Ecological Conservation

Environmental problems such as climate change and habitat degradation require innovative, responsive science. To connect society with ecological systems, scientists must work across the traditional boundaries of academia and research, and in turn learn from new audiences. In effect, both scientist and newcomer must become ambassadors to each other’s culture – learning the language, exchanging ideas and working toward common goals.

At the Sustainability in Prisons Project, we connect people inside and outside prison walls to create a collaborative, intellectually stimulating environment in which incarcerated men and women play key roles in conservation and advancing scientific knowledge. We encourage teamwork, mutual respect and a stewardship ethic among individuals who typically have little or no access to nature or opportunities in science and sustainability. At the same time, we give scientists a powerful opportunity to expand their work through the fresh perspectives and creative energy of the prison community.

With additional funding and support from visiting scientists, we hope to establish science projects throughout Washington’s prison system and with other “research ambassadors” such as the elderly in assisted living centers. At present, we have multiple programs, each involving inmates, college students and community partners. Click on a program name to learn more about it.

Rearing Taylor’s Checkerspot Butterflies

The Federally-listed endangered species the Taylor's checkerspot butterfly in the custom built green house at Mission Creek Corrections Center. Photo by Benj Drummond and Sara Joy Steele.

The Federally-listed endangered species the Taylor’s checkerspot butterfly in the custom built green house at Mission Creek Corrections Center. Photo by Benj Drummond and Sara Joy Steele.

Prairie Conservation Nurseries

Restoration technicians sow seeds in the prairie conservation nursery at Shotwell's Landing. Photo by Ricky Osborne.

Restoration technicians sow seeds in the prairie conservation nursery at Shotwell’s Landing. Photo by Ricky Osborne.

Sagebrush Steppe Conservation Nurseries

The contribution of conservation technicians to SPP's sagebrush nursery is greatly valued by program partners. In an effort to ensure program benefits to the incarcerated participants, the program provides training and education in restoration ecology, horticulture, and related natural sciences. Photo by Jeff Clark, BLM.

SPP’s conservation technicians are valued partners in CRCC’s sagebrush nursery. The program provides the incarcerated technicians with training and education in restoration ecology, horticulture, and related natural sciences. Photo by Jeff Clark, BLM.

Western Pond Turtle Rehabilitation

Sadie-release-turtle

SPP Western Pond Turtle Program Coordinator Sadie Gilliom releases a turtle to a wetland; the turtle received care at Cedar Creek Corrections Center while it recovered from a shell disease. Photo by SPP staff.

Beekeeping

A class of beekeepers at Washington State Penitentiary, a professional beekeeper, and DOC staff consult on the prison’s hives on a very hot day; ten incarcerated students were certified as Apprentice Beekeepers in the summer of 2016. Photo by Ricky Osborne.

Emergent pre-Vegetated Mats

Native wetland vegetation gets a head start in mats growing in Stafford Creek Corrections Center’s aquaponics greenhouse. Photo by Daniel Cherniske.

Rearing Oregon Spotted Frogs

An Oregon spotted frog reared at Cedar Creek Corrections Center leaps into its new habitat. Photo by Cyril Ruoso.

An Oregon spotted frog reared at Cedar Creek Corrections Center makes a leap into its new habitat. Photo by Cyril Ruoso.