We empower sustainable change by bringing nature, science, and environmental education into prisons.


collaborate * learn * cultivate * grow * thrive

What that looks like

The first gardening course class works in their course books. The peer-led program was created for (and by) people in prison and is meant to complement other gardening education programs and make academic study and certification more broadly available. Photo by Kelly Peterson.

The Sustainability in Prisons Project (SPP) is a partnership founded by The Evergreen State College and Washington State Department of Corrections. With vital input from many additional partners, we develop and deliver a wide range of science, sustainability and environmental education programs in all 11 Washington state prisons.

Highlights include:

  • Now available for download! Our 2023 annual report.
  • In 2023: SPP celebrated 20 years of bringing science and sustainability into prisons.
  • The first class of a new peer-led composting course launched at the Washington Corrections Center in the summer of 2023. The course was also offered at a youth facility in Nevada.
  • In 2023, SPP and The Evergreen State College awarded 418 undergraduate academic credits to 81 incarcerated students. Almost all Evergreen led SPP programs are now credit bearing.
  • Nearly all 9 honeybee programs continued in Washington state prisons and have restarted formal beekeeping education after being impacted by COVID-19.
  • A new Sagebrush Education and Training Program began at the Washington State Penitentiary. With funding support from Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), participants grew and delivered nearly 60,000 sagebrush plants, participated in a new credit-bearing education and training course, and advanced planning for a new sagebrush seed orchard and nursery.
  • SPP’s Taylor’s checkerspot butterfly program produced a record number 11,748 federally endangered larvae. Since 2011, program partners have reared more than 57,000 caterpillars and adult butterflies for release onto south Salish lowland prairies.
  • Stafford Creek Corrections Center began piloting a Garden to Kitchen project to improve incarcerated people’s access to fresh produce.
  • In 2023, partners grew more than 130,800 lbs. of fresh produce. Around 11,000 lbs. were used in facility kitchens.
  • In 2023, prisons diverted more than 728 tons of waste to composting and recycling.
  • By 2024, all 11 facilities plan to have Dog and Cat Programs restarted. In 2023, Coyote Ridge Corrections Center had 136 dogs graduate from the program.

Technician Brian Bedilion pulls a tray of wetland plants out of the aquaponic bath. Photo by Ricky Osborne.

“I never did well in school and my skills were more on the manual labor side. While I was incarcerated at Cedar Creek Correction Center in 2015 thru 2018 I was given the opportunity to discover that I was wrong.”

Darin Armstrong, former SPP conservation technician

“What does science mean to me? Science is the study of the world around us… I would not want to experience life without science.”

Morris Talaga, SPP conservation nursery teaching assistant

Read about what SPP is & isn’t.


In response to the dual crises of ecological degradation and mass incarceration, we aim to reduce recidivism while improving human well-being and ecosystem health. SPP brings together incarcerated individuals, scientists, corrections staff, students, and program partners to promote education, conserve biodiversity, practice sustainability, and help build healthy communities. Together, we reduce the environmental, economic, and human costs of prisons.

Sign up to receive SPP’s next annual report.