Mountain School Program Instructor

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Diablo Lake, WA
United States

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Job Description:

The North Cascades Institute is recruiting for five Mountain School Program Instructors based out of the Environmental Learning Center at Diablo Lake, Washington. These are temporary/seasonal, full-time positions from February 22, 2022-June 3, 2022.

These positions primarily supports the Mountain School program in the spring, and can continue into other programs areas in the summer. A successful candidate may hail from a variety of professional backgrounds, but loves teaching and being outdoors, is inspired to work with children and is passionate about different ways of knowing including science, art, play, creativity and nature connection. They are energetic, professional, motivated, and a cooperative team player willing to work hard, have fun and make a difference. They possess a strong motivation to grow professionally as an instructor and as a key staff member of a mission-driven organization.

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 in the heart of some of North America’s most beautiful, wild landscapes and offers extraordinary opportunities for outdoor recreation and nature connection. This region has been inhabited by native tribes for over 9,000 years and native culture and society remain active and vibrant in their ancestral homelands here.


Position Location and Description

The work location for the Mountain School Instructor is at the North Cascades Environmental Learning Center located in the heart of the North Cascades National Park on Diablo Lake. At a minimum, a Mountain School Instructor would work from late February to early June.


Mountain School Program

Mountain School is our principal school-based education program. It is a nationally recognized residential environmental education program serving approximately 2400 elementary and middle school students annually. 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. Program instructors lead trail groups of students primarily from fifth grade classrooms, facilitating a transformative, hands-on, and safe outdoor learning experience.


Mountain School Program Spring 2022 Specific

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we have temporarily shifted our overnight programs to day programming. For our day programming, we give the schools two options. The first option is for the students to come to North Cascades Institute Learning Center for the day. The second option is for the instructors to meet the school at one of their local parks. For our park visits with Bellingham School District, we have partnered with the City of Bellingham to lead stewardship programming for part of their field trip. Both options include a virtual session with the classes beforehand, where we share about the Institute and the National Park. A National Park Ranger joins the talk, and the students are able to ask questions in regard to the park, and the upcoming field trip.


On Site Programs

One site programs will be held at the Environmental Learning Center. Students arrive at the Learning Center by mid-morning, and leave in the afternoon. Snacks are offered to them, while they bring their own lunch. Instructors are with the students on average for 3 and a half hours. This program will occur on average twice a week, typically on Thursdays and Fridays.


Park Programs

Park programs will be held at a local park near the school of the students we are working with on that day. The students arrive by mid-morning, and leave in the afternoon. When partnering with Bellingham schools, we partner with the city of Bellingham and perform stewardship programs at the park locations. Each trail group does one hour of stewardship during the day. Instructors help support and lead stewardship. Instructors are with their students on average for 4 hours during park program days. This program will occur on average twice a week, typically on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Instructors will be visiting parks for one of these days on average, and have the other day for lesson planning and projects.



Program Instruction and Delivery (85%):

  • Design and Instruct lessons in natural and cultural history, science, the arts, social emotional learning and topics such as: climate change, fluvial/alluvial valleys, watersheds, decomposition, web of life, geology, microscopes, mind mapping and interconnectedness.
  • Lead program participants on trail hikes with groups ranging from 8-13 participants. Hikes range from 0.25-4 miles across rugged North Cascades trails and terrain.
  • Lead discussions about invasive plant species during stewardship projects.
  • Lead discussions around tool safety during stewardship projects.
  • Lead Mountain School student arrival orientations.
  • Create a safe and transformative learning environment for youth and adults.
  • Assist with maintenance and management of program inventory and materials.
  • Drive vehicle to and from off-campus locations (we will train and certify you).
  • Hold role that rotations to assist with Mountain School logistics and program needs.
  • Assist in other Learning Center program areas as needed.

Administration (10%):

  • Regularly report on programming activities and field issues/concerns to Program Coordinator.
  • Participate in all scheduled program trainings including weekly check-ins with supervisor.
  • Report any risk management incidents.
  • Engage in self-guided research and learning into relevant natural history topics.

General (5%):

  • Support equity initiatives at North Cascades Institute and actively contribute to NCI as a community of belonging that is welcoming and accessible to everyone. Develop a personal equity, diversity, and inclusion related goal(s) and track progress towards your goal(s) with your supervisor.
  • Participate in Learning Center staff meetings.
  • Provide ELC facilities, housekeeping, and kitchen staff with occasional light duty support.
  • Support marketing and registration to promote enrollment.
  • Other duties as assigned.




  • Ability to work with people from diverse backgrounds, cultures, and ages.
  • Enthusiasm for learning and teaching about the natural world.
  • Previous experience in teaching roles, group leadership and facilitation.
  • Good judgment, flexibility and ability to work independently and reliably.
  • Ability to work flexible hours including evenings and weekends.
  • Ability to work and live in a small, rural community.
  • Final offer of employment is 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.
  • Successful applicants will be required to obtain either Wilderness First Responder (preferred) or Wilderness Advanced First Aid certification as soon as possible. NCI can support certifications through as cost share provisions, local trainings and other strategies.
  • Valid driver’s license and driving record check must have no more than one moving violation in the past three years, no DUI, reckless driving or serious moving violations, etc.


  • Working collaboratively with individuals from different identity groups, including historically excluded groups. Teaching and/or leading elementary and middle school youth, as well as working with teachers and parent chaperones.
  • Employing different teaching methods and styles to accommodate different audiences and learning styles.
  • Developing lesson plans.
  • Leading wilderness programs and associated risk management protocols.
  • Creating and identifying safe learning environments.
  • Wilderness First Responder or Wilderness First Aid certifications.
  • Experiential based teaching and learning.
  • Bachelor’s degree or Associate’s in related field.
  • Knowledge of basic scientific principles and how to teach them.
  • Knowledge of the North Cascades natural and cultural history.


Working Environment

  • The location is remote, in the forested mountains of the North Cascades ecosystem, and is home to many forms of wildlife - animals and plants that require knowledgeable and responsible cautionary behavior. Employees are required to use appropriate safety equipment and follow standard safety practices.
  • Weather can vary from hot and dry to cold, rainy, and snowy. Candidates must be able to use personal outdoor equipment to prevent exposure to elements.
  • The position requires travel by car to other worksites or meeting places once to twice a week.
  • Working hours occasionally include evenings, weekends, and overtime.


Physical Demands

  • Sit, stand, dance, talk, yell, sing, and hear, use hands and fingers to operate field equipment; reach with hands and arms.
  • Sitting in a car for up to two hours at a time, and four hours a day at most.
  • Job duties are often carried out while hiking over uneven terrain with participants.
  • Candidates will be trained and certified to use and lead canoe programs during summer programs.
  • Candidates must be able to lift, load, pack, and carry teaching materials and field equipment in excess of 30 pounds.


Compensation and Duration

This is a temporary/seasonal, full-time, non-exempt position. The pay range is $15.50-$15.75 per hour depending on experience and benefits include sick leave and holiday pay. Successful applicants to this position can apply to serve in various roles at different seasons of the year. At a minimum, a Mountain School Instructor would work from late February to early June. The Mountain School Instructor position may be available again during the fall season from September to early December. In between Mountain School seasons, interested candidates may also apply for summer employment opportunities at NCI.


Housing (updated 12/14/2021)

Shared rental housing may be available for the duration of the position, either at the Learning Center or in the neighboring town of 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). Smoking is not allowed in housing, during programs, or on the Institute’s campus. Pets are not allowed in housing or on the Institute’s campus.


Start Date

February 22, 2022


Job Duration

February 22, 2022 – June 3, 2022

*Following the end of Mountain School in early June, they may continue into other employment opportunities at NCI by applying for summer positions.


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

North Cascades Institute's mission is to inspire environmental stewardship through transformative learning 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.


North Cascades Institute is a respected leader among U.S. environmental education organizations, and we believe that sustainable communities are built on healthy environments, vibrant economies and social equity. The Institute is in sound financial health with a $4 million budget and strong reserves, and 15 four-star ratings with Charity Navigator for sound fiscal management and commitment to accountability and transparency.

How to Apply:

Application Deadline

Review of applications will begin immediately. Position will remain open until filled.


To Apply

Please apply online on our website at:

Complete the online application and upload a resume and a cover letter.