As spring surrenders to summer, so must we yield our state to its youngest residents, approximately 1.15 million children and teens who will soon take over our communities, yards, pools, beaches, and parks.

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One of my early memories is of exploring a campsite on Mount Rainier. I remember roaming around the spot on a cool June morning, exploring a paved road dusted with pine needles and peering into the wet shadows of the woods. Laced into my first hiking boots, I followed my parents along the Sunrise Nature trail, an easy 1.5 mile loop that took us through lush alpine meadows and gave us views of our state’s iconic mountain.

My fellow editor Larry Clark grew up on the opposite side of the state. But he has similar memories of exploring the woods around Newport with his dog Sport, fishing and rafting along the Pend Oreille River, and hunting for huckleberries, contending with stinging nettles and a mad badger.

Though we spent our childhoods on different sides of Washington, one of us in a city and the other in a rugged rural community, we’ve had similar experiences and feel similar attachments to this most amazing state. What a great place Washington is to grow up in!

“You sort of belong to a place and the place belongs to you,” says John Lupinacci of the College of Education. His expertise is in place-based learning, but he has expanded his inquiries to reflect on how Washington’s unique landscape fosters a deeper connection to the natural world.

In this issue we try to recapture the promise of a long summer ahead, new places to explore, and the wonder that is Washington. We do that through our University, at once a microcosm of the state with students and alumni from every corner, and a conduit to it with the extension of its research and education throughout. As the magazine’s new editors, we accept the challenge to tell the stories of our faculty members’ passion for their fields, the pride in their students. We also promise to follow our students and alumni on their adventures into the state, region, and world.

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Eric Sorensen introduces us to an alumnus historian and transports us back more than a century to tell the story of the man who built the first wagon road from Montana into Washington.

In his feature story, Larry Clark focuses in on several alumni entrepreneurs who are creating new tools—like a device to tie a microscope to an iPad—to help students see more deeply into the world in front of them. And with kids’ constant state of wonder in mind, our newest writer Nick Deshais brings Dr. Universe, our intrepid feline guide, back to WSU to continue her important work finding the answers to their intriguing questions.

After working in California, living in Washington, D.C. and Belgium, and finishing graduate school in Illinois, I was delighted to come back to Washington for a job in journalism. Larry’s path took him to New Mexico, Oregon, and Japan. But he, too, moved home to Washington, where he and his wife Jenni would start their family. “We’d been gone long enough to appreciate how amazing it is to live here,” he says. “This is where we wanted our children to grow up.”

Whether you’ve spent your life in Washington, or were settled here for your years at the University, you must share this feeling of belonging.

Hannelore Sudermann, content editor