Lectures Captivate Offenders at the Washington Corrections Center for Women (WCCW)

Posted by Graduate Research Associate Sarah Clarke

In September 2009 we kicked off a science and sustainability lecture series at the WCCW in Gig Harbor, WA. Included as part of a yearly Women’s Health Conference titled “The Mind, the Spirit, the Environment Maintained, Equals a Healthy Body Sustained,” our lectures there on Trees and Human Health as well as Toxics and the Environment started what has become a popular series for offenders at the WCCW.  Now, 10 months into this series, we recently noted the diversity of presentations we’ve been able to offer at WCCW.

Sarah Clarke, Research Associate, speaks to offenders at WCCW at the conference held in September 2009

Sarah Clarke, Research Associate, speaks to offenders at WCCW at the conference held in September 2009

Each facility in the Washington Department of Corrections is a little different, and we adjust lecture series accordingly.   From the start, staff and offenders at WCCW tasked us to find lectures that integrate the personal health aspects with the environmental aspects of sustainability. This unusual and challenging task has turned out to be very fruitful as it has led to a diverse mix of guest lecturers and topics.

Lectures have included such topics as Poetry and Sustainability, Yoga and Sustainability, Ethnobotany, and more traditional science and sustainability lectures like Nearshore Restoration in Puget Sound, Salmon in the Pacific Northwest, Beyond Waste in Washington State: Reducing Toxic/Solid Waste and Reusing Organic Waste, and Wolves: Endangered Species Ecology, Conservation, and Wildlife-Related Jobs. Future topics include Biology and Ecology of Brown Bears and Purple Martin and Western Bluebird Conservation.  

Frequently during lectures we (SPP staff, inmates, and officers) reflect on the maxim “we will not fight to save what we do not love.”  As organizers, we feel we have helped offenders not only understand the science of restoration, salmon, and wolves, but also to further their love of the plants and animals native to the Northwest.  Offenders consistently show a deep level of curiosity as they ask insightful and unique questions, exhausting available Q&A time.

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