By Joslyn Rose Trivett, SPP Network Manager. Originally written for and published by SPP. 

November4th, 2013, I had the pleasure of attending the first Roots of Success graduation ceremony at Cedar Creek Corrections Center (CCCC). Roots of Success is an environmental literacy curriculum recommended to us by Ohio corrections, and this year we are piloting the program at four corrections facilities: Correctional Industries, Stafford Creek Corrections Center, Washington State Penitentiary, and CCCC. Correctional Industries (CI) has funded and led program implementation. Special thanks to them, especially to Lucienne Banning and Michael Colwell of CI, for making the program possible.

The ceremony took place in the visiting room, still abundantly decorated for Halloween. The ceremony began with Superintendent Douglas Cole asking the class what they had learned in Roots of Success. The inmates detailed their new knowledge, and also spoke of the general importance of environmental literacy. One said, “This class has taught me the language of right now.” Another felt similarly lucky; he smiled as he said, “I feel like I’m buying Microsoft stock in 1982.”

Two Roots graduates read a speech by Chief Seattle to the class. Photo by Joslyn Rose Trivett.

Two inmates from western Washington native tribes read a speech from Chief Seattle, and the reading was received with reverence and appreciation. One of the presenters said that he considered earlier technologies of this culture to be the “messier kind;” newer technologies, such as they had learned about in Roots of Success, are providing a way to connect back to nature.

A Roots graduate receives his congratulations from Superintendent Cole. Photo by Joslyn Rose Trivett.

One of the Roots graduates reads his graduation certificate. Photo by Joslyn Rose Trivett.

The inmate students received their certificates to applause. We also acknowledged the two inmate instructors, and the SPP Graduate Research Assistant who has worked on Roots, Rachel Stendahl.

Guest speaker Aimee Christie from the Pacific Shellfish Institute describing CCCC’s participation in a water quality improvement program in southern Puget Sound. Photo by Joslyn Rose Trivett.

Finally, a guest speaker, Aimee Christie from the Pacific Shellfish Institute, described how mussels are being used for nitrogen sequestration in southern Puget Sound. CCCC recently accepted about 2000 lbs of harvested mussels from the Institute and will process them in the prison’s new composting system.

Roots of Success 2013 graduating class at CCCC. The women on the left are both Roots instructors: Rita Reynoldson, a corrections staff member, and Lucienne Banning, Offender Workforce Development Specialist for CI. The woman on the right is Rachel Stendahl, the SPP Graduate Research Assistant who has coordinated Roots for Washington Department of Corrections. Photo by CI staff.

I missed the cake and ice cream, and still I can say it was a wonderful event! I look forward to many more Roots graduations to come.