MrS Canada Hiking Trip

John Schmied

Historical footnotes 

As a parent, I was always interested in learning a bit about the teacher who would spend the next year with my student. So in the spirit of sharing, I'm posting a bit of my background and interests so you learn more about the guy that is teaching your student!

I was raised in the Wisconsin - Illinois area. My earliest science recollections are of bringing home (to my mother's spic and span kitchen) hundreds of newly hatched tadpoles in a rusty old tin can whilst balanced precariously on my first two wheeler in Watertown, Wisconsin. Ant farms, butterfly hatching, spiders, snakes, bats, birds, magnets, electricity, spectrums, and tropical fish followed in quick succession. I've always been entralled with the natural world.

When I was 19 I left college to go to sea and see the world. That I did! I served in many different ships and shore stations while serving in the United States Coast Guard for 21 years. During my tours I was primarily involved in Search and Rescue, Salvage Diving, Maritime Law Enforcement, Marine Science and Oceanography. Anyone who has been in the service for a long time has seen and done lots of things. I'm no exception. I've been involved in many rescues, salvage operations, and science operations, all around the world; from wintering over in the Arctic ice pack to diving in Antarctic's infamous Weddell Sea.

A couple of the highlights I can remember: Once I was trying to fix a broken propeller (underwater) on a Coast Guard icebreaker in Antarctica while a pod of hungry Killer Whales tried to decide whether my buddy and I were seals! I also recall nearly being cut in half one night. This occurred when a faulty deep sea oceanographic cable, under enormous tension, snapped in two and came whipsawing toward me in the night. Good reflexes saved the day! (Unfortunately we lost two miles of cable and hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of equipment attached to the cable!). Then there was the time I spent the entire winter in the Arctic ice pack... well, there's not enough space here for telling sea stories...

I've been teaching all my life in real world situations. When I retired from the Coast Guard it seemed natural to continue teaching. So I began teaching in public schools in 1994. Since then I've worked with all ages of secondary students, about 3000 to date. I've also spent a lot of my life working and studying the environment. Along the way I received three degrees: a BA in Biology and also in Natural Science, a BS in Environmental Zoology, and a Master's in Science Teaching. All of my degrees are from the University of Washington. Go Huskies!

I've been blessed to be recognized for the work I've accomplished developing and launching environmental programs and projects. Eastside Audubon honored me as Environmentalist of the Year in 2007. Also in 2007, I was honored to be a King County Earth Hero. As a member of the acclaimed Friends of the Hidden River, I was a 2009 co-recipient of King County's prestigeous Green Globe award for Execllence in Environmental Education. In 2011 I was honored to receive the R.C. Bartlett Award from the National Environmental Education Foundation in Washington DC. I was named a Paul Harris Fellow for exceptional community service by the Woodinville Rotary in 2012 . [I can't say enough thanks to these folks for supporting the work we all do to expand environmental projects, programs and awareness in our community.] In 2013 I was recognized by E3 Washington as their 2013 Green Apple Award for Excellence in Education award (for grades 6-8).

Last year Jon Bahr and I received a $53K Innogrant to integrate iPads into our Science Classroom. This year we intend to continue this work.

I also work as a consultant. My main work areas of emphasis are strategic planning, science education, energy and the environment.

My wife, Marie, is a very distinguished educator who teaches elementary age students in Lake Washington School District. She has won numerous awards for her work in the environment, science and reading over the years and was one of the key folks responsible for the Brightwater Center being created. She is also one the the key developers and staff members of the GTS STEM Environmental Challenge programs there.

Together Marie and I have five incredible daughters and another young lady we sponsor. Three were Varsity college swimmers and all did remarkably well with their academics in school. All five girls have graduated college and gone on to further endeavors. One's a doctor, (OB/GYN), one is a Nat'l Board certified School Counselor, one is presently searching for a new opportunity, another is a Behavioral Scientist for the Naval Health Reasearch Center. Our youngest daughter is in her second year at A.T. Still Doctor of Osteopathy medical school. Our youngest family member is a Junior studying Civil-Environmental Engineering at WSU. She's in the Honors program, and is a member of the Cougar's Varsity Crew team.

Environmental Initiatives

In May 2005, science teachers Mike Reid, Tom Nowak and I began developting an Outdoor Environmental Learning Center on 6.5 acres of school property behind Skyview as a Green Team project. The project is now in full swing and we hold regular classes in the Center during the school year on sustainability and the natural environment. As of August 2015 our students, parents, community members, and science teachers have put in over 16500 community service hours to develop the area, plant 2000 native plants. We also created a filtering wetland area across the front of the Center and built a new wetland trail in 2012-4.

In 2007 my classes "Green Teams" did their first community Environmental Action Project. The students successfully convinced the McLendon's Hardware people to recycle Flourescent lights, which contain mercury, as part of the King County Take It Back Network. Since these products are hazardous material, they can't be disposed of in our regular waste stream. All 6 McLendon's are now on the Network. This one action expanded the Take It Back List by over 33%! Other stores have followed McLendon's lead. Who says kids can't make a difference? You just have to believe!

Since then the Skyview Green Team and staff have embedded environmental action in all phases of school life, from schoolwide recycling project & composting waste, to energy awareness and transportation issues, we continue to bring forward issues of global sustainability to our young citizens. Our most exciting new program is the new Naturalist in Training program, which we piloted in fall 2011.

Skyview's Green Team got big results. Skyview is now a King County Level 3 Green Team, and our staff has been awarded multiple King County Earth Hero Awards. In 2012, the National Wildlife Federation awarded Skyview the prestigious NWF Green Flag Award. Skyview is the first school west of the Mississippi River to ever be awarded an NWF Green Flag, an honor we hope to keep throughout the years!

Brightwater Center - In 2002, a group of 6 environmental educators, including my wife and I, decided to make a difference for the environment of our own community. We created the Friends of the Hidden River, a 501(c)(3) non profit organization to began a 10 year effort to create an Environmental Education Center and 72 acre Environmental Park at the Brightwater wastewater treatment plant site.

Our team secured approval from King County for our proposal as an environmental mitigation. Since then, we helped raised over $10.3M to fund, design and construct the project. Friends singlehandedly raised over 1.25M in this effort.

Brightwater Environmental Center is our gift back to the community. Many local, regional and national organizations helped us in our quest, especially the folks from King County. Along the way Norcliffe Foundation granted $225K for the buildout of the labs, Snohomish PUD and Bonneville Environmental Foundation granted Friends $48K for Washington made solar panels for the Center and Woodinville Rotary granted us funding to pursue further grants to support the project and help develop the GTS STEM Enviromental Challenge series curriculum.

The Center & 72 acre park had its Grand Opening on Sept 24th 2011 to an overflow crowd of over 3000 local citizens. Since then, our Friends team has shifted our efforts to developing innovative environmental curriculum.

Since 2011 I lead a team from the Friends of the Hidden River in creating an innovative summer camp. It is called the "Ground to Sound STEM Environmental Challenge Summer Camp" and has just finished its 4th, and largest, year .

Talented local students apply to be campers, mentors and interns for this exciting program. Campers hone their STEM skills by using teamwork, arts, science and technology, (iPads, Vernier LabQuest 2's, etc) to complete a series of environmental challenges during the Camp. We just finished our fourth (and our largest) camp and it was a smashing success!

Select an image to discover more about the Friends and Brightwater Center.

Friends of the hidden river Brightwater Center
To Friends of the Hidden River To Brightwater Center

Project Page


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