National Park Partners

Mount Rainier Institute is a joint effort between Mount Rainier National Park and University of Washington. The combined expertise of Mount Rainier Institute staff and experienced National Park Service educators coupled with incredible natural resources, provide the ingredients for a fantastic environmental education program.


John Hayes-Director
John started leading the effort to establish Mount Rainier Institute in 2012.  Before coming to western Washington, John was the Executive Director of another residential environmental learning center in partnership with the Nation al Park Service at Dunes Learning Center. He has worked in the Environmental Education field for over 20 years. He has taught and coordinated environmental education programs in Vermillion County Illinois, and for Indiana University’s Bradford Woods.  John also worked at Teton Science Schools in Wyoming where he was part of their Graduate Faculty.

Amy Wilson-EE Coordinator

Amy came to us from North Carolina where she worked as an Environmental Education Program Coordinator for a total of four school years.  During the summer months she has worked as a Summer Teacher Naturalist at the Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont.  Amy earned her undergraduate degree in Environmental Studies with a concentration in environmental education from Warren Wilson College.  She is currently working to finish a masters program in environmental education from Montreat College.  When Amy has free time it is usually spent capturing photographs, exploring, playing ukulele, or searching for spiders.


Marina Stevenson-EE Instructor

Marina has worked as an outdoor and classroom educator up and down the East Coast, and recently fell in love with the West while completing her M.Ed. through the University of Idaho's McCall Outdoor Science School. She received her undergraduate degree in Geology/Biology from Brown University and is certified nationally as an EMT. She has taught a variety of natural sciences, but also loves sharing traditional wilderness skills such as friction fire and tracking. When she isn't working with kids, you can usually find her hiking, dancing, or making music with her guitar! 


Adam Bavier-EE Instructor

Adam was born and raised in northern New Jersey, only a few hours' drive from the Catskills, the Adirondacks, the, the Appalachians, and the Atlantic Ocean. As a child he learned to love the flora of eastern North America's temparate deciduous forests, culminating in 2009 when he received a Bachelors of Science from Rutgers University in Botany. He has since taught in his home state, Indiana, Southern California, and Montana seeking always to encourage self discovery and promote investigation. At play, you'll find him star gazing, fly fishing, or any other activity that requires the patience of a tree.

Tara Barnes-EE Instructor

Tara has been working in the education field for the last 15 years.  Her first foray into environmental education happened with the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service at the Prairie Wetlands Learning Center.  For the past three years, she has been teaching English and introducing the outdoor classroom to students in China. Tara has a B.A in ancient history and B.S. in environmental geology. She was a graduate student at Teton Science Schools.  She enjoys hiking, kayaking, traveling and rock hounding, playing the flute, reading and painting.

Sydney Rose Davis-EE Instructor

A Washington native, Sydney is pumped to return home after teaching all over the US the past few years. This past year she was on Cape Cod teaching science, leading adventure trips, and getting dirty on the farm. She has a fondness for forest ecology and geology, and hopes to inspire a love of herptiles in all her students. During the winters, Sydney prefers to migrate with the birds and travel abroad. You might also spot her biking, playing board games, and dancing to 90s music


Conor Lough-EE Instructor

Conor is retruning to Mount Rainier Insititue for his second spring season. Conor has taught environmental education Wild Whatcom and a Youth programs Lead Instructor for the Wilderness Awareness School. Conor holds a BS in Environmental Science and Terrestrial Ecology and a BA in Environmental Education from Western Washington University.


Katie Ewen-Adjunct EE Instructor

Born and raised in beautiful Kentucky, Katie recently graduated with degrees in English and Earth Science from Vassar College. In between her studies, she's led backpacking and kayaking trips everywhere from North Carolina to Alaska and is a trained Wilderness First Responder. She is passionate about conservation, geology, outdoor adventures, and experiential education, and has spent the last seven months leading wildlife research for students in Yellowstone National Park. When not exploring alpine lakes or examining rocks, Katie can be found reading, writing, backing large birthday cakes, building kayaks, and attempting to play the banjo.


Talyn Debus-Villasenor-Adjunct EE Instructor

Talyn was born and raised in Montana, and has been a math and science teacher in Ogden, Utah for the last six years. While teaching in Utah she had the pleasure of leading students on trips to places such as Havasupai Falls in the Grand Canyon, through the Narrows in Zion National Park, and to the Dominican Republic to study at the National Environmental School. She also developed an Environmental Science program at her school and the first high school triathlon team in the state. She is very excited to begin working with Mount Rainier Institute where she hopes to help students develop a deeper understanding and appreciation for the great outdoors.

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School of Environmental and Forest Sciences University of Washington College of the Environment School of Environmental and Forest Sciences