Tag Archives: WACorrections

Gardens at Stafford Creek Corrections Center

By Sarah Larson, SPP Sagebrush Coordinator

Incarcerated gardeners have been tending to their gardens since the season began this past spring. Despite delays in planting due to the unusually long and cool spring, the gardeners managed to plant a variety of vegetables throughout the facility. Harvests occur each Monday morning with the bounty being donated to the Coastal Harvest food bank in Hoquiam. As of mid-September, they’ve grown and donated an amazing 6,000 lbs. of produce! 

The gardeners don’t just grow vegetables, they also incorporate wildflowers and perennials. While this helps beautify the grounds, it also does an incredibly important job of supporting the Stafford Creek honey bees. The bees forage for pollen and nectar, while also pollinating many of the vegetables. 

Gardeners often experiment with new plant varieties, giving them the opportunity to learn more about the needs of different plants and how to solve issues with pests and diseases. Gardeners also collect and store seeds that are then sown the following year. 

With sustainability in mind, the gardeners get very creative in repurposing old containers to grow plants in. Many items are repurposed, like recycling bins, water barrels, laundry tubs, as well as reusing black plastic nursery pots.

A weekly garden harvest packaged in reusable crates and ready to be picked up by the food bank (bottom). Photo by Sarah Larson. 

WCC Seed Nursery

By Michelle Klim

This season, the sustainability crew at The Washington Corrections Center (WCC) in Shelton, WA planted native prairie plants for seed harvesting. These plants, which include Plectritis congesta, Collinsia parviflora, and Collinsia grandiflora, are being used in prairie restoration for the endangered Taylor’s checkerspot butterfly. 

 

Despite work delays, the crew was able to sow the field and harvest the seeds-which are currently curing inside before they’re packaged and distributed. This process involved deconstructing old garden beds that previously housed violets, reshaping the soil, planting ground cover, sowing the seeds twice, and weeding the rows weekly.   

Technicians weeded the rows weekly (top). SPP Conservation Manager Carl Elliot and a WCC crew member discuss seed ripeness and harvest dates (left). A technician shows Plectritis congesta seeds. Photos by Michelle Klim.

 

Technicians harvested Plectritis congesta by knocking the seeds off the plant and into a bin. Photo by Michelle Klim.

During the harvesting process, the crew noticed that there were seeds being left behind. They came up with an innovative solution- using a wireless shop-vac to collect them. They separated the seeds from the soil by shaking them through sieves but still had some small debris in the mix. After some trial and error, they came up with a solution- submerging the seeds in water and collecting the ones that float or bunch together.

Seeds that were dropped while harvesting were vacuumed up and sorted through. Shown is what is collected by the vacuum. Photo by Michelle Klim.

A WCC Technician collecting Collinisia seeds from a water bath. Photo by Michelle Klim.

A technician holds the seeds that have been separated out by water. The seeds will dry and cure before they are weighed and packaged. Photo by Michelle Klim.

The work was not easy, but the team was able to work together to come up with solutions and complete the harvest.  

The Cedar Creek Turtles Return!

Written by Marissa Scoville, SPP Ecological Coordinator

A Western Pond Turtle being handled by an incarcerated technician. Photo by SPP Staff.

After a long hiatus Cedar Creek Corrections Center (CCCC) and the Sustainability in Prisons Project (SPP) were happy to welcome back the Western Pond Turtle (WPT). The WPT program has been active since 2013, but due to Covid-19 SPP had to take a two-year break from the program. With the return of the program SPP has begun working with a team of incarcerated technicians to provide care to these turtles by helping them recover from illness so they can return to their native ponds and help the population grow.

WDFW biologist handling a Western Pond Turtle. Photo by SPP Staff.

The WPT are a Washington state listed endangered species. Biologists from Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) trap the turtles and examine them for signs of shell disease. Shell disease is caused by a keratin eating fungus that infects the WPTs and creates lesions on their shells, left untreated it can be fatal. Turtles that are show symptoms of shell disease are then brought to PAWS Wildlife and Rehabilitation Center (PAWS) for treatment. This year all the turtles that received treatment were from Peirce County. After treatment the turtles have a long road to recovery, and this is where the technicians at Cedar Creek come in to play.

Veterinarian from PAWS teaching technician, Jason Matson, how to examine shell disease lesions on a Western Pond Turtle. Photo by SPP Staff.

At Cedar Creek, the turtles are kept in a small building lovingly dubbed by both staff and technicians alike, “The Turtle Shack”, which was renovated this year to house the turtles. Due to the two-year break in the WPT program and the new Turtle Shack, there was a lot of work to set up before the turtles could arrive! But supplies were quickly gathered, and the tanks and lights were set up as well, and pretty soon The Turtle Shack was ready to house the WPTs. On March 9th, 2022, the eight WPTs were transferred down from the PAWS facility to Cedar Creek by WDFW biologist Emily Butler.

WDFW biologist showing technician, Jason Matson, how to check the WDFW number on a Western Pond Turtle. Photo by SPP Staff.

Turtle technician, Heath McQueen, examining a Western Pond Turtle when the turtles were first brought to Cedar Creek. Photo by SPP Staff.

Once the turtles arrive at Cedar Creek, the technicians work hard to care for this endangered species. The technicians prepared and fed the turtles a varied diet of smelt, mealworms, night crawlers, turtle pellets, mixed greens, and reptile gel. They also provided daily water changes and weekly tank cleanings to prevent possible infections in the turtles’ post-treatment wounds. With daily behavior observations the technicians quickly learned the personality each turtle had, some were shy and preferred to hide all day while others were bold and sassy, preferring to bask all day and would occasionally attempt to pick a fight with their tank mate. It is important to note aggressive turtles were separated in their tanks with Plexi glass to prevent potential injury (this would not stop them from endlessly hissing at each other though). Physical observations were also regularly made to ensure treated lesions were healing or if new lesions developed. These observations helped the technicians notice if a turtle acting differently and may need medical attention, thankfully no extra medical attention was required for this round of turtles. In what felt like minutes, the turtles were rehabilitated and ready for release.

Weekly photos of the carapace (top shell, image on left) and plastron (bottom shell, image on right) were taken weekly to track the healing process and reference in case of new suspected lesions. Photo by SPP Staff.

On May 5th, 2022, the turtles were transported to the Pierce County release site, where their native ponds are located. Here a small staff made up of SPP and WDFW members checked all the turtles prior to release. Unfortunately, the technicians were unable to join this year’s release. The pre-release checks consisted of weight and size measurements, Passive Integrated Transponders (PIT) scans and verifying each turtle’s WDFW number. After this the turtles were brought down to the ponds. At the Pierce County site each of the turtles were released back into the same pond which they were trapped in many months ago. Each of the staff took turns releasing the eight WPTs into their native ponds. The turtles swam away and rejoined their population just in time for the summer and the WPT mating season. SPP and the Cedar Creek crew are very happy to see the successful release of the WPTs but will be missing the turtles until the next batch of are trapped for treatment.

Western Pond Turtle released into Pond at Peirce County Peirce County site. Photo by Danielle Jimenez, Communications Consultant from Washington Department of Corrections.

From worms to flies, SPP is enriching the soil of 2022 with a new composting program!

Written by Derek Thedell, Composting Education Coordinator

At SPP, we believe collaboration is key to successful, resilient programs. One collaboration we are excited to share about is the Foundations in Composting education course, which has been in development since the summer of 2021. With the support of a generous donor, many partners, and Institute for Applied Ecology’s Sagebrush in Prisons Project the new course will be available in Washington prisons and offered at the Lovelock Correctional Center in Nevada!  

Greenhouse and thermophilic composting bins at WCC in Shelton, photo by Emily Passarelli.

This curriculum is modeled from the Foundations in Gardening course written in 2020 and focuses on the science and impacts of composting from small to commercial scales. The curriculum will also introduce careers in sustainability and include cultural and historical components throughout the curriculum. Additionally, once completed, we will present it to The Evergreen State College for review for college credit.

Module or chapter development is currently in progress and includes input and voices from experts in our communities including incarcerated individuals, corrections staff, formerly incarcerated individuals, Evergreen Master of Environmental Studies graduates, local composting experts, Tilth Alliance, Centralia College staff, and professors at the University of Washington. You might recognize a few faces and voices, including Nick Hacheney and Juan Hernandez who were composting leaders at the massively successful composting program at Monroe Correctional Center.

Alongside expert composters, Foundations in Composting will feature information from significant written resources, such as Teaming with Microbes by Jeff Lowenfels & Wayne Lewis.

Last November, SPP had the privilege of hosting a course planning meeting at the Washington Corrections Center (WCC) in Shelton. Collaboration is a fundamental part of the SPP program development process. Bringing in the voices and input of the incarcerated composting educators and technicians, Department of Corrections staff, and community experts helps assure that our program is inclusive and well-rounded.

Active worm bin compost managed by the sustainability crew at WCC, photo by Jennifer Bass.

Currently, the sustainability crew at WCC, led by Corrections Specialist 3 Jeff Sanders, has several active composting projects including thermophilic piles (pictured), bokashi, vermicomposting using worms (pictured) and black soldier flies. SPP hopes to provide an educational opportunity to supplement these active projects in the future using this curriculum.

The compost at WCC is utilized in their many gardens, and the black soldier fly larva are even used to feed the chickens! Photos by Jennifer Bass.

Development of the curriculum is slated to be finished by spring, with the pilot program in Nevada getting started quickly after that. Until then, we will continue to write, edit, and edit some more for this exciting new program. One thing is for sure, the future of composting education in prisons is bright!

 

 

Susan Christopher’s Lasting Impact

Text by Erica Benoit, SPP Special Projects Manager

In my final weeks working with the Sustainability in Prisons Project, I was lucky enough to interview Susan Christopher, another amazing former SPP Butterfly Technician who actually worked alongside Nichole Alexander during her time at the Mission Creek Corrections Center for Women (MCCCW). Susan and I spoke about her experience in the SPP program, the impact she has had on other women struggling with incarceration and/or addiction, and her considerable community involvement.

Susan Christopher (right) assists another crew member in the Taylor’s checkerspot butterfly program. Photo by Keegan Curry.

Susan’s time in the Taylor’s checkerspot butterfly program represents an exceptional case in which an incarcerated person remained employed in a program for more than 3 years. This opportunity to work with the species for four total breeding seasons meant she gained extensive experience and skills that have contributed to the program’s long-term success. In particular, she and other technicians at the time developed tracking mechanisms that impressed program partners like the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. Some of her other accomplishments in the program include giving a presentation to 40 biologists, taking a field trip to see the butterflies in the wild at the Glacial Heritage Preserve, and being interviewed by PBS News Hour about the program.

Susan explains the data tracking systems used in the butterfly program in front of the camera for the PBS News Hour Special. Photo by Kelli Bush.

Susan emphasized the positive impact that being in the SPP butterfly program had on her. She said, “It’s such an amazing program…what it does for our self-esteem, giving us a chance to prove ourselves again, to be trusted and appreciated. To me, it was the most important job in the institution.”

Susan Christopher shows off a Taylor’s checkerspot butterfly to SPP Staff, Emily Passarelli. Photo by SPP Staff.

It was clear from our interview that Susan also tends to have a big impact on the communities around her, whether that is in prison or her outside community. For instance, she served as a peer mentor in prison for women while they were experiencing crisis. She also volunteered in MCCCW’s clothing closet program, which provides professional clothes to women preparing to take their next steps into society. While incarcerated, she taught yoga to other incarcerated women as a therapeutic outlet. Since her release from prison, she has continued this practice with individuals who are in treatment for issues related to addiction. She also shares her story of overcoming her own addiction problems to women’s groups and church groups as a way to own her truth and give people hope.

In addition to these meaningful contributions, Susan has also dedicated her time to providing fun outlets for her community of Bremerton, Washington. While the pandemic has put a damper on many social activities, Susan wanted to find safe ways to connect with her community. With the support of city officials, she has organized numerous family friendly cruise nights and car shows around the area. You can learn more about those events by visiting the Cruisin Bremerton Facebook group.

A still of Susan Christopher welcoming visitors to a car show on September 4, 2020. Video by Canalside Photography and Stan Young.

All in all, Susan told me that over time, she realized her purpose and reason for being in prison was to make a difference in others’ lives. In total, Susan had 57 different roommates while incarcerated. For these women and hundreds of others, she has served as part of their support network both during and after incarceration. Many of them still reach out to her today to tell her how her journey has been an inspiration to them.

Susan Christopher behind the camera photographing cars at a car show. Photography has always been a passion of hers and with some encouragement from others, she has started to sell some of her work. Photo by Everett Allison.

Speaking of her journey since incarceration, Susan feels her successes are on the quiet side, but that is how she likes it. She appreciates getting messages and hugs from those who she has impacted. She said she now feels like, “I am worthy, and I do have a place in this world…It may not be standing up and winning awards, but I have a certain satisfaction now that I’ve never had before. People are watching me, looking up to me, and they appreciate me.” We at SPP see you and so appreciate you, Susan.

 

Learning so much from MES & SPP

By Carly Boyd, SPP Butterfly Program Coordinator

I first heard about the Evergreen State College as a junior in high school. Unfortunately, I quickly decided it wasn’t possible to attend; no one (not even me!) was ready for me to move across the country from Maryland to Washington State.

Carly and her fiancé hiked in Rocky Mountain National Park in CO while visiting her best friend in Denver.

Instead, I attended a state school in western Maryland. I graduated in 2018 with a biology degree and plans to get my Master’s. When I realized Evergreen has a Master of Environmental Studies (MES) program, it felt like a second chance for me

I was working and living with my fiancé and pet cat Kiwi in Virginia. To take that second chance, I moved to a state where I knew no one. Not once have I been afraid or worried that I had made the wrong choice.

During my first year at Evergreen, what I have learned about people and how the world works has been invaluable and so different from the education I received in Maryland. I expect my time with SPP as the Butterfly Program Coordinator will be just as surprising and important.

Left: Carly holds a wild saw-whet owl; she participated in a long-term research project called Project Owlnet. Right: During her time working for Virginia State Parks, Carly holds a blind, one-winged barred owl who helped with environmental education programs.

Before SPP, I have worked with people from all walks of life and I’ve learned so much from those experiences. The most valuable skill I’ve gained is versatility: being prepared and able to change my approach to better suit whoever I’m working with. Already, this skill is serving me well in the SPP butterfly program. Efforts to keep everyone in the program safe amidst the COVID-19 crisis requires a lot of adaptation.

It is often difficult to start a new job and this one brings the challenge of a completely new environment for me. On top of that, as a part of an utterly changed world, I need to scrutinize my every action for safety, especially when working with an at-risk population. I recognize that I have to hold some responsibility for the technicians’ safety and health. At the same time, I hold some responsibility for keeping the program going as long as we are able; the technicians deserve to continue the work they value.

Most of Carly’s photos are of her loved ones, pets, and nature. Here is rare picture with her in it! enjoying her exploration of Juneau, Alaska while there visiting family.

As a program and as an organization, we remain open to change. We continue to discuss the best and safest way to move forward for everyone involved.

Working with incarcerated individuals is changing me as a person. It’s very different from the work I’ve done in the past and honestly very different from what I ever saw myself doing. It is an unexpected opportunity that forces me to rethink what I am able to do professionally. My perceptions of the prison system and the incarcerated individuals inside are shifting. The position is helping me to rethink what I’m capable of and what I want to dedicate my life to.

In the bigger picture, working with SPP reinforces what I know and who I am. I believe humans are resilient and that, deep down, we all have a passion to learn and to contribute to a deeper collective. Also, I think we have an innate desire to be close to nature, in whatever way we can. Even in such a time of uncertainty and fear, I want to help our incarcerated partners connect with nature… so long as they, and we, are comfortable making it possible.

Stafford Creek bee program teaches itself

Text and photos by Joslyn Rose Trivett, SPP Education & Outreach Manager

In early July 2020, Apprentice beekeeping student DeShan and Journeyman beekeeper Charles Roark check the health of a hive in the Stafford Creek Corrections Center program.

When the pandemic made it impossible for expert beekeepers from the outside community to visit, the program at Stafford Creek Corrections Center found a way to teach itself.

For a few years, the beekeeping program has been well-supported by a visiting expert who could deliver Washington State Beekeepers Association’s courses and certifications. From late in 2017 to summer 2019, beekeeper Duane McBride awarded Beginner certificates to 4 staff members and 76 incarcerated individuals and Apprentice certificates to 8 staff and 58 incarcerated beekeepers!

Stafford Creek’s bee club moved the hives to a warmer, drier site that easily can be seen by all visitors to the main prison campus.

During the past winter, building on that impressive foundation, the Stafford Creek program formed its own bee club and made plans to relocate their hives to a warmer, drier site.

At the same time, they gained a resident Journeyman beekeeper, Charles Roark; he had just transferred from Airway Heights Corrections Center (home of another amazing bee program). Apprentice beekeeper Rory had served as an assistant instructor in Duane’s last class. Supported by Bee Program Liaison Kelly Peterson, Charles and Rory joined forces to continue the education and certification program.

Apprentice students David Duhaime and David Lewis study and admire a worker bee perched on Lewis’ glove.

Together, they mentored Apprentice students in small groups, repeating each class three times so that every student could learn the same content and practice hands-on, all while keeping socially distanced. It was wonderful to hear that all partners — instructors, students, and the bees — thrived in the program. At the end of one session, a student said that it was his best day ever at the prison.

That magic was still alive when I visited the program in early July. Rory introduced the program by saying, “May I brag about our beekeeping program?” I was so glad he did! He was hardly the only one; there was a lot to be proud of. Ms. Peterson told us, “I don’t have to stress about this program…you guys are so good at it.”

I found many honeybees in the nearby garden beds — see that worker bee in the center of a big daisy?

They started the flight season with only two hives and had quickly grown the population to fill seven! The beekeepers told me about the character and quality of each queen and her hive and shared all kinds of observations. I was so pleased to see them in their element, showing the teamwork, creativity, and gentle respect that are the best parts of SPP’s bee programs.

On a frame of healthy bees,, you can see many different colors of flower pollen stored in the cells; these food stores are called “bee bread.”

To learn more about bee programs that endure during the pandemic, I recommend these articles:
Like honeybees, we are working together

Welcoming the bees back to WCC

The The Buzz About Honey Bees

When crisis inspires greater teamwork

Text by Marisa Pushee, Joslyn Rose Trivett, and Kelli Bush
Photos by Marisa Pushee

In these unprecedented times, we are adapting to meet the new needs of the community we serve. This has meant suspending the majority of in-person programs in favor of remote education.

Early in the pandemic, following the general pattern, the Taylor’s Checkerspot Butterfly Program partners suspended the program. But then, partners asked Could it be possible to restart? Everyone agreed that human health and safety had to be the top priority. Also, we heard from the Washington Department of Fish & WildlifeMission Creek Corrections Center staff, and incarcerated technicians that the program was very important to them. They asked that we problem-solve together, to collaborate on figuring out if there was any combination of rules and protocols that would allow for a re-start.

Technician Erin Hart works in one of the greenhouses, following best practices by wearing a face mask, social distancing, and implementing extensive cleaning protocols.

Following all COVID-19 safety protocols, we met several times and discussed a potential restart. Prison staff demonstrated that they were eager to prioritize the health and safety of the incarcerated technicians, willing to adapt program practices, and could support increased remote communication as SPP-Evergreen limited our prison visits. Technicians requested the program be restarted and expressed that, in the program space, they felt a reduced risk of contracting the disease. The lead wildlife biologist agreed that operations must be contingent on new protocols to reduce human health risks.

An adult Taylor’s checkerspot butterfly rests in an oviposition pot where she will lay her eggs.

Ultimately, all partners agreed that the program could re-start with new safety protocols in place. A key element of the re-start plan was to continuously reevaluate program safety, to ask each other regularly and often what could be done to make it safer and, most importantly, was it really safe enough.

The butterflies came back to Mission Creek. Social distancing, masking, and disinfection protocols were meticulously followed. Commitment to safety and open communications were fulfilled. The rearing season was successful for the butterflies and for the people involved.

Butterfly program coordinator Keegan Curry holds a rearing enclosure called an oviposition pot (a Plantago plant with a net over it) near the back door of a greenhouse.

Workshops in the COVID-19 Era

Text and photos by Erica Benoit, SPP Workshop Series Coordinator

Unfortunately, the Environmental Workshop Series may be facing the greatest impact of all SPP programs due to COVID-19. While we are proud of the programs’ large crowds, we know that the coronavirus thrives in such environments. In an effort to protect our incarcerated and staff partners, the workshop series has been temporarily paused at all facilities. It is our goal to resume the regular workshop schedule and reschedule canceled workshops once it is safe to do so again.

Just before the shut-down, Fawn Harris brought Princess Remington back to prison.

As a part of our efforts to adapt and evolve, we are also test-driving a remote workshop learning plan at Stafford Creek Corrections Center so workshop students can continue to earn credit towards their workshop certificates. Beginning this month (May 2020), in lieu of in-person workshops, students will be able to watch videos on a specific environmental topic through an in-facility TV channel. In addition to viewing the selected videos, students will be required to reflect on what they learned in writing. Submitting this assignment will earn the equivalent of 1 regular workshop credit. Depending on the success of the remote learning plan, it may be expanded to additional facilities.

Still, we miss the workshops and the in-person interaction and knowledge gained from them. So, please enjoy these images of the last few in-person workshops we had in late February and early May.

Raptors of the Pacific Northwest, Workshop on March 6 at Mission Creek Corrections Center for Women (MCCCW)

Fawn Harris and Michael William Etgen are from West Sound Wildlife Shelter. Fawn used to coordinate one of SPP’s conservation nurseries and she facilitates wonderful workshops! (A photo of her and Princess Remington is at the top of this story.)

An Introduction to Permaculture, Workshop on February 20 at Stafford Creek Corrections Center (SCCC)

Sheilia Canada led a workshop on a sustainable living system that supplies all the needs of humanity while it benefits all creatures on Earth.

Hard to imagine when a class this size will feel safe again.
Following an in-class brainstorm session, a student shares with the class how he applied the zonal model of permaculture to an everyday life scenario.

Climate Crisis Solutions: Healthy Soils & Food Forests, Workshop on February 26 at Washington Corrections Center (WCC)

Julianne Gale, Zephyr Elise, and James Landreth from Mason County Climate Justice led a session on healthy soils and food forests as a potential solution to the climate crisis.

Student Impact Statement

By Graham Klag, SPP Prairie Conservation Nursery Coordinator and MES Student

Graham recently presented on the SPP-supported project at an International Association for Landscape Ecology – North America conference; see his virtual poster here.

The team examines and discusses new root growth; two of the technicians, Ronald Snider and Toby Erhart, seen here with Graham. Photo by Shauna Bittle.

The Sustainability in Prisons Project (SPP) affords Master of Environmental Studies students an endemic and indelible academic and professional-development opportunity. My experience as the Prairie Conservation Nursery Coordinator for the programs at Stafford Creek and Washington Corrections Center for Women (SCCC and WCCW) gave me the chance to promote my academic and professional passion: promoting the restoration and enhancement of marginalized populations of Pacific Northwest prairie plant communities. While I contributed to the ecological functions of the Pacific Northwest’s most endangered ecosystems, I also learned how to better support the basic human functions of endangered and marginalized populations of people.

Working with incarcerated technicians continually revealed their resourceful creativity and their desire to meaningfully contribute to the society from which they have been disconnected. Masters students such as myself support technicians’ connections to ecological concepts, while we also connect our (my) consciousness to our nation’s culture of incarceration.

In the project, this was the first violet to bloom! Photo by Graham Klag.

My thesis research project uses coconut coir mats for the restoration and enhancement of the early-blue violet (Viola adunca) for the larval development of the Oregon silverspot butterfly. The project has been possible only due to the combination of resources and partnerships that SPP has afforded me. As part of my work coordinating SPP’s Prairie Conservation Nurseries, my position helped me access hoop house space, seed, materials, staff, input, and other resources that have led to the success of my research project. The experience allows me to see the value of project-based adaptive management, scientific research, and education to advance the skills and education of technicians and myself.

The team discusses trials of mat substrate types; Toby Erhart and Bien Van Nguyen are the most-visible technicians. Photo by Shauna Bittle.
SCCC’s place-made prairie; the technician holds the garden’s design template. Photo by Graham Klag.

During my time with SPP, I have learned that this connection to place is a basic human need. While dealing with incarcerated technicians’ unfortunate connection to the place of prison, we fostered their connection to other ecosystems — ones that need our help. The fortune of those rare ecosystems can be found from more and more connections to conservation science.

I see restoration ecology as a place-making process. Through my research design and implementation, technicians and I shared in the scientific method, connecting us to the coastal prairie environments of the Washington and Oregon coast. As part of that process, this year we constructed a prairie garden inside the facility at SCCC; we planted extra prairie plants that we had grown for various restoration sites within the Salish lowlands and created a bit of prairie inside the prison.

At the basis of all life’s functions is the need for connection. My position with SPP combined with my studies provides me a connective power. I wish to share that power with individuals disconnected from our modern society. SPP is a true asset to The Evergreen State College’s mission and core values, providing academic and professional empowerment opportunities to students, staff, and the greater community. I feel lucky to be a part of this special community experience and reflect on human ecology and empathy. I have new insight into how the landscape reflects how we treat each other and the good life of being a Greener.

Graham at the Rock Creek coastal prairie research site with ready-to-plant plugs of early blue violet (Viola adunca), Roemer’s fescue (Festuca roemeri), and coastal strawberry (Fragaria chiloensis). Photo by Rolando Beorchia from Institute for Applied Ecology.