Pendleton Fabric Expertise – A Story of Generations

Pendleton textiles are renowned for their quality, beauty and craftsmanship. Where did we learn to make fabric like this? Our expertise is generational, earned over a century of weaving in America.

The Beginning

The company known today as Pendleton Woolen Mills actually had its genesis in one mill; the Thomas Kay Woolen Mill in Salem, Oregon, founded by Thomas Kay, a master weaver from England.

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Thomas Kay brought extensive knowledge to his own mill, after a career that started in his childhood as a bobbin boy, and grew into management of large mills in the UK and the US before he finally opened his own. He specialized in fabrics for tailoring, and produced the first bolt of worsted wool west of the Mississippi.

The Next Generation

His daughter, Fannie Kay, became her father’s protégé in her teen years. She learned weaving and mill management at her father’s side. Fannie Kay became Fannie Bishop upon her marriage to Charles P. Bishop, a prominent Salem merchant. Their three sons opened the Pendleton Woolen Mill in Pendleton, Oregon, in 1909. That mill is still running today! The Kay/Bishop history extends through today’s Pendleton. The Bishop family still owns and operates Pendleton Woolen Mills. And Pendleton’s fabric expertise grows each year, as we challenge ourselves to do more with wool.

Today’s Mills

Fabric weaving was once a major industry in the United States, with more than 800 mills in operation. Today only a handful of those mills remain.  Our facilities in Pendleton, Oregon, and Washougal, Washington, are two of the very few woolen mills still operating in North America.

Pendleton, Oregon

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The Pendleton, Oregon mill opened in 1909, taking over a defunct wool-scouring plant on the banks of the Columbia River and transforming it into a full mill under the direction of Clarence, Roy and Chauncey Bishop. The location had been scouted by Fannie Kay Bishop, who encouraged her sons to make use of the existing building, the nearby Columbia River, and the supply of high quality wool fleece available from local sheep ranchers.

The company’s original products were wool blankets for Native American customers. Today, the Pendleton mill is open for tours. Travelers can watch those world-famous blankets being woven on two-story looms.

Washougal, Washington

Our Washougal facility sits on the banks of the Columbia River at the entry to the scenic Columbia River Gorge. The Washougal community helped fund the startup of this mill in 1912, and it has been a major employer in this small Washington town ever since.

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The additional mill gave Pendleton the ability to weave a wider variety of fabrics.

AirLoom Merino (found in our Sir Pendleton shirts) and Umatilla woolen fabric (found in so many of our flannel shirt styles) are both woven in Washougal, as well as fabrics for the women’s line.

Its roots may be historic, but the Washougal mill is a 300,000-square-foot model of modern efficiency. Mill owners come from around the world to tour it, and to learn about Pendleton’s weaving techniques, dyeing processes, and fabric finishing.

The Fabrics

Pendleton Woolen Mills has maintained the quality and craftsmanship of its textiles through decade upon decade of manufacturing in its own facilities. This allows us to maintain quality control from start to finish, from fleece to fashion. Our state-of-the-art computer dyeing technology controls water, dyes, heat, and more. Carding machines, looms and finishing processes are also computer-controlled, allowing for minute adjustments to guarantee uniformity of weave, weight and hand.

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We can perfect it because we control it, and it shows in our fabrics. We will be exploring some of those special fabrics in the months to come. We hope you’ll follow along.

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New for Spring 2019 – Pagosa Springs Blanket

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Our newest blankets are arriving at the website, and you’re going to love them; Pagosa Springs is a beauty.

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Pagosa Springs is woven in turquoise and earth tones inspired by hot springs all over the world, like the Grand Prismatic Spring here in the USA.

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The reverse has a light ground, for completely different look. That can be one of the beautiful benefits of jacquard loom weaving.

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Pagosa Springs:

Long ago, the Southern Utes of Colorado told of a plague that medicine men could not cure. A council gathered on the riverbank and built a gigantic fire, danced and prayed for help, then fell into a deep sleep. When they woke, the fire was replaced by a pool of fragrant hot water. They bathed and were healed by the springs, naming it “Pah” (water) and “Gosa” (boiling). In the center of this design, blue hot springs rise through a medallion of fire to bring peace and health.

Pagosa Hot Springs is the world’s deepest geothermal hot spring.  Check it out here: Pagosa Hot Springs

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Spring is a beautiful time for Pendleton.

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Force Friday II : Two New Chapters in the Star Wars x Pendleton Blanket Saga

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Pendleton Woolen Mills is proud to announce two new blankets in our Star Wars x Pendleton blanket series, in honor of Episode VIII, The Last Jedi. Preorder Here: Star Wars Blankets.

The history

Forty years ago, “A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…” scrolled across a screen for the very first time.  In the decades since, generations of fans have visited the Star Wars universe through films, novels, graphic novels, amusement rides and more.

When LucasFilm became part of the Disney family, Pendleton Woolen Mills was there to welcome them, thanks to an association that stretches all the way back to opening day of Disneyland in 1955, when Walt Disney invited us to open a western mercantile in Frontierland.

Star Wars today

Pendleton celebrates the latest Star Wars’ release with designs that combine timeless Pendleton motifs with Star Wars characters who wield the power of the Force; for good and for evil. “Remember…the Force will be with you, always.”

The Blankets!

The Last Jedi

In Star Wars: The Last Jedi, a new chapter in the Star Wars saga unfolds. Flanked by the Millennium Falcon, Rey stands at the center, raising her lightsaber in a gesture of defiance against the First Order. The story of Star Wars: The Last Jedi unfolds in a Banded Stripe pattern that harkens back to the Golden Age of trade blankets.  This exclusive Pendleton design is available in a hand-numbered edition of 1,977 with a custom Star Wars label and Certificate of Authenticity.

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  • 64″ x 72″
  • Unnapped, felt bound
  • 82% pure virgin wool/18% cotton
  • Jacquard woven for a dramatic reverse option
  • Dry clean
  • Made in USA

The Last Jedi blanket arrives packaged in a box that will fit with your Ultimate Collector’s Set.

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A New Alliance

The perfect gift for your favorite young Padawan: a child-sized blanket featuring beloved character Chewbacca in an exclusive Pendleton design for Star Wars: The Last Jedi. A confused Chewbacca studies the porgs, not sure what to make of these curious and mimicking creatures.

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  • 32″ x 44″
  • Napped with whipstitch binding
  • 82% pure virgin wool/18% cotton
  • Jacquard woven for a dramatic reverse option
  • Dry clean
  • Made in USA

A New Alliance comes packaged in a special collector’s box.

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How to get them!

Pre-order these new blankets at www.pendleton-usa.com. And enjoy these two gentlemen enjoying the heck out of their new Star Wars Pendleton blankets!

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The perfect gift? A Pendleton blanket.

It’s that time of year again. You’ve got a niece graduating from college, a friend who’s getting married, a housewarming and a baby shower in the mix. You need the perfect gift.

Forget slogging through online registries or defaulting to gift cards again. Sure, we’re a little biased, but Pendleton blankets are the ultimate gift: their quality shows and you don’t have to worry about fit. And, they’ll last a lifetime. But don’t take our word for it. Here are our customers’ top gifts picks:

Glacier National Park Blanket: You can’t go wrong with classic stripes. This 100-year-old design is a long-time favorite one fan calls the “perfect gift.”

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Photo by Cassy Berry @cassyandrabee

 

Eco-Wise Blankets & Throws: Sustainably-made, machine washable wool. Perfect for college kids (twin fits extra-long dorm beds) or for anyone who loves quality but demands easy care. Starting at just $139 in 25+ colors and patterns.

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Photo by Pendleton Woolen Mills

Motor Robe with Carrier: This wool blanket is at home on the couch or the beach. Made for travel with a convenient leather carrier, it looks more expensive than it is (just $99.50!).

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Photo by Kathleen Peachey @kathleenpeachey

 

Chief Joseph Blanket: One of our all-time bestselling blankets and classic Pendleton. Choose from 12 colors and three sizes for a gift that’s just right.

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Photo by Pendleton Woolen Mills

5th Avenue Throw: “Bought as a gift, but I wanted to keep it!” says a customer from New York. No surprise: It’s made from the softest, most luxurious merino wool you’ve ever felt.

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Photo by Marina Chavez and Suzanne Santo, @soozanto of @honeyhoneyband

Yakima Camp Blanket: Pendleton quality starting at $99. Also available in Throw size. In versatile neutrals, so you won’t have to worry about matching their décor. “They were thrilled with the quality and craftsmanship,” says a shopper from California.

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Photo by Pendleton Woolen Mills

Need more gift ideas?

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Photo by Geneva, @cosmic.america

Check out our gifts under $50, gifts for kids or our best gifts ever. Monogramming starts at just $10 and makes it extra special!

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Native American Inspiration: The Peaceful Ones and Gift of the Earth

Two of our 2017 blankets are inspired by Hopi culture.

“Hopi” is a shortened form of Hopituh Shi-nu-mu, or, “The Peaceful Ones.” The Hopi reservation covers almost 2.5 million acres of northeastern Arizona, near the Four Corners area east of the Grand Canyon. The Hopi reservation is completely surrounded by the Navajo reservation. Its 14 villages sit on three rocky mesas; First Mesa, Second Mesa, and Third Mesa. The Hopis have lived here for over a thousand years. They follow a yearlong calendar of rituals and ceremonies, and carefully maintain their traditions.

The first blanket is our newest American Indian College Fund blankets, Gift of the Earth, which celebrates Hopi pottery.

Gift of the Earth

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The Hopi have a sacred relationship with the ancient caretaker of the earth, Masaw, and respect every gift given to them. The clay they and their ancestors have sourced from the land for centuries is treated with the utmost regard. Because of this, the Hopi people maintain a beautiful and unique pottery tradition on the mesas in Arizona. Craftsmanship and creativity drawn from generations of knowledge flow through the potters today as they work. This blanket draws on the design elements from these brilliant pieces as a testament to learning from the past while moving into the future.

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(source – photo by Holly Chervnsik)

Interesting facts about Hopi pottery:

  • The golden hues of early Hopi pottery might have sparked the tales of fantastic wealth that lured early Spaniards to the Seven Cities of Cibola.
  • Smooth, symmetrical vessels might appear to be wheel-thrown, but are formed by hand through “coil and scrape.”
  • The most common shapes are shallow bowls and flat-shouldered jars.
  • Paints are made from natural materials, such as tansy mustard and beeweed.
  • Hopi pottery is open-fired with sheep dung and cedar.
  • Today, most pottery is made on First Mesa.

Like all our College Fund blankets, sales of Gift of the Earth help support scholarships to Native American Scholars. Learn more here: The College Fund

Our second Hopi-inspired blanket for 2017 is The Peaceful Ones.

The Peaceful Ones

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They call themselves Hopi, a shortened version of their true name: Hopituh Shi-nu-mu, the Peaceful Ones. Members of this Southwest nation follow the Hopi Way, based on the instructions of Maasaw, the Creator and Caretaker of Earth. The Peaceful Ones strive to be mannered, polite, and peaceable in all interactions. Their path will eventually lead to a state of complete reverence for all things. This design is based on an embroidered Manta, the garment worn by Hopi women in ceremonies that follow the lunar calendar. Through their traditional ceremonies, the Peaceful Ones hope to bring tranquility and harmony to the entire world.

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Interesting facts about the manta:

  • The manta is a rectangular cloth, fastened at the right shoulder and held by a sash.
  • Mantas were originally woven of undyed cotton. Over time, dyed threads and geometric patterns added beauty to the garment’s simple shape.
  • The practice of wearing blouses or shift dresses under mantas came much later, under pressure from missionaries.
  • Once the everyday wear of Navajo, Pueblo and Hopi women, the manta is now worn during important ceremonies.

We are excited to be sharing these blankets soon at  www.pendleton-usa.com.

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National Parks Memories: Babies

We are closing out this fantastic year of celebration with some more national Park memories. These two memories come from Pendleton employees.

Erin is one of our designers. She has this to say about this photo:

Although I don’t remember this, it is a popular story at family get gatherings. This is a picture of me at the Grand Canyon with my mother (Nancy) and aunt (JoAnn). I am recovering from a massive tantrum because my mother would not release me from her toddler hiking backpack. I really wanted to cross the guard rail to get a better look at the Grand Canyon! Obviously my request was not met and I went into a hysterical crying tantrum.

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And, for our last post of the year, here’s a classic shot given to us by Robin, who is head of our bricks-and-mortar stores division:

Timberline Lodge on Mount Hood:  The year was 1957, I was 4.5 years old.  I was visiting my West coast grandparents from New York with my New York City grandmother, Rose Raskin in the Pendleton 49’er jacket, my mother, Mary Bonetta,  and little sister Hillary, age 2. I recall only the gift shop, where I was to receive a totem pole.  Who knew then I would work for Pendleton 45+ years later.  Wish I had that 49’er jacket!

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Two wonderful memories, two fabulous photos and two babies for the New Year.

Happy New Year from Pendleton Woolen Mills!

 

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Badlands National Park, our Last #pendle10park for 2016

IMG_6726It’s been an incredible year for Pendleton and our parks, as we help celebrate the centennial of the National Park Service. Our #pendle10park explorers have taken you from California to Maine. We are going to finish out the year with Badlands National Park.

South Dakota’s Badlands were authorized as a National Monument in 1929, officially established in 1939 and designated as a National Park on November 10, 1978. Badlands National Park is home to haunting natural beauty and some of the richest fossil beds in North America.

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The name “Badlands” comes from the Lakota, who moved into the western plains during the late 18th century. They called the area Mako Sica, which translates as “eroded land” or “bad land.” As they traveled and hunted, the Lakota found the White River Badlands fossil beds and correctly surmised that the area had been underwater. They believed the skeletons belonged to a great sea beast called Unktegila. The ghost dances of the Lakota, led by the visionary Wovoka, were held in the remote tablelands of the Badlands.

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History echoes in the spires and peaks of the eroded rock formations, across the prairies, and in the secluded valleys where Native American tribes have been hunting and living for 11,000 years.

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Settlers and homesteaders arrived in the 20th century, but struggled to find a foothold in such arid conditions. The Dust Bowl wiped out most of the area’s farming, and plagues of grasshoppers took care of the rest. Abandoned sod houses dotted the area until the wind and weather took them down. Today, the area supports wheat farming.

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Badlands National Park is a designated wilderness preserve. Here, you can experience the largest protected mixed-grasses prairie in the US. You can see mule deer, antelope, bighorn sheep and coyotes. Look a little closer to the ground, and you will see black-tailed prairie dogs. You might even catch a glimpse of the black-footed ferret, the most endangered land mammal in North America. And of course, you’ll see the American Land Bison, or buffalo.

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The Badlands are an “avian crossroad,” a habitat for both eastern and western birds. The cliffs make excellent hunting grounds for golden eagles and prairie falcons. Cliff swallows and rock pigeons nest in the countless hollows. It is a birder’s paradise, but explore this park with caution; the country is hard to travel, with sharp rocks, yielding substrate, and very little water.

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Sunset here is particularly beautiful. Enjoy it among the formations, as the setting sun catches the pinnacles, casting dramatic shadows.

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Or settle onto the prairie, and enjoy the sounds of South Dakota; the wind in the grass and the evening birdsong.

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Photography by Emmanuel Beltran: @stick_e

Shop Pendleton Badlands National Park: SHOP

A Special Blanket Supports Native Women’s Health

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, and we thought that would be a terrific time to tell you about a special version of our Chief Joseph blanket.

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A purchase of this beautiful cherry-pink blanket benefits the women’s health program of NARA, the Native American Rehabilitation Association of the Northwest, INC.  NARA is a Native American-owned, Native American-operated, nonprofit agency.

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NARA is an Urban Indian Health Program that provides integrated healthcare in the Portland Metropolitan area.  They offer a broad array of services including medical, dental, mental health, addiction treatment, and culturally based services.  Culture is a critical and integral part of everything they do.

We had a conversation with Yolanda Moisa, most current director of the newest clinic run by NARA and the BCCP Director (Breast and Cervical Cancer Program), to learn about NARA’s women’s health program.

PWM: Can you tell me about your organization’s mission?

YM: Our mission at NARA is to provide education, physical and mental health services and substance abuse treatment that is culturally appropriate to American Indians, Alaska Natives and anyone in need. Our purpose is to achieve the highest level of physical, mental and spiritual well being for American Indians and Alaska Native people.

Our women’s health program is a critical part of our larger physical health outreach.  It’s the women who make this program so rewarding.  Throughout the 20 years of this program, we have helped women from all backgrounds. Each person is unique and has a story to tell. We save lives daily.  Our hope and goal is prevention and no cases of cancer ever, however, the reality is that catching cancer sooner than later makes for a much better prognosis.

PWM: Can you tell us about some of your more rewarding moments?

YM: There are so many stories of success and how we help women, we are helping generations of women.  A story that comes to mind is that we had a woman who had just moved to the Portland area and came in for another visit and our staff noticed she was due for her yearly women’s exams.  When she received her results from her mammogram a small lump in her breast was detected. She did find out that it was cancerous, it was caught at Stage 1.  We walked her through her options and our team was there to answer all her questions.  Just having someone listen to her and help manage the many appointments that come with cancer treatment was a comfort.  More importantly, she brought her daughter in and sisters in to be tested, again changing lives.

PWM: When did NARA form and how many people have you served?

NARA has been in the community since 1970, and offering medical care since 1993. Since 1996 we have helped Women receive 5,160 MAMS and 6,391 PAPS.  We have two clinics, one at North Morris Street and our new Wellness Center on East Burnside. The women’s health program is housed in our clinic at 12360 E Burnside, Portland, OR 97233. The program offers women’s services at both clinics where screenings, and references for mammograms to low income, uninsured Native women. We want to provide early detection for breast and cervical cancer. As an urban facility, we’ve been able to serve members from over 250 tribes, nations, bands, who are all able to access any of the services here.

PWM: That’s fantastic. What drew you to this program, Yolanda?

YM: I came to NARA after many years in the corporate legal field. I’m a member of the Tule River Tribe in Porterville CA, and it was always my intention to return to working with Native Americans–to give back. Throughout my career I have volunteered and advocated for women and children.  Coming to NARA was like finding a family that truly “got it”, understanding what it means to help our community.  I see my family in the many faces in our waiting rooms: my grandmother, aunties, uncles, mother and siblings. I came in as a grants manager and was here for almost two years. I became clinic director  two years ago, and was pleased when we received a HRSA grant that helped set up the pharmacy and pediatric program at the site. I’ve been here close to five years and have continued to appreciate all that NARA does. It’s pretty amazing!

PWM: Are there special challenges within the Native American community?

YM: For Native women, there is a history of trauma around medical services. Along with assault, abuse and harassment, there is a documented history of forced sterilization. This painful history plays into fear and mistrust of medicine.

Our CDC (Center for Disease and Control)  grant  allows us to do something special for Native American and Alaska Native women—weekend clinic sessions that we call the Well Women’s Event. These events are designed as a safe place for women.  It’s not uncommon to have generations of women from families come together. The grandmother, mother and daughter will all come for the daughter’s first mammogram for support.  We open the clinic to women only. Our guests are welcomed to a Native crafts night, and a women-only talking circle. The nurse on staff gives one-on-one advice and education.  We offer cervical cancer screens here, and transport woman safely to and from an off-site mammogram facility.

Any woman who gets a screening receives culturally specific books about women’s health, including  “Journey Woman: A Native Woman’s Guide to Wellness”. Through the generosity of Pendleton we were allowed to use  Pendleton art forms in the books.

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When women see themselves in health materials, it builds trust and adds warmth to what can be a very cold environment. Some women come just for the community events, and that’s fine. Our goal is to make women’s healthcare safe and communal, almost a celebration of womanhood.

PWM: How does the Pendleton blanket help?

YM: Each purchase of the blanket generates a donation to NARA. The money will go into the women’s health program, helping us expand our outreach to various underserved and marginalized communities within Portland.  We hope to start momentum that leads to continuing healthcare. If we can save one life, we’re proud.  Hopefully with these added donations we will continue to help many more women.  Thank you Pendleton!

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If you would like to help NARA through direct donation, feel free to contact Yolanda Moisa at ymoisa@naranorthwest.org or 503-224-1044.

If you would like to help through the purchase of the special edition Chief Joseph blanket, see it HERE: Chief Joseph.

Volunteer Profile: Trevor Nichols, Teacher-in-Residence for Rocky Mountain National Park

rolston_5y7a0416Trevor Nichols is a science teacher at Abraham Lincoln High School in southwest Denver. He’s in his fifth year of teaching AP Environmental science, Earth System science, and Earth Science for English Language Acquisition students.

Trevor comes to teaching with a degree in wildlife biology. He wasn’t intending to teach until he was inspired by a lecture given by Dr. Paul Angermeier, a professor at Virginia Tech. Dr. Angermeier’s message was strong: if you want to make a difference in conservation efficacy, go into education and teach young students about the natural world.

Trevor took this message to heart.  He teaches at a high school with a broad student demographic, in a neighborhood where some students rarely venture outside an eight-block radius of the school. The Rockies are right next door, but it’s not uncommon for a student to graduate without ever having made a visit. Trevor hopes that science education can help to repair the ongoing disconnect between youth and the natural world.

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That’s why, every summer for the last four years, Trevor had finished up his school year in early June, and moved up to Rocky Mountain National Park to take up his post as Teacher-in-Residence. Working with the incredible educational program in place at the park, he designs and implements lessons for student groups that range from kindergarten to community college.

The educational program at the park gets high marks from Trevor. “They’re aligned with quality standards up there that cross into the classroom and support teachers with their work. I can’t say enough about the resources and quality of the experience. Some programs for upper level use actual field methods—giving the kids a real experience of what a natural resource manager may do for the Park Service.” Field experiences provide exposure to correct scientific methods and possible careers.  Most importantly, it connects kids to the wonders of Rocky Mountain National Park.

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Says Lindsey Lewis, Trevor’s volunteer coordinator:

I can’t think of someone with a better rapport with their own students and coworkers than Trevor.  He arrives each summer having given his all to teaching all school year and sees his time at Rocky as a way to continue to contribute but also as a time to relax and recharge.  Of course, his idea of relax and recharge might be a bit different than most folk’s idea.  As he spends his free time during the summer hiking, summiting Rocky’s high peaks, and backpacking on longer weekends.

He spends his time in the office providing feedback on curriculum development and correlating programs to education standards as well as advising new interns and education instructors in techniques and educational theory.  He also assists with training as he knows more Latin than most regular park rangers.  He loves to identify flowers and even grasses by their Latin names.  When he finds one he doesn’t know or can’t remember he’s immediately looking it up and sharing it with others. 

During field programs he is quick to create a rapport with his students of the day.  Being a former hockey player who stands well over 6 feet tall, his presence is not easily missed but his calm and patient demeanor allow him to work with students of all ages.  He has a way of making learning fun and taking the fear out of the unknown for students.  He easily laughs at his own mistakes and is quick to help others handle their own challenges in the same way – with an easygoing and positive attitude.

Trevor, thank you so much for your efforts and outreach on behalf of Rocky Mountain National Park.

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Photos of Trevor Nichols courtesy Trevor Nichols, used with permissions.

Rocky Mountain photography by Pendleton brand ambassador Kate Rolston. See more of her work HERE.

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