Mountain School Naturalist Educator - Fall 2017

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Diablo Lake, WA
United States

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North Cascades Institute is looking for enthusiastic educators with diverse backgrounds and experiences to join our team of staff at the North Cascades Environmental Learning Center in the heart of North Cascades National Park. Naturalist Educators who work with the North Cascades Institute teach in our Mountain School program from late August to mid November. The organization is specifically looking for individuals who are well qualified, who have experience working with a diversity of audiences, who are interested in collaborative, team environments, and who are driven to improve themselves and the organization they work for. They will instruct lessons in natural and cultural history, science, and other subjects for school aged audiences.

The North Cascades Environmental Learning Center is located in the heart of the North Cascades National Park near Diablo, WA, and serves as a hub for a small network of trails along the shores of Diablo Lake. This region of North America has been visited by native tribes for over 9,000 years and continues to be a meaningful location for thousands of visitors each year. Opened in 2005, the Learning Center is a collaboration between North Cascades Institute, the National Park Service, and Seattle City Light, the public utility that owns and operates the hydroelectric project that includes Diablo Lake, and provides electricity to the residents of Seattle. The Learning Center is approximately 20 miles from the nearest gas station and post office, and 60 miles from towns with full amenities. 

Teaching responsibilities

Throughout their season, Naturalist Educators teach across a broad range of program areas. This position will primarily focus on working with our school program which mainly serves 4th-6th grade students. For more information about North Cascades Institute and our programs, please visit our website at:

Specific Program Areas

School Programs (Fall)

Mountain School is the Institute’s primary school based education program. It is a nationally recognized residential environmental education program for elementary through high school aged students. Students spend three days and two nights at the Learning Center hiking under towering trees, exploring terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, and learning about the rich natural and cultural history of one of the most biodiverse regions in the world.

Adult, Family and Conferences and Retreats (Early Fall)

Throughout the year, North Cascades Institute provides incredible experiential programs to adults, families and other groups at the Learning Center. Participants experience Northwest ecosystems through art, photography, literature, natural and cultural history appreciation, canoeing, recreational activities, and other programs. Naturalists are key members of our instructional community and are involved in many aspects of these programs, especially teaching.

Preferred Qualifications

  • Enthusiasm for learning and teaching about the natural world
  • Culturally competent and able to connect with students from a variety of backgrounds
  • Creative, energetic, professional, motivated, cooperative team player, sense of humor
  • Good judgment, flexibility and ability to work independently and reliably
  • Ability to speak multiple languages a plus ++
  • Experience teaching elementary, middle and high school youth and working with teachers and chaperones (Residential environmental education experience a plus ++)
  • Familiarity with inquiry-based teaching and learning
  • Experience designing and developing curriculum
  • Ability to adjust teaching methods and styles to accommodate different audiences and learning styles
  • Knowledge of basic scientific principles and how to teach them
  • Strong ability to teach canoeing and water safety skills
  • Strong work ethic and a desire to grow and improve both yourself and the organization
  • Ability to work flexible hours including evenings and weekends
  • Ability to work and live comfortably in a small community
  • Knowledge of the North Cascades natural and cultural history a plus ++
  • Experience leading wilderness programs and associated risk management protocols
  • Experience leading groups in service and manual labor projects

Required Qualifications

  • Bachelor's degree with two years relevant experience and/or training
  • Current Wilderness First Responder certification upon date of hire
  • Ability to lift and carry 60 pounds, perform physically demanding work, backpack and hike over uneven terrain
  • Valid driver’s license and driving record must have no more than one moving violation in the past three years, no DUI, reckless driving, or serious moving violations, etc.
  • Final offer of employment are contingent upon the successful completion of a background check that may include employment history, national criminal background check, national sex offender registry search and a driving history check.


  • Create a safe, positive learning environment for youth and adults with positive reinforcement, role-modeling and cultural sensitivity
  • Instruct lessons in natural and cultural history, science, the arts and other subjects
  • Lead hikes, canoeing and other naturalist activities
  • Create, maintain, inventory and facilitate the use of program educational materials
  • Research program logistics, site regulations, trails, campsites and habitats as necessary
  • Provide leadership in risk management before, during and after programs
  • Represent the Institute during programs by sharing publicity information and promoting membership and involvement
  • Support marketing and registration activities that promote enrollment
  • Design and implement programs with clear learning objectives
  • Other duties as assigned

Possible Start/ End Dates

August 28, 2017 – November 15, 2017 (extension possible)


This is a temporary/seasonal, full time, non-exempt position, eligible for overtime pay. The wage is $12.00 per hour DOE and benefits include sick leave and holiday pay.


Shared housing is available for the duration of the position, either at the Learning Center or in the neighboring towns of Diablo, Newhalem, or Marblemount. Meals are provided when programs are in session; otherwise, instructors are responsible for providing their own food. Employees are responsible for their own health insurance and transportation (which is strongly encouraged).

Application Deadline

July 20, 2017 (priority; open until filled)

Equal Opportunity Employer

Recruiting and retaining a diverse workforce is a high priority at North Cascades Institute. The Institute does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, gender, gender expression, gender identity, sexual orientation, physical or mental disability, military, genetic information, ancestry, marital status, age, citizenship or any other basis prohibited by law in any of its policies or programs.

About North Cascades Institute

The Institute’s mission is to inspire and empower environmental stewardship for all through transformative educational experiences in nature. Since 1986 we have helped connect people, nature and community through science, art, literature and the hands-on study of natural and cultural history. Our goal is to help people of all ages and backgrounds experience and enjoy the mountains, rivers, forests, people and wildlife of the Pacific Northwest – so all will care for and protect this special place. The Institute is committed to innovation and excellence in environmental learning and leadership in the nonprofit community. We believe that sustainable communities are built on healthy environments, vibrant economies and social equity.

North Cascades Institute,, is a respected, national leader among U.S. environmental education organizations. The Institute is in sound financial health with a $3 million budget and strong reserves, and more than a decade of Four-Star ratings with Charity Navigator. The Institute was also voted “Best Place to Work” in the 2013 Bellingham Alive – Best in the Northwest annual readers’ poll. This is a wonderful opportunity to join North Cascades Institute at a time of exciting growth. 

How to Apply:

Please apply online on our website at:

Complete the online application and upload a cover letter and resume. Please indicate in your cover letter which specific program areas you are most interested in working with.