Connect Kids to Nature on Giving Tuesday

Connect kids to nature… donate  today!

Connect kids to nature…donate today!

Dear Friends,

Giving Tuesday is here!
Your gift to Wild Whatcom will help kids discover a love of nature, a passion for learning, and the confidence to be leaders. 
At Wild Whatcom, nature is a place for kids to indulge in wonder, play, compassion, service, and connection. By giving to Wild Whatcom, you develop youth who care about the earth and understand how connected we are to our planet.
You – our supporters – grow our programs and strengthen our impact. We are forever grateful. You have been part of many accomplishments this year:

  • A robust partnership with Bellingham Public Schools to double the number of kids getting outdoors.

  • A focus on equity and inclusion across the organization to ensure that we reach a diverse population.

  • Tens of thousands of nature hours for kids to explore and learn outdoors.

  • A demonstrated ethic of service when kids give back to their community.

  • Strong programs (like EdVentures and SEED) to reach youth at Title 1 schools and those with disabilities.

  • $20,000 in scholarships to families who otherwise would not have the chance to participate.

While program fees and grants provide a financial base, we rely upon you to offer scholarships, serve those in need, reach new audiences, and grow a vibrant organization. Wild Whatcom maximizes the impact of every dollar you entrust to us.  
On this Giving Tuesday, please take a moment to support kids and invest in our shared future.

On behalf of Wild Whatcom and the 2,000+ kids who have explored outdoors this year with incredible mentors – THANK YOU! 

May your holidays be restorative and happy. Warm wishes from our Wild Whatcom family to yours.

Emily Barnett Highleyman

Executive Director

P.S. Please feel free to share with others so they, too, can support a locally grown, top-notch non-profit, working right here in Whatcom County.

Just in Time for the Holidays! Order your Wild Whatcom Shirt Today!

On the back: It's raining, it's pouring, let's go exploring!

On the back: It's raining, it's pouring, let's go exploring!

Dear friends of Wild Whatcom!

We’re making our popular tech shirts available for special order just in time for the holidays. Order one (or more) today!

Brand: Sport-Tek
Style: Short sleeve, crew neck
Color: Forest Green (note: Youth size S and M – Royal Blue Only)
Sizes: Mens/Womens/Youth

Cost: $18/each
Order here.
Last day to order: Sunday, December 2.


Happy Thanksgiving!

Your friends at Wild Whatcom

Changes Afoot at Wild Whatcom!

Leadership transition at Wild Whatcom on the horizon

Leadership transition at Wild Whatcom on the horizon

Dear Participants and Families,

In the spring of 2019, when the salmon berries are bursting and the barn swallows are carving S-turns over your head, Wild Whatcom will begin its next chapter under new executive leadership.

To that end, we have an important announcement. Emily Barnett Highleyman, after five incredibly successful years as Executive Director, has decided to depart the organization in May of 2019.

We have nothing but accolades for Emily. In fact, here are a just a few things (out of many) that occurred under her leadership:

  • In 2014 we provided nature outings for 400+ kids. Today that number is over 2,000.

  • Wild Whatcom now has a thriving partnership with Bellingham schools, serving over 1,000 youth.

  • We've grown our program impact from 30,000 participant Nature Hours to over 50,000!

  • We provide $20,000 in financial assistance to those in need - a five-fold increase.

  • Mentors used to store gear in their cars and prepare for outings at their kitchen tables. Today we have an office that serves a team of 25.

If you are reading this announcement then you have played a part in these accomplishments. Thank you!

Emotionally, it will be quite challenging to see Emily go. She brings the type of compassionate leadership this world needs; she is wise, collaborative, effective, passionate, visionary, loving, and on and on.  
Fortunately, it will not be hard organizationally. Why? Emily has strengthened the fabric of the organization at all levels. Systems are working smoothly, programs are supported by amazing staff, there is a well-configured budget, and best of all, there is a clear direction in which the organization is headed, endorsed and developed by the staff and board – toward a Wild Whatcom that is more diverse, equitable, and inclusive in all facets of its operations and programming.

Thanks to the long lead time, we have 5+ months to make a smooth and empowering transition. We are putting things in place to ensure that all goes well for Emily, for the staff, for our partners, for you, and most importantly for our participants. The kiddos getting muddy in Arroyo Park will continue to enjoy the beautiful outdoors under great mentorship and thoughtful programming as they always have.

Here is the plan. Our five-person Transition Team will announce the new position in early 2019. Between now and then we will be seeking basic input from a variety of stakeholders and consulting with executive transition experts. Interviews could be held as early as February and proceed from there. There will likely be a planned overlap between the new director and Emily, depending on timing.

We are tremendously grateful for all that Emily has brought to Wild Whatcom. We are healthy and vibrant thanks to her strong leadership and we wish her all the best in her next endeavor. Emily has a few words to share with you as well, below.  

Feel free to reply to this announcement with questions or comments and we will do our best to answer you as quickly as possible.


Wild Whatcom Board of Directors
To the wonderful Wild Whatcom community,

When I was hired in 2014, I made a personal commitment to 3-5 years. This May will be 5 wonderful years! Though I know I will miss being in the midst of such a phenomenal organization and team, the time feels ripe for me to move on to new endeavors and adventures.

What a fantastic journey these past 5 years have been! I am overcome with gratitude and awe for the amazing team of folks I have the privilege to work alongside. That is one of the hardest parts about deciding to step down as ED. And, it is also exactly why I can imagine leaving; the fact that we have such a solid and superlative group of leaders who will carry forth the mission of Wild Whatcom with great care and success.

As you know, they can’t do it alone. They need you - the wonderful community that you are - to continue to support the vital work of connecting youth to nature in meaningful ways. Together, we mentor youth to become empowered and compassionate stewards who take action as positive change-makers in their communities.

It’s hard to imagine more important work in this time of acrimony and environmental onslaught. Thank you for your sustained commitment to this incredible endeavor. I know that the skills, insights, and vision of the next leader will bring exciting new horizons to Wild Whatcom.

As always, don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions or input. I’d love to hear from you and hope to stay in touch far into the future!

Happy Thanksgiving to all.

With gratitude,


HOWL at Carl Cozier with Wild Whatcom

Holly Roger with two students at Larrabee State Park

Holly Roger with two students at Larrabee State Park

Thanks to the Chuckanut Health Foundation, over a hundred students at Carl Cozier Elementary are exploring nature outdoors, learning new concepts, and improving mental and physical health. After two months of implementation, the HOWL program (Healthy Outdoor Wanders and Learning) is off to a great start, popular with teachers and students alike. The grant focuses on three different outdoor education pathways within the school: field outings with 2nd and 3rd-grade classes; after-school explorations with a broad range of ages; and outdoor activities with students with disabilities in grades K-5.

The field outings provide an opportunity for kids to leave the classroom and bring their learning outdoors -- to accentuate classroom learning with hands-on exploration and the chance to immerse themselves in nature first-hand. Despite the fact that Carl Cozier sits beside a beautiful nature area, this is, for many students, their first foray into the forest. Trees become the classroom walls, and the ecosystem of forest life, alive with bugs, plants, birds, and fungus, the teacher. In a lesson about observation, for example, students explored spiders, slugs, and insects, as well as the nuances of fall leaves, and began to understand how each was connected. “It was really neat to see students get excited about digging in the dirt to find what might be hiding below. The curiosity and inquiry were endless,” says Wild Whatcom Mentor, Nicole Keeler. “The hardest part of the outing was having to leave the woods at the end!”  Another outing provided the chance for students to become map-makers; exploring the land first-hand and then putting that knowledge to practical use charting the trails within the woods.

As one of the teachers expressed, “I love Wild Whatcom. Learning about the outdoors is so beneficial for our students.” And the enthusiasm is contagious; it’s just as exciting for the mentors working with the students as it is for the students and teachers themselves. Nicole Keeler sums it up perfectly: “It's really empowering to see students during regular field trips and again after school. The interpersonal connections and the consistent exploration in nature create a more meaningful experience for everybody.”

Wild Whatcom Participates in Jane Goodall Event

Join us at the Mount Baker Theatre, Monday, October 8

Join us at the Mount Baker Theatre, Monday, October 8

Wild Whatcom is participating alongwith other invited environmental organizations in a no-host tabling event as part of the talk by world-renowned chimpanzee expert and conservationist, Dr. Jane Goodall on Monday, October 8 at 7PM at the Mount Baker Theatre.

The SOLD OUT Tomorrow & Beyond event is part of Western Washington University’s (WWU) Fraser Lecture Series.

Play Poker - Support Wild Whatcom

Come raise a pint of Greenwood IPA to celebrate Jon, our community of friends and family, and raise some money for Wild Whatcom and Bellingham Youth Paddlesports.

  • Saturday, November 17, 2018

  • 6:00PM

  • Kulshan 2 - (Kulshan 2 is a 21 & over venue)

  • 1538 Kentucky St., Bellingham. View Map

Texas Hold-Em, Kulshan Beer, Poker and Costume Prizes, Kulshan Swag, Food Trucks, Fun.

Jon would love this. Getting our community together, having fun, & raising some money to support two youth groups that his girls love. Please come out, even if poker isn't your thing... Because it's not about that - it's about celebrating life. The way Jon did. As he would say... "Get Some!"

Come play, watch, or just hang out. Look forward to seeing you there.

Tickets on sale now!

Fundraiser - A Wild Thyme with Wild Whatcom

Photo Credit: Jeff Lewis

Photo Credit: Jeff Lewis

Join us Thursday, June 7, 2018 for a "wild  thyme" at Ciao Thyme as they welcome Wild Whatcom for a multi-course, fundraising dinner to celebrate the season and help raise funds to get even more Whatcom kiddos outside! Celebrate the best food the Pacific Northwest has to offer while supporting Wild Whatcom's work to better serve kids who face disadvantages in our society.

Early-bird special through April 11, 2018: $110/guest

Regular pricing begins April 12, 2018: $125/guest

Reserve your seat today! Tickets available.


Wild seafood contributed by: