Mercer Slough Environmental Education Center

A collaboration with the City of Bellevue, offering nature-based programs for all ages.

Mercer Slough Education Programs

Located on a biologically diverse 320-acre wetland nature park in the heart of urban Bellevue, WA, Mercer Slough Environmental Education Center is a collaboration between the City of Bellevue and Pacific Science Center. To learn more about Mercer Slough Nature Park or adult and family programs offered by the City of Bellevue, stop by the Visitor Center and talk to a Park Ranger or visit bellevuewa.gov.

Kids & Teens

We offer exciting, hands-on environmental science programs year-round for kids in preschool through grade 12.

KIDS

Camps for Curious Minds

Pacific Science Center offers camps year-round for kids in grades PreK-12. With over 60 camps at six different locations, we have something for everyone. Our camps offer hands-on science experiments and innovative learning experiences that create lifelong memories and inspire the inner scientist in your child.

Nature Club

Students, homeschool groups, scouts, friends and more can explore the wetlands of Mercer Slough in their very own Nature Club. Engage in hands-on activities, experiments, hikes and educational games, then explore the outdoors and canoe in search of wildlife.

Wild B’earthday Parties

Celebrate your birthday in the wild with a party at Mercer Slough in Bellevue! Wild B’earthday Parties are available Saturdays from mid-September to early June. Explore the wetlands, play ecology games, and then celebrate your party amidst the tree tops at our facility.

Scouts in the Wild

After school and on weekends, groups of children in grades K-5 can take a guided hike through Mercer Slough with our educators. Program options are loosely based on scout badge requirements, but groups can also include campfire groups, homeschool cooperatives or informal groups of friends.

TEENS

Lake Washington Watershed Internship

The Lake Washington Watershed Internship is a year-long program at Mercer Slough that assists teens in becoming leaders of environmental stewardship of their local community through the mentoring of elementary-aged students, research, habitat restoration and stream monitoring.

Environmental Science Pathways (Grades 6-8)

The 8-week fall series begins October 1. Dive into an exploration of environmental science and clean technology in Environmental Science Pathways, a weekly after-school program for teens at Mercer Slough. Discover the science behind renewable energy, watersheds and our natural environment, as well as the role that scientists play while you conduct experiments in our state-of-the-art wet lab.

Environmental Science & Technology Practicum (Grades 9-12)

The 9-week fall series begins October 10. Explore environmental science, clean technology and associated careers at Mercer Slough. Each week, high school students participate in hands-on aquatic and terrestrial research out in the wetland and in our state-of-the-art wet lab, and discover educational pathways for environmental science career fields.

Science Educators in Training

Science Educators in Training volunteer for our Camps for Curious Minds program, providing valuable help to campers and camp educators at all six camp locations throughout the summer. Volunteers gain leadership skills, service learning verification and more.

Educators & School Groups

From field study programs in the wetlands to hands-on classroom lessons presented right in your classroom, Mercer Slough offers a variety of fun and innovative programs to engage your students in environmental science.

PreK-8 Field Trips To Mercer Slough

Explore wetland, pond, slough and forest habitats with a half field-based and half lab-based field trip. Bring your students to the 320-acre nature park for guided hikes and experiments in our state-of-the-art wet lab.

PreK-8 Classroom Lessons At Your School

Bring the Slough right to your school with interactive lessons taught in your classroom by Science Center educators. Our lessons offer a unique experiential complement to your science curricula while building excitement for nature and ecology.

Family & Group Programs

Discover the wonders of nature with a guided experience through Mercer Slough Nature Park with your friends, family, clubs or other groups.

Wild B’earthday Parties

Celebrate your birthday in the wild with a party at Mercer Slough in Bellevue! Wild B’earthday Parties are available Saturdays from mid-September to early June. Explore the wetlands, play ecology games, and then celebrate your party amidst the tree tops at our facility.

Nature Club

Students, homeschool groups, scouts, friends and more can explore the wetlands of Mercer Slough in their very own Nature Club. Engage in hands-on activities, experiments, hikes and educational games, then explore the outdoors and canoe in search of wildlife.

Scouts in the Wild

After school and on weekends, groups of children in grades K-5 can take a guided hike through Mercer Slough with our educators. Program options are loosely based on scout badge requirements, but groups can also include campfire groups, homeschool cooperatives or informal groups of friends.

Guided Family Night Walks 

Explore Mercer Slough with your family at monthly Night Walks. Examine skulls and conduct experiments in the lab to discover how animals survive at night. Call owls, listen for nocturnal creatures and participate in hands-on sensory activities.

Early Learners

Polliwog Preschool

Polliwog Preschool is a school year program for children ages 3-5, held at Mercer Slough Environmental Education Center in Bellevue. At Polliwog Preschool, nature-based themes and activities encourage curiosity and foster a love of nature and learning.

Preschool Class Programs

Explore the wonders of nature with an environmental science program led by our educators at Mercer Slough Environmental Education Center in Bellevue. Go on a one-of-a-kind field trip to the Slough to learn about plants and animals, or bring Mercer Slough to you with interactive classroom lessons taught at your venue.

Preschool Camps for Curious Minds

Pacific Science Center’s preschool camps, designed for 4-year-olds and children entering kindergarten, offer fun science projects and hands-on learning experiences that are sure to inspire the inner scientist in your child.

Tadpole Tots

Investigate the creatures in a pond and uncover the hidden wonders of a forest with your child as you explore Mercer Slough in this 8-week series.

Visit Mercer Slough

1625 118th Avenue SE
Bellevue, WA 98005

For more information about our programs, or to register, call (206) 443-2925.

Meet Our Staff - Spring 2015

Amanda Mintz – Early Childhood Education Coordinator

With over a decade of experience teaching early learners, Amanda holds a bachelor’s degree in environmental science and master’s degree in teaching from UW, and joined Mercer Slough after teaching 2nd grade for 2 years. Amanda has experience with Pacific Science Center programs, including Science On Wheels, summer camps, and weekend programs at Mercer Slough. Amanda is thrilled to combine her passion for the outdoors and teaching young children at Mercer Slough.

Charity Villines – Educator

Charity is thrilled to be at Pacific Science Center, licking banana slugs and playing with pond slime! Her love began as a 3-year-old, when she tried to swim in the model tide pool. She discovered her love for science education as a Discovery Corps member, teaching children in the Tropical Butterfly House. She traveled east to study biology and environmental studies at Warren Wilson College in North Carolina, built trails in Maine, surveyed northern spotted owls in California, and led volunteers of all ages in restoring urban parks in Seattle.

Chloe Wallace – Site Supervisor

Born and raised in Seattle, Chloe spent her days splashing in puddles, searching for bugs and dreaming about Orcas. Her love of nature led her to Western Washington University, where she studied Environmental Policy and Education. After working for environmental non-profits in communications and outreach, she fled the office life to be an educator at Mercer Slough. In 2014 she earned a Masters’s degree in Science Education from UW and a certificate from IslandWood in Education for Environment and Community.

Dan Hannafious – Educator

Dan brings his experiences from Washington, Oregon and Alaska to share at the Mercer Slough. He enjoyed exploring the outdoors early on and extended his experiences to include birding, animal tracking, dog mushing (Alaska) and learning the local landscape through the eyes of native lore. He was a biologist and camp director for the Hood Canal Salmon Enhancement Group, co-managing research investigations of hypoxia in Hood Canal, facilitating programs for The Washington Nature Mapping Program and providing educational Bat Talks around the Puget Sound.

Elley Vanderlinde – Educator

Elley is a recent graduate from the University of Vermont’s Ecology and Conservation program. At school she was a teaching assistant for environmental studies while writing her thesis, which focused on the effects natural areas have on students’ ability to focus. She has worked as a youth development professional with the American Youth Foundation for 3 years, then as a supervisor for a summer ecology camp in Boston, MA. Elley was born in Tacoma, but spent her life in New England until she moved to Seattle to find her job at Mercer Slough. Elley will continue her wetland education next fall in UW’s Wetland Management Program.

Ian Schooley – Lead Educator

Ian grew up in the shadow of the Rocky Mountains where the Platte River cuts through the Colorado plateau, but the lack of salt water drove him to the Puget Sound. After a brief 10-year stint at the Seattle Art Museum his love of nature, being outdoors, and desire to help people connect with each other and  life around them lead him to pursue a certificate in Environment, Education and Community from IslandWood and Masters in Curriculum and Instruction from UW.

Kelly Fish – Educator

From Oregon’s Willamette Valley to the Puget Sound region, Kelly is a lifelong inhabitant of the Pacific Northwest. She graduated from Seattle Pacific University with a B.A. in natural science education, a K-8 teaching certificate and a minor in biology. She researched phytoplankton diversity and frog distribution on Blakely Island, coral reef ecology on the Belize Barrier Reef and native plants. She also was an earth science educator at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry. Kelly believes in encouraging children to spend time outdoors, and hopes to inspire them to be stewards of nature.

Leilani Nussman – PreK-8 Programs Coordinator

After childhood in Colorado, Leilani earned a Bachelor’s  in Biology from the University of Portland, a certificate in Education, Environment, and Community from IslandWood, and a Master’s in Science Education from UW. She believes that all students have a scientist inside them, and hands-on learning is the best way to draw that scientist out. Her favorite part of her job is taking children on their first camping or canoeing trip and hearing their stories about their favorite parts of camp. She hopes all campers leave Mercer Slough with a new appreciation for the natural world of the Puget Sound watershed.

Lisa Keith – Educator

Lisa enjoys poetry, long walks on the beach, and poking dead stuff with sticks. As a kid, she spent her time playing in the woods, raising tadpoles and wooly bear caterpillars and exploring the beaches of South Puget Sound. Years later, after a degrees, work as a hospice chaplain, stint as a professional gardener, and a habit of serial science and naturalist volunteerism, it dawned on Lisa that becoming a science educator could allow her to be all those things she wanted to be as a kid. When she’s not geeking out over aquatic macroinvertebrates at Mercer Slough, you can find Lisa gardening, camping, trail running, continuing her education on all things nature-related, and spending time with family and friends.

Matthew Fineman – Educator

A California native, Matthew grew up camping, backpacking through the California National Parks, and searching for tadpoles under the BART tracks. After graduating from Oberlin College with a Bachelor of Arts in Biology, he worked in a biotechnology lab doing research on monoclonal antibody extraction. He then accepted a seasonal position for the Forest Inventory and Analysis program in Idaho, examining the health of forests and creating landscape theoretical climax ecology. Matthew then joined EarthCorps, an environmental restoration company based out of Seattle. Matthew quickly fell in love with the Seattle topography and flora and decided to take classes at UW in Wetland Science and Management. Matthew hopes to educate a new generation about wetlands and empower them to make a difference.

Melanie Preston – Educator

Growing up in Michigan, Melanie grew to love the natural world while walking the garden with her mother and grandmothers, exploring the woods and river near her home, and finding inspiration in school. She earned a degree in biology from Cedarville University in Ohio and finished her teaching program in Michigan. While in college, she spent her first summer in Grand Teton National Park, where she later worked several seasons as a park ranger. From Wyoming, Melanie made her way to the beautiful Pacific Northwest where she taught high school science and worked as a park ranger in Olympic National Park. She particularly enjoyed teaching environmental science and leading a local park restoration project. When she is not sharing her love for the outdoors at the Mercer Slough, Melanie enjoys hiking, biking, kayaking, alpine climbing, reading, and playing guitar.

Nikko Gagnon – Educator

Growing up in the Northeast Nikko spent her childhood outside camping, canoeing, digging for worms and playing in the snow. Following this love for the outdoors she earned a B.S. in Environmental Science from the University of New Hampshire.  Past jobs have included lab technician in a stable isotope lab and wildlife intern with the National Park Service.  Only recently did she find her passion for outdoor education with a field teacher position in Western Maine. With a fondness for the Pacific Northwest Nikko found a spot here at Mercer Slough as an Educator this spring. When she is not teaching Nikko enjoys rock climbing, hiking, playing with her dog and reading a good book.

Sandee Ditt – Weekend Educator

Sandee is a lifelong resident of Washington. She recently received a B.S. in Natural Resource Science from WSU. Growing up she spent a lot of childhood camping, reading and loving animals. In college, Sandee had the opportunity to work at the WSU Wild Ungulate Research Facility and to volunteer for the Department of Fish and Wildlife. Sandee worked as an Assistant Educator at Mercer Slough during the summer of 2013. She now works full time in Seattle in an office, but is glad to be spending her weekends outside back at Mercer Slough. In her free time, she can be found kayaking, hiking and exploring Western Washington.

Siri Nelson – Teen & Family Programs Supervisor

Siri Nelson grew up in Seattle and has a B.S. from Evergreen State College and a M.S. in Biology from UW. Siri has a unique background as both an educator and scientist. Prior to becoming a teacher at MSEEC, she conducted research in the fields of ecology, conservation biology and biomedical genomics. At UW she was a National Science Foundation GK-12 OACIS fellow and co-taught high school ecology and biology classes, bringing novel research to local high school students. The coolest part of her job is mentoring young people interested in environmental science careers and connecting them with the greater science community. Siri loves getting outside any way she can and making all manner of stuff.

Caroline Cook – Early Childhood Educator

Caroline comes to Mercer Slough from North Carolina, where she recently completed a Master’s degree in Environmental Studies from UNC Wilmington. Prior to graduate school, she worked as an educator at several different places along the east coast, leading nature play at an outdoor afterschool, teaching fifth graders about barrier island ecology, and leading guided hikes in the Blue Ridge Mountains. She’s especially excited to learn more about the wildlife and plants of the Pacific Northwest, and to spend time getting muddy in the slough. In her spare time, Caroline likes to hike, crochet, or read a good book.

Mercer Slough Environmental Education Center