On any given day at the Palouse-Clearwater Environmental Institute (PCEI) in Moscow, Idaho, visitors can see children taking part in an environmental lesson, birds and other wildlife frolicking through the grasses and wetlands, or people hiking our mile-long nature trail.
These are only a smattering of things that take place at PCEI, the region’s environmental institute and outdoor classroom, and a place that has been serving the Palouse region for 30 years.
PCEI was born under trying circumstances.
It all began on a spring day in April 1986, when the nuclear reactor at Chernobyl, Ukraine exploded. The world didn’t know how to react, nor did most of us understand the implications of such an event.
Chernobyl led to many things: stricter nuclear regulations, increased awareness of old nuclear reactor sites and how easily a disaster could unfold. Many people in Moscow rallied around this issue, and thanks to the leadership of several individuals, PCEI was born and quickly took the leadership role in raising awareness and providing solutions to environmental issues.
Over the past 30 years, PCEI has morphed from a small nonprofit that was located in downtown Moscow that focused on pesticide usage and sustainable agriculture into the 26 acre PCEI Nature Center in Moscow, and the 22 acre Rose Creek Nature Preserve in Whitman County, Wash., that focuses on connecting people, place and community.
PCEI works to encourage sustainable living, provide experiential learning and it offers opportunities for serving in our community, all while actively protecting and restoring our natural resources. It’s also tried to be an active part of the Palouse region, acting as a conduit for conservation, preservation and restoration of environmentally sensitive lands, natural areas and unique ecosystems.
The mission of PCEI is to increase citizen involvement in decisions that affect our region’s environment.
Our goals are:
PCEI offers a variety of quality educational programs to schools, community groups and adults. We focus on developing critical thinking skills and engaging participants in service projects that restore or enhance current watershed conditions. Our programs are highly interactive, place-based and promote hands-on exploration of the natural world. Programs are easily adaptable for all ages, dates and times are flexible and they are created to increase awareness and knowledge of issues important to Palouse watersheds and ecosystems.
For example, we have activities that are held at the PCEI Nature Center that include Summer Storytime Series for younger kids and Seasonal Wanderings Family Series, a monthly event that brings children and their parents to the PCEI Nature Center for an educational lesson.
PCEI has a small staff to generate these plans, but much of the good work performed in our region is completed by volunteers. PCEI believes that volunteering is one of the best ways to connect with the community, and it provides many volunteer opportunities.
PCEI is dedicated to educating and working with community members to make our corner of the world more sustainable. Our first 30 years have been amazing, and we are looking forward to the next 30 and are excited to see what successes are on the horizon. We believe through education, work and sustainable living, Idaho and our planet can not just survive, but thrive.