving throughout their low income neighborhoods. If I choose to fight when I get out of here these are the types of fights that I want to be a part of. As a collective, we have the power to make a difference! We have the power to make our voices heard! We have the power to take action! So why don’t we?

Roots of Success students study together in a group.

Roots of Success students study together in a group during a regular class. Photo by Joslyn Trivett.

In the “Financial Literacy and Social Entrepreneurship” module, I learned how to fill out an application correctly. I learned what I should wear, how I should talk and what I should do when going in for an interview. I know now how to set short and long term goals, how to budget my finances and how to live comfortably within my means. I got something from each and every module, but these were the two modules that woke me up the most. I’m done living life in a daydream and I’m ready to fight for what it is that I want.

Roots of success was essential to my growth. It was the first building-block to the foundation of my future. The only negative thing that I can say about Roots of Success, is that it’s already over. I hope that eventually there will be an additional course offered to us here at Stafford Creek. If possible, I would like to be the first person to sign up and I can guarantee you that many others would be soon to follow.

Roots of Success is a Success!

Before I leave here today I would like to mention three things that I can now say about living green.




Thank you for your time.

Recent Roots of Success graduates proudly display their certificates

Recent Roots of Success graduates proudly display their graduation certificates. Photo by Joslyn Trivett.

For more information on the Roots of Success, please contact the program coordinator Emily Passarelli at passaree@evergreen.edu.


Cedar Creek Gardens

By Mr. Anglemyer, inmate technician for the SPP Frog and Turtle Program

The dog days of summer have almost gone which means that it is harvest time for some of the vegetables that are growing here at Cedar Creek Corrections Center.

The gardens are tended by inmates and all the food grown goes to the institution’s kitchen for inmates to eat. Broccoli, cabbage, carrots, corn, peppers, lettuce, beans, squash and pumpkins are all being prepared in the kitchen. There’ll even be a small amount of tomatoes and strawberries.

Cedar Creek Gardens Ready to Harvest. Photo by Joslyn Trivett

Cedar Creek Gardens Ready to Harvest. Photo by Joslyn Trivett.

Last year inmates grew close to twenty thousand pounds of produce. All this food will never see the inside of a can. It has all been grown organically — no pesticides or chemical fertilizers have been used in the growing process. Most of the compost used to amend the soil was made at the prison using leftover kitchen scraps (except for a layer of mushroom compost that was obtained locally).

Adding Cedar Creek Compost to the Soil. Photo by SPP Staff.

Adding Cedar Creek Compost to the Soil. Photo by SPP Staff.

The food will be a welcome change from the normal fare of processed, frozen, canned or bagged produce that is the norm in prisons. It is unfortunate that fresh produce only lasts for a few months, but three months is better than zero months; especially when some inmates among the population haven’t had access to fresh food for years — or even decades. The difference between organically grown garden fresh produce and the frozen, dyed, and chemically grown/preserved stuff is night and day.

Rhubarb Growing Along the Fence. Photo by Sadie Gilliom.

Rhubarb Growing Along the Fence. Photo by Sadie Gilliom.

There are some extra challenges this year due to the drought. We’re worried about water usage here just like everybody else on the west coast, but hopefully the lack of water won’t have a huge effect on crop yields. The inmates are doing a great job of using water efficiently and of recapturing where they can.

Many of us in the population are extremely grateful to the guys from the horticulture program whom work in the gardens, as well as the people at Centralia College and the Sustainability in Prisons Project who do their part in making the gardens possible. Fresh food makes the late summer and fall seasons here at Cedar Creek a special time.

Buzzing With Success: Bees Help Inmates Learn Marketable Skills, Build Self-Esteem

By Andrew Garber, DOC Communications
Photos by Kelli Bush, SPP Program Manager

LITTLEROCK – Jack Boysen grew up afraid of bees, yet here he is sticking his hand in the middle of a buzzing hive.


Beekeeping technician Mr. Mr. Anglemyer describes beekeeping to the King 5 cameraman.

The puffy, white, head-to-toe beekeeper suit he’s wearing helps, as does a hand-held smoker that puts the bees in a subdued state. “When you don’t use smoke, you don’t have a good day,” Boysen advises.

Still, Boysen says he never would have contemplated walking into a swarm of bees a few years ago.

Being in prison changed his mind.“I’ve had a lot of jobs in DOC. Janitor, cook, plumber, electrician and out of all the jobs I’ve had over the years, this is the most rewarding because you feel like you are doing something not only for your own benefit, but also the rest of the world,” he said.

“You have the opportunity to actually advance yourself when you get out of here,” said Boysen, 29, who is projected for release in 2017. “You have the potential to turn this into a career when you get out.”


Technicians Angelmeyer and Boysen attend to the hives, checking on the bees’ health of the bees while they describe what they have learned about beekeeping.

The Cedar Creek Corrections Center runs a beekeeper training program in conjunction with the Sustainability in Prisons Project, (SPP), a partnership between the Department of Corrections and The Evergreen State College, and the Olympia Beekeepers Association.

Boysen learned about the program from his classification counselor, Gina Sibley, and signed up with another inmate at the prison to take a six-week course last year that teaches the basics of beekeeping. Since then, he’s been helping tend bee hives at the prison.

The work involves donning his white suit once a week, with its tight-fitting gloves and netted hood that zips shut to keep out the bees. Then Boysen and another offender light up a metal smoker that burns wood chips or pine needles, and they head for the hives.

They puff smoke and gingerly pull out wooden racks that contain the bees and their honey. The inmates are checking on the health of the bees, which are prone to various pests and diseases. They also want to see if a new hive is forming.

“Through monitoring, we discovered a hive was starting to split and they actually created a queen cell and were creating a new queen,” Boysen said recently, while holding a rack crawling with bees to look for a queen. “So we took that out of the box and made a new hive out of it because when they do that, it means they’re getting ready to swarm.”

During the summer, the inmates and a correctional officer, Glenn Epling, who assists them, take honey-laden racks to a small centrifuge in a shed behind the prison that spins just fast enough to force out the honey without damaging the cones. The racks are then put back into the hives for the bees to refill.


Officer Epling shows the reporters the liquid gold produced by Cedar Creek’s beekeeping program.


Officer Epling shares his expertise and excitement about working with the hives.

One worker bee, which lives around six weeks, produces about 1⁄12th of a teaspoon of honey during its lifetime, said Laurie Pyne, with the Olympia Beekeepers Association. So if you ever buy an 8-ounce bottle of honey in a store, it likely took the lives of more than 500 bees to fill the jar.


Olympia Beekeeping Association president Laurie Pyne consults with beekeepers at Stafford Creek Corrections Center following a lecture.

Boysen thinks about the living he could make from raising bees.

“It’s kind of hard for us to get jobs out there, if you have an extensive record,” said Boysen, who is serving time for multiple convictions including theft and possession of a controlled substance. “With this, for a couple hundred dollars you can get a hive together.

“Then you get two hives and three. You can get almost five gallons of honey off one hive in a year. If you market it in small honey bears, it actually gives you a pretty decent income,” he said, while pulling out a rack to take to the centrifuge.

“We’re basically robbing the bees,” he said. “But this is definitely legal.”

Epling, who tends several hives at his own home in addition to working with offenders at the prison, said that two inmates who were released last year are now raising bees on the outside. “And it sounds like we have a future here with these inmates,” he said of the offenders he’s teaching now. “It’s a good thing. It works for everybody.”

Joslyn Rose Trivett, who works for Sustainability in Prisons Project at The Evergreen State College, said one of the SPP’s goals is to teach offenders marketable skills they can use on the outside, as well as help build up their self-esteem while in prison.

“A lot of the people who are incarcerated are struggling with the feeling of being thrown away and discarded by society,” she said.


SPP Network Manager Joslyn Rose Trivett interviews with the King5 reporters.

The beekeeper program and others like it can show offenders “there is value in every material and every resource and every animal and plant and certainly in every person,” she said.

Read more: KING5 story.

Making the most of a waste water lagoon

By Anna Crickmer, PE, Project Manager, Capital Programs, Department of Corrections

Photos by Clallam Bay Corrections Center staff

The head operator of the waste water treatment facility at Clallam Bay Corrections Center.

The head operator of the waste water treatment facility at Clallam Bay Corrections Center smiles in front of the waste water “polishing” pond.

Sewage treatment at Clallam Bay Corrections Center (CBCC) is the epitome of sustainable operations. They have an aerated lagoon (very low tech) with a polishing pond of duckweed (also very low tech), but staff are so dedicated to the operation that they get contamination reduction results exceeding some very high tech operations.

The main way to measure sewage treatment performance is the reduction of Biochemical Oxygen Demand (BOD) and Total Suspended Solids (TSS). Aerated lagoons generally reduce BOD by 75-80% and TSS by 70-80%. High tech, activated Sludge plants, the gold standard of sewage treatment, usually get 85-97% reduction in BOD and 87-93% in TSS.

The plant at CBCC gets 96% reduction of BOD, and 99% reduction of TSS—even better than the gold standard! 

One reason that they get these remarkable results is that they aerate the heck out of the lagoon. The original aerators are still in operation, thanks to meticulous maintenance, and more aerators have been added. In the summer months, water stays in the lagoon for 25 1/2 days before moving to a second pond, the “polishing” pond.

The prison's waste water starts its treatment in a lagoon full of aerators.

The prison’s waste water starts its treatment in a lagoon full of aerators.

The polishing pond is covered in duckweed. The duckweed takes up nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus (pollutants if discharged), and shades the water so that no algae can grow. The duckweed is grown in “corrals” so that it doesn’t blow to one side of the pond. The sides of the corrals tip over so that the operators can travel across them in a small pontoon boat when they maintain the pond. Water stays in the polishing pond 24 1/2 days, and then is ready for discharge into the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

The second treatment pond, the "polishing" pond, is covered in duckweed; the grid of corrals is to keep the duckweed coverage complete (without those barriers, the floating plants would migrate with the wind).

The second treatment pond, the “polishing” pond, is covered in duckweed; the grid of corrals is to keep the duckweed coverage complete (without those barriers, the floating plants would migrate with the wind).

The staff operators of the plant are exceptionally competent, and likable characters besides. Both used to be loggers, and say that their environmental conscience has been raised considerably because of their work at DOC. One of them told me, “Why, I even want to save whales now!”


The Effects of Believing

by Cyril Walrond, Roots of Success Instructor and Master Trainer

“…All things are possible to him that believes.” Mark 9:23


Cyril Walrond, Roots of Success instructor speaking at the class graduation ceremony in 2014. Photo by Joslyn Rose Trivett.

Teaching the Roots of Success environmental literacy curriculum here at Stafford Creek has been not only a blessing to my life but has also been an enriching privilege and honor. To teach this 10-module course in a classroom without any correctional staff, administration, or outside volunteers to sponsor it is unprecedented in the Department of Corrections. Daily it is just me and my two co-workers Grady Mitchell and David Duhaime in our classroom teaching a class of 20-30 eager incarcerated students.

They told us it could not be done, but we are doing it. They doubted that there would be any interest, but we have become one of the most sought after programs among the men at the facility. They thought that the material might be too difficult or challenging, we said let’s challenge them. Now, nearly 2 1/2 years later, we have graduated 8 classes and over 200 students. How was this done?… Through believing!

It is only through believing that we can make a difference that we can then impact our students. It is only through instilling this belief in our students, that they have something to contribute to this world, that they began to care about how they have impacted their environment and how they will impact it into the future. Looking beyond their present pain and into the future possibilities.

SCCC Roots graduates whole room

A look at over 50 students graduating from the Roots of Success program at Stafford Creek. Photo by Tiffany Webb.

My co-workers and I met frequently before our first class and agreed that if we did not believe in ourselves, this curriculum, and then each other, our students would never believe in us, this curriculum, or themselves. Now we are seeing the effects of our believing on the lives of not inmates, not convicts, not offenders, but on once-broken men who are now on a conquest to make a difference as they repair their lives.

Many of our students came into class with a warped self-image. Programmed to think that prison was inevitably predestined for their lives and that this is what they were being groomed for from the time they were conceived. We assure them these lies have conditioned them to the point of complacency, stagnation, and then finally acceptance. This place of acceptance is the realm in which many of them dwell, after having accepted their plight. However, they are made for more!

This is why one of my students, who we call Radio, really touched my heart when he personally thanked me at the conclusion of this class’s graduation. “Sir, thank you. You pushed me when I did not want to move. You challenged me when I felt like giving up. You believed in me when I did not believe in myself. Even when I thought my future was hopeless, you quoted to me several times Jeremiah 29:11.”

Radio is just one of many success stories that the 3 of us laugh and joke about when times get hard and our patience may be running thin with our students. (Trust me, anyone who has ever taught knows what I mean.) But we never get discouraged by the uphill battle. We press on and continue to believe that what we are accomplishing is much bigger than any one of us. Radio is a perfect example of how our believing in our students against all odds is giving hope to the hopeless.

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A Roots of Success class in action at Stafford Creek Corrections Center. Photo by Joslyn Rose Trivett.

Sooner or later most of these men will be released. These men enter into our classroom one way and by the time that they leave their minds have been expanded beyond recognition. David, Grady, and I believe that what we are doing will transcend these walls, and society will begin to believe in the great potential held within.

“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.'” Jeremiah 29:11

These are the effects of believing! So let me ask, what are you believing for?


More Food for the Very Hunger Caterpillars at MCCCW


SPP student-staff and butterfly technicians at MCCCW install four new raise beds to grow Plantago, food for the butterfly larvae.

SPP student-staff and butterfly technicians at MCCCW install four new raise beds to grow plantain, a common weed preferred by the endangered butterfly as food in their larval life-stage. Photo by Seth Dorman.

A refreshing, overcast morning at Mission Creek Corrections Center for Women (MCCCW) made for great weather to build four new raised beds for the Taylor’s Checkerspot Butterfly Program. We will grow plantain (Plantago) in these beds to increase the amount of food for the caterpillars (larvae) at the facility. SPP’s nursery crew—including Carl Elliott, Allie Denzler, and Ricky Johnson— joined the butterfly team on the project.

Lindsey Hamilton, Taylor's Checkerspot Program Coordinator, and butterfly technician Eva Ortiz unload a wheelbarrow full of soil.

Lindsey Hamilton, Taylor’s Checkerspot Program Coordinator, and butterfly technician Eva Ortiz unload a wheelbarrow full of soil. Photo by Seth Dorman.


Butterfly technician Michelle Dittamore and SPP nursery coordinator Allie Denzler install support brackets. in a corner. Photo by Seth Dorman.

Butterfly technician Michelle Dittamore and SPP nursery coordinator Allie Denzler install support brackets. in a corner. Photo by Seth Dorman.

The Taylor’s Checkerspot larvae require Plantago leaves for foraging, and then as adult they can use the plants as a place to lay their eggs. In recent years, the larvae have prospered; the hard-working technicians dutifully supply each larva with an appropriate serving of food. The larvae will eat as much as they can in the fall to grow and store up enough energy to survive the cold, winter months of dormancy (diapause). When the hungry larvae wake-up in mid-February, they require an ample food each day to  become a pupa (pupate). Some Februarys, the Plantago plants have not yet had favorable weather conditions for sprouting new, plentiful leaves. Consequently, the food the larvae desperately need to complete their life cycle is scarce. Some years, technicians are forced to pick from scattered Plantago around the perimeter of the facility.

By adding the new raised beds, we hope to have a more dependable supply for larvae to metamorphose into beautifully checkered adults. With the bed additions, we hope to grow at least 3,500 plantain plants. This means each of the 3,500 larvae reared in a season will have their own individual plantain plant! We plan to add cold frames for each raised bed, which will boost plantain production in late winter. Bountiful food resources for the butterfly larvae are beneficial in the warmer months of the season if some food recourses become contaminated or reduced due to pests and disease.


SPP’s nursery crew and butterfly team shovel soil to be placed in new raise beds. Photo by Seth Dorman.


After some heavy lifting of soil with shovels, the maintenance crew at MCCCW shows SPP their bulldozing skills. Photo by Seth Dorman.