About the Wild & Scenic Institute

Our Mission

Our mission is to provide environmental education and outdoor recreation to children who due to their physical, cultural, or financial barriers would not otherwise have this opportunity. Our programs develop physical and emotional confidence in these youth and instill the passion that will create a generation of advocates for preservation. Our population focus includes disabled (physically, emotionally and behaviorally) and immigrant children (English Language Learner students) as well as low income and “youth at risk.”

Seattle Parks and Recreation, Specialized Programs serve youth and adults with a range of disabilities. Wild & Scenic treats our participants with respect and patience. The kids have a ton of fun! We play bumper boats and jump into the icy river on hot summer days. Lunches are always prepared with love and are nutritious as well as plentiful. We eat on the river’s edge and stretch our legs out.

Another great part of rafting with Wild & Scenic is that we are able to learn about the natural environment. We learn about the five different types of salmon and helpful ways to identify them. We hear stories about beavers and the damage they have done to the trees, how old each bald eagle is estimated to be and what kinds of land erosion has occurred on the river. Kids and staff are able to learn a tremendous amount while having fun.

Wild & Scenic and their professional partners are very safe. They provide us with all the necessary supplies and have extras when something is forgotten. Their staff work hard to give us this opportunity to experience nature at no cost. The combination of education, fun and safety are just a few reasons why Wild & Scenic totally rocks. Thank you!”


The Institute is not a place, but an adventure. It was born and developed in the city of Tukwila in the year 2000 when executive director and founder, Hunter Hendrickson, began organizing free outdoor education trips for disabled, low-income and ELL (English language learner) students. As these kids traveled to the Skagit River to learn about spawning salmon and wintering bald eagles, it became apparent that they were learning even more about themselves. Children with cerebral palsy rowing a raft downstream were moving with a speed, agility, and freedom they had never known before. Recent refugees from Bosnia and Africa experienced for the first time our wilderness and instantly felt part of something larger. Without experiencing nature these children will never develop the passion to preserve it. And without engaging diverse groups of students in powerful learning we will never end social prejudice and racism. Being one of the most impoverished and ethnically diverse districts in Washington, it is vitally important that Tukwila and communities like it continue to embrace progressive education and inclusive social services.

The Wild and Scenic Institute has since grown slowly from its modest grassroots beginning and has now received it tax-exempt 501 (c) (3) status from the IRS. We are now offering 5 programs year round, in and around 3 rivers protected by the Wild and Scenic Act of 1968. With the shared vision that children are the future, the WSI continues to take children into the rivers and mountains of the North Cascades to develop the skills and instill the passion that will create a generation of advocates for preservation.