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Mount St. Helens Institute offering free programs online

What does Mount St. Helens mean to us?

We’ll be able to consider that question over the next three Mondays, as the Mount St. Helens Institute offers free educational and cultural programs about the volcano and the 40th anniversary — the “eruptiversary” — of its May 1980 eruption.

It’s a continuation of the Institute’s long-running Volcano Views and Brews series, which has usually involved quaffing beers in a downtown Vancouver pub while listening to scientists discuss the volcano and related topics in person.

Now, thanks to the eruption of novel coronavirus, the series has moved online and has been renamed Virtual Volcano Views and Brews. The Institute will keep supplying the programming; the beer is up to you.

Talks are set for 6 p.m. Monday nights. All you have to do to watch is open the Mount St. Helens Institute Facebook page; you don’t even need your own Facebook account.

The series begins April 27 with a program about the life and legacy of volcanologist David Johnston. He’s the man whose famous last words, radioed from the blast zone, were an alert to his fellow scientists here in town: “Vancouver! Vancouver! This is it!”

Discussing Johnston’s remarkable life and death will be Melanie Holmes, author of a 2019 book about Johnston called “A Hero on Mount St. Helens,” and retired science journalist Jeff Renuer, who covered the 1980 eruption for KING-TV in Seattle.

On May 4, author Eric Wagner will discuss the resilience of nature and his new book, “After the Blast: The Ecological Recovery of Mount St. Helens.”

The May 11 program takes entirely different views of the eruption — the human, historical and cultural angles. It’s called “What Does Mount St. Helens Mean To You?” The presenters are poet and memoirist Christine Colasurdo, U.S. Forest Service archaeologist Rick McClure and Cowlitz Indian Tribe spiritual leader Tanna Engdahl.

Teachers should be aware that the Mount St. Helens Institute posts new educational activities and videos for older elementary and middle school students at 11 a.m. every Tuesday on its website,


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