STEM Outdoors

The 'Other" STEM: the Overlooked Role of Outdoor-Based Learning in Preparing for Green Jobs 

Although the acronym ‘STEM’ includes four disciplines - Science, Technology, Engineering and Math - the common perception of the term has come to focus on just one: technology. STEM programs, especially those aimed at K-12 students, often revolve around computer programming, robotics or other indoor activities. 

But another world exists: outdoor-based STEM, the heart of multiple industries including fisheries biology, forest management, conservation and agriculture. PEI collaborates with community partners to introduce more students to the opportunities these industries provide, especially for those who love science and engineering and prefer to be outside. 

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PEI Welcomes New Team Members 

2022 brings new faces to PEI 

                             Heather Spalding, Green Jobs Coordinator

Heather joined PEI in 2022 as our Green Jobs Coordinator. In this role, she strengthens statewide green FieldSTEM career pathways in partnership with employers, career and technical colleges, and higher education institutions. She resides in Ellensburg and is excited to connect with PEI’s partners across Washington.

Heather completed her M.S.Ed. in Educational Leadership and Policy with a specialization in Leadership for Sustainability Education, and a B.S. in General Science, both from Portland State University. She also completed a Permaculture and Whole Systems Design Certificate with Toby Hemenway. Heather has developed a variety of experiential education programs and has served in an advisory capacity for organizations that focus on sustainability, student development and leadership, STEM careers, civic engagement, and higher education. Outside of work, Heather enjoys gardening, creating art, reading, writing, and traveling.

                                          Erin Ewald, Board Member

Originally from the Midwest, Erin developed an appreciation for natural resources and the significance of outdoor learning in the Minnesota Boundary Waters. After moving to Washington State with her husband, Erin earned her B.S. in Environmental Science from the University of Washington. Following graduation, she worked with the Conservation District for 10 years as farm program manager where she worked with landowners and other residents on strategies to manage resources for production and water quality. Erin is a graduate of Ag Forestry and has also served on the KGI Watershed Council, Harbor WIldWatch, Greater Gig Harbor Foundation, Open Space Task Force and Pierce County Conservation Futures citizen advisory board. Through these service commitments and life experiences, Erin recognized the value to communities when classroom experiences were moved outside. Investing in programs which connect youth with their environment and helping them develop curiosity and skills to work in natural resource fields, encouraged critical thinking and problem solving.  She is currently the Director of Regulatory Affairs at Taylor Shellfish Farms where she continues to work with farmers on sustainability and compliance. Erin lives with her husband, young daughter, dog and horses in Gig Harbor and enjoys gardening and exploring Washington’s many parks and open spaces.

Get To Know Our People

Join the PEI Team

We are hiring! 

Are you interested in supporting educators in bringing real-world science to students in Washington? If so, join our team! We are currently looking for candidates for two positions: PEI strives to create a diverse team that allows us to effectively connect to the communities we serve. We have a commitment to integrating diverse perspectives into our workplace culture and encourage our employees to bring their whole, authentic selves to work. 

Read more about careers at PEI

Mark Your Calendars

The 2022 FieldSTEM Celebration 

Save the Date for the
2022 FieldSTEM Celebration
Thursday, September 22nd at the Olympia Ballroom.
Join us to recognize the people who make FieldSTEM happen. Meet our board, staff, and this year's awardees to celebrate the work to equitably advance FieldSTEM education across the state.
Drinks and light appetizers will be served.
Suggested donation is $75.
Registration for the event opens early August.

Upcoming Events

Date Workshop Location
April 21 FieldSTEM: ELA Performance Tasks for Grades 4-5 Mary Lyons Elem, Tacoma
April 22, 29 FieldSTEM: Designing High Impact Field Experiences Riverview School District
April 23 FieldSTEM: Math Performance Tasks Statewide (online)
May 4 FieldSTEM: Introduction to Field Investigations Statewide (online)
May 17 FieldSTEM: Schoolyard Investigations Grades K-1 (Spanish) Statewide (online)*
May 18 FieldSTEM: Introduction to FieldDesign Statewide (online)
May 19 FieldSTEM: Schoolyard Investigations Grades 2-3 (Spanish) Statewide (online)*
May 24 FieldSTEM: Introduction to Civic Engagement Statewide (online)

*Registration will open to public at a later date. Visit our calendar for more information.

  With Gratitude

Thank you to our recent funders

Tressa Arbow
Lourdes Flores Skydancer
Grays Harbor Community Foundation
Hampton Lumber
Katie Hatam
Cindy Haverkamp
Kathryn Kurtz
Gareth Waugh
Lisa Perry
Suquamish Tribe
The McGregor Company
Tulalip Tribes Charitable Fund
Copyright © 2022 Pacific Education Institute, All rights reserved.

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