The Environmental Education and Research Center (EERC) at Saint. Edward State Park is a regional environmental education, community outreach, research and innovation hub that currently provides virtual education, youth, and citizen research opportunities. In the future the EERC space will host field teaching and learning, community science, environmental research for broad and diverse K-12 and undergraduate student audiences and neighboring communities.
The partnership at the EERC supports local communities in which experience transforms learning and stewardship takes root. In these days of coronavirus pandemic, much can be learned about the environment in nearby nature close to home. We need not travel far and wide to witness nature in action and experience much of the beauty and mysteries it has to offer. The EERC will continue to host educational and sustainability learning opportunities and easily accessible learning activities for youth and adults to learn about Pacific Northwest ecology and seasonal change.
A Research-Driven Partnership
The partnership at the EERC began and continues as a unique, research driven partnership between the University of Washington Bothell, Washington State Parks, Daniels Real Estate, and numerous municipal and nonprofit entities. UW Bothell brings academic and research expertise to environmental education programs grounded in locally relevant research, environmental issues and community science. WA State Parks provides the 316-acre, diverse landscape at St. Edward State Park which serves as a living laboratory and outdoor classroom. Daniels Real Estate’s lease with WA State Parks to renovate the St. Edward Seminary includes space for the EERC, located in the Gymnasium Annex. Sundberg, Kennedy and Li Au Young architects renovated the Annex for the EERC’s multipurpose classroom and offices with a completion date in 2022. The Friends of St. Edward State Park partners with the EERC in park interpretation and a variety of local community events.
With funding from the Washington State Legislature, the EERC team undertook an extensive planning process during academic year 2019-20 to enlist community input for Center programming. The programmatic framework targets three distinct yet overlapping interest areas identified by the community.
- Youth and Family Outreach and Interpretation Programs
- K-12 School Partnered Programs
- University field courses and undergraduate and community/citizen science research and monitoring projects.
Find the final planning report Executive Summary on here.
Saint Edward State Park
The EERC will be housed in Saint Edward State Park (SESP) which is unique in the Seattle area in the integrity and diversity of its natural ecosystems including healthy upland and riparian forests, open fields, wetlands, streams, and the longest undeveloped lakeshore on Lake Washington. With over 700,000 visitors annually, SESP has ranked as third most heavily visited Park in WA State Parks system. Located in the rapidly growing, increasingly urban and diverse north shore area, WA State Parks classifies SESP as an Urban Gateway Park. With its intact, diverse ecosystems, and proximity to urban communities and diversity of visitorship, SESP serves as an ideal reference site at which to develop outdoor environmental education, outreach and interpretation and community science research programs.
Originally inhabited by Coast Salish peoples, the land which is now Saint Edward State Park was owned by the Catholic Archdiocese who built and ran a seminary between 1929 and 1976. Washington State Parks acquired the property, including the seminary building, pool and gymnasium, in 1977. The park was acquired with Land and Water Conservation Funds for the benefit of the public. In 2017, Washington State Parks signed a 62-year lease with Daniels Real Estate, LLC, a private development firm specializing in historic preservation. The Lodge opened in early 2021 and the EERC indoor classroom and office was completed at the end of 2022.
E3 Washington – Washington State’s Association for Environmental and Sustainability Education