By Joanna Bastian
Austin Yancey and Isaac Wall recently completed their native plants senior project at the Methow Monument located in Pateros Memorial Park. The 2017 graduates of Pateros High School chose to research culturally significant plants and complete the landscape at the Methow Monument with native trees, bushes, grasses, and ground cover.
“We enjoy being outdoors, and are interested in the plants that we see while we are out hiking,” Austin explained. The Pateros senior is looking into the forestry program offered at Wenatchee Valley College (WVC).
For his senior project, Austin checked in at Pateros City Hall to view a list of senior project ideas. He talked with Jord Wilson, Pateros public works superintendent, who had begun work on the layout for the Methow Monument. Knowing Austin’s interest in the outdoors, Jord suggested that he research native plants and create the planting map for the new educational park.
Isaac started out the school year as a junior. Enrolled in Running Start and taking agricultural classes at WVC in addition to classes at Pateros High School, Isaac soon realized that he was on track to graduate a year early if he completed a senior project. Austin and Isaac decided to work together to complete the native plant project at the Methow Monument, as it fell in line with both their academic and career goals.
Isaac’s WVC professor, Bob Gillispie, suggested that the students reach out to Rob Crandall, of Methow Natives nursery in Winthrop to learn more about native plants and their cultural significance. At the same time, unbeknownst to Austin and Isaac, Rob had contacted Crystal Miller — member of the design team for the Methow Monument — to offer a donation of native plants.
Rob provided Austin and Isaac with a list of native plants to research and planting instructions. Throughout the winter, the two students researched the cultural significance of the plants and created a plant map for the layout.
“It was amazing to find out that plants have a use and were significant to the native people,” Isaac said, “and to recognize the plants from our time outdoors.” The two friends began to list native plants and their uses. For instance, yarrow can be used to disinfect, stop bleeding, and relieve pain. Pine needles make a nice tea.
To create a plant map, the two met with Jord, who has a master’s degree in landscape architecture, to learn how to make a plant map that features the topography of the landscape and visual framing for each plant. Spots were chosen to feature native plants such as chokecherry, mock orange, kinnikinnick, blue-bunch wheatgrass, and more.
On Arbor Day, Austin and Isaac met with Rob to pick up the plants from the Methow Natives nursery in Winthrop. “We were able to get them right in the ground, no waiting,” Austin said. “It was hard to find spots for all of them.” The students had planned on forty plants — Rob donated over a hundred.
The two men hope the Methow Monument will “draw more people into town,” and help people, “learn more about native plants,” Isaac said. “In the outdoors, when you’re camping, in an emergency, it’s good to have the knowledge.” As students who experienced the Carlton Complex fires, they hope that people will see the native plants at the monument and recognize the same plants taking root and restoring the surrounding landscape.