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.

Programs For Kids

Camps for Curious Minds
Summer and Break Camps for grades PreK-12 at Mercer Slough offer outdoor adventure and environmental science in state-of-the-art laboratories, classrooms and hiking trails.

Nature Club
Students, homeschool groups, scouts, friends and more can explore the wetlands in their very own Nature Club.

Parents’ Day Out
Monthly kids-only days of fun and discovery around the wetlands of Mercer Slough.

Scouts in the Wild
Take a guided hike with our educators to reach scout badge requirements. Groups can also include campfire, friend and informal groups, as well as homeschool cooperatives.

Wild B’earthday Parties
Celebrate your birthday in the wild! Explore the wetlands, play ecology games, and then celebrate your party amidst the tree tops.

Programs For Teachers & School Groups

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.

Programs For Teens

Environmental Science Pathways (Grades 6-8)
Explore environmental science and clean technology in a weekly after-school program for teens at Mercer Slough. Discover the science behind renewable energy and watersheds while you conduct experiments in our state-of-the-art wet lab.

Environmental Science & Technology Practicum (Grades 9-12)
Explore environmental science, clean technology and associated careers at Mercer Slough. Each week, high school students participate in hands-on aquatic and terrestrial research and discover educational pathways for environmental science career fields.

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

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

Programs For Early Learners

Tadpole Tots
Investigate creatures in a pond and uncover the hidden wonders of a forest with your child in this 8-week series.

Polliwog Preschool
In our school year program for children ages 3-5, nature-based themes and activities encourage curiosity and foster a love of nature and learning.

Preschool Field Trips to Mercer Slough
Explore the wonders of nature with an environmental science program led by our educators. 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.

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

Family & Group Programs

Wild B’earthday Parties
Celebrate your birthday in the wild! Explore the wetlands, play ecology games, and then celebrate your party amidst the tree tops.

Nature Club
Students, homeschool groups, scouts, friends and more can explore the wetlands 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.

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.

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.

Visit Mercer Slough

1625 118th Avenue SE
Bellevue, WA 98005

For more information about Mercer Slough, call (425) 450-0207.

To register for our programs, call (206) 443-2925.

Mercer Slough Environmental Education Center

Meet Our Staff

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.

Elley Vanderlinde – Educator
Elley is a 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. Her thesis focused on the effects that natural areas have on students’ ability to focus. Elley has always loved working with kids, probably because she is one at heart. She has worked as a youth development professional with the American Youth Foundation for three years before landing her first job out of college as a supervisor for a summer ecology camp in the heart Boston, MA. Elley is continuing her wetland education this fall in the University of Washington’s Wetland Management Program.

Ian Schooley – Teen Programs Coordinator
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.

Leilani Nussman – Youth and Family Programs Eastside Supervisor
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 – Lead Educator
Lisa grew up near Olympia and spent her childhood playing in the woods, raising tadpoles and woolly bear caterpillars (separately, thank goodness) and exploring tide pools on Puget Sound. As a child, she wanted to be a ranger or a wildlife biologist, but got a little distracted. Years later, after an MA, work in hospice, a stint as a professional gardener, and a serious habit of science and naturalist volunteerism, it dawned on Lisa that becoming a science educator could allow her to pursue her childhood dream. These days, she’s exactly where she wants to be when she finally grows up: geeking out over macroinvertebrates and all things environmental science, and playing and learning in nature with kids of all ages.

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, gardening, volunteering as a master gardener, and playing hammered dulcimer.

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 – Manager
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

Erica Calhoon – Educator
After working two summers at Mercer Slough, Erica is very excited to teach school programs through the changing seasons of the wetland. An Olympia native, she has always been pulled towards ecological endeavors. These include a restoration internship with the Nisqually Land Trust, gaining a BA in Environmental Studies from McGill University, working several positions for the Pacific Science Center and teaching with Pacific Marine Research. Given her artistic and musical background, Erica enjoys bringing a creative angle to science education.

Chelsey Hottle – Educator
Chelsey comes to us from the east coast, where she earned her Bachelors of Earth Science Education from California University of Pennsylvania. She brings 6 years of middle school science teaching experience from Pennsylvania and New Jersey. She’s always had a love for nature and the outdoors and feels “in her element” in Washington where she enjoys fishing and hiking. Outdoor education at the Mercer Slough allows her to combine her love of teaching kids and being in nature!

Nathan Zabel – School Programs and Site Supervisor
While Nathan grew up in Minnesota, he always looked forward to vacations with his family, which took him to the mountains of the West. It was those vacations which led him to an appreciation of nature and a desire to educate others about the outdoors. He completed a degree in environmental education and interpretation from the University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point, which included summer jobs working for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Alaska. After graduating, he worked for a nature center in Wisconsin, where he developed and led education programs for all ages. Eventually, the mountains drew him to the Pacific Northwest, where he is excited to contribute to the education at Mercer Slough, while also enjoying the abundant hiking, backpacking, tidepooling, fishing and kayaking opportunities the Pacific Northwest provides.

Kristen Doering – Educator
Kristen grew up in New England and went to college at the University of Vermont. After graduating, she came out West to work for the Forest Service in California. She learned about a long distance trail called the Pacific Crest Trail, and hiked it in its entirety, and when she entered Washington, she knew she had found her new home. She loves spending time hiking, climbing and skiing in the North Cascades. She is glad to make Seattle her new home!

Monica Tonty – Educator
Monica loves getting cold and wet outside for science! She’s a local to the area and after getting a degree in Environmental Science, spent time testing water quality in lakes, snorkeling rivers for salmon, and teaching kids about the ecosystems around them. She enjoys all outdoor activities and is looking forward to getting kids pumped about science.

Mercer Slough Environmental Education Center