SPP’s conservation programs encompass a huge range of activities and topics but share three things in common.

  1. The focus of the work is conservation: preserving and protecting something valuable, such as a species, landscape, and/or other natural resources.
  2. The work depends on strong partnerships with expert partners; adding to the WA Corrections and Evergreen partnership, individuals from many organizations share their knowledge, resources, and enthusiasms.
  3. Incarcerated program partners are both students and technicians; they receive formal education and training plus hands-on experience. Essentially, these are college-level internships, and successful technicians are awarded SPP certificates.

Rearing Taylor’s Checkerspot Butterflies

An adult Taylor’s checkerspot butterfly drinks honeywater from a cotton swab. Photo by Keegan Curry.

Prairie Conservation Nurseries

SPP’s prairie conservation nursery crew prepares containers for sewing at Washington Corrections Center for Women. Photo by Ricky Osborne.

Composting with Bugs

Monroe Correctional Complex hosts a world-class composting program within Washington State Reformatory. Incarcerated technicians started the program in 2010 with a literal handful of worms; since then, with great support from prison staff and leadership, they have grown the program to process 20,000 lbs. of food waste each month, with three kinds of “bugs” including 8.5 million worms. Photo by Erica Benoit.

Western Pond Turtle Rehabilitation

In the turtle lab at Cedar Creek Corrections Center, a western pond turtle named Yellow smiles for the camera. Photo by Maris Pushee.


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.

Wetland Nursery: Emergent pre-Vegetated Mats

Program partners tour one of the greenhouses growing wetland plants for Oregon spotted frog habitat restoration. Photo by Ricky Osborne.

Rearing Oregon Spotted Frogs (2009-2015)

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.

Sagebrush Steppe Conservation Nurseries

The Sagebrush in Prisons Project spans several western states in the Great Basin. These programs exemplify the SPP model and are excellent examples of conservation in prisons beyond Washington State. Photo courtesy of the Institute for Applied Ecology.