Brings background in science, education
David LaFever is the new executive director of the Methow Valley Interpretive Center (MVIC) on the TwispWorks campus.
LaFever has served on the board of MVIC for several years, and most recently has been the organization’s education and outreach director. He said he will continue to foster connections with regional nonprofits, tribal organizations and descendants, and regional school districts to expand the educational reach of MVIC.
LaFever holds master’s degrees from Texas A&M in wildlife science and education. He has worked simultaneously in both fields for decades. LaFever taught at university and grade school levels and spent time in Morocco teaching environmental education while serving with the Peace Corps.
LaFever also worked as a forest ecologist with the Bureau of Land Management in California — managing personnel, annual budgets and department priorities. Currently, LaFever works as a senior biologist for a consulting firm and is an educator with the MVIC — this past year he worked with regional school districts to provide in-classroom presentations and field trips. LaFever believes his firm footing in both the science and education fields allows him to “translate education and knowledge to help people discover it for themselves.”
“My background helps with day-to-day operation of education and outreach between scientists, kids, tribal organizations and descendants, and our community. Understanding both science and education strengthens communication with a broad spectrum of people,” he said.
During this COVID downtime, all MVIC exhibits and their online presence were all improved. “This pandemic gave us the opportunity, space and time to do a big upgrade,” LaFever said, noting that the MVIC team accomplished in a few months what would normally take three to five years.
The interpretive center as an organization is fast approaching a 10-year anniversary milestone. “This slow-down gave us the motivation to think as an organization who we are, and where we are going in the next 10 years,” LaFever said.
What is next for MVIC? “We want to expand our physical space and our connections to the community and with tribal descendants,” LaFever said.
One exciting new MVIC scholarship program offers financial support to Native Americans to expand their own connections to the community. The scholarships may be used for a wide variety of pursuits, including enrolling in language courses, purchasing materials for learning traditional crafts, or seed money for entrepreneurial purposes. The scholarship program is driven by tribal descendants, and the selection committee is made up of descendants from regional tribes.
MVIC is still finding ways to support education in the 2020-21 school year — which differs dramatically from former years. “We hope to provide small group tours through the school system,” said LaFever, and when it is safe to do so, resume classroom visits and field trips.
Until then, MVIC will continue to produce educational videos and post links on its website for everyone to enjoy.
The newest physical exhibit at the center, “Seasons of the People,” pairs well with LaFever’s monthly Notes from the Center videos. The exhibit explores Methow people’s lives throughout each season, relative to the movement of star constellations that in the past provided guidance for seasonal food gathering, hunting, and fishing. It includes names of seasons and months in Nsəlxcin, the Northern Interior Salish language. August is the Time of Chokecherry. The “Notes from the Center — Time of the Chokecherry” notes, video, stories and recipes can be found online at http://www.methowvalleyinterpretivecenter.com.