We at Recreation Northwest, known for producing fun community events over the years, now plan to leverage our Fairhaven Park Stewardship and Parkscriptions programs to expand and evolve into new programming and efforts to benefit our community. We are evolving to add Outdoor Recreation & Nature Education programs for the public as the path forward to meet the needs of our community.
This evolution is our response to the impact we felt as the wave of the pandemic swept our events and related activities away. We went back to the drawing board. With funding secured in 2021 to explore opportunities for new programs, we focused on moving forward as a nimble organization and have added capacity to fulfill these goals. Our Strategic Position is built on people. Our primary partners are Bellingham Parks, Bellingham Tourism, and the WWU Recreation & Management Leadership Department.
Historically, Recreation Northwest has served a variety of communities. Beginning with multi-sport races, adding park stewardship, and expanding into outdoor recreation economic development advocacy -while simultaneously creating a pilot program, Parkscriptions, to promote time in nature— our geographic and demographic scopes have evolved along with the people we’ve worked with and served. Through our pandemic pivot, we chose to focus on evolving and merging our Fairhaven Park Stewardship and Parkscriptions programs to create opportunities for the public to get outside.
Recreation Northwest partnered with Bellingham Parks as Stewards for Fairhaven Park in 2014. We chose this particular park due to the impacts of the Bellingham Traverse Trail Run leg – our signature event at the time. To complement the work over the years, last year we removed wildlife barriers and with our partners from Wild Whatcom and Phillips 66 Refinery, expanded our stewardship efforts to remove additional invasive species- clearing the space for restoration and public enjoyment of nature. We also began working with the Whatcom Coalition for Environmental Education (WCEE) to collaboratively develop “Outdoor Classroom” spaces for active and passive public education and use. Our recent WCEE Focus Group included representatives from Bellingham Parks, North Cascades Institute, Wild Whatcom as members who use Fairhaven Park and other City Parks for their programs.
Experiences & Education. Over the course of the past two years we have witnessed resounding recognition for the value that the outdoors holds and the healing powers nature provides. We also recognized a need to educate people as stewards of our public lands and demonstrate how to recreate responsibly, leave no trace, and show respect for others. We are committed to fill that gap for our guests, our community, and the industry. Our programs will also reflect our Parkscriptions philosophy highlighting the mental, emotional and community health benefits of nature.
Recreation Northwest is proud to be working with Bellingham Parks and community partners for the stewardship of Fairhaven Park; educating people about the benefits of nature, essential outdoors skills, and trail etiquette; and bringing attention to Woodstock Farm. These fill gaps in our community. We also have gaps to fill in diversity, equity and inclusion in the outdoors. We have been developing programming for Outdoor Recreation and Nature Education offering a variety of beginning and intermediate level experiences of curated educational activities outside with small groups of people in Bellingham’s Parks.
We are actively exploring possibilities with organizations that care for underserved populations in Whatcom County to create a new program to connect people with nature. Custom experiences are available by request. Scholarships are available for those who are interested in participating.
We are a mission-driven organization that is willing and able to recognize and respond to needs in our community. Our current goals are tied to our commitments and identified opportunities. Reflecting our evolution as an organization, we have an updated mission and vision statements for 2022 to move us forward. 2022 Recreation Northwest Strategic Plan (PDF)
Our new mission: We teach the health benefits of nature, promote outdoor recreation, and steward the places where we play.
Our new vision: Community Connected to Nature.
Join us outside in small groups for our Outdoor Recreation & Nature Education classes and experiences. Visit RecreationNorthwest.org to view our list of stewardship work parties, outdoor activities, hikes & walks, and naturalist classes for the whole family! Our calendar also lists regularly scheduled daily walks and hikes in local Bellingham Parks to help you get outside and unwind in nature with our guides leading the way. We will also offer more robust hikes exploring the Chuckanut Mountains with our Adventure Shuttle providing transportation for guests from our downtown headquarters.
This is our invitation for you to join us outdoors in nature.
~ Yours Outdoors,
Todd Elsworth, Executive Director.
The City of Bellingham is situated on the ancestral and traditional homelands of the Coast Salish Peoples, whose tribal treaty rights we support and for whose enduring care of the lands and waters we are deeply grateful.
Todd Elsworth is one of the many “Mossy-haired lunatics roaming the dripping peninsulas”, described in “I’m Here for the Weather” by Tom Robbins. As executive director, he works to fulfill our mission to teach the health benefits of nature, promote outdoor recreation, and steward the places where we play.