Craig and Joy Johnson

Craig and Joy Johnson

Jan Holmes Island County Coastal Volunteer of the Year

It’s all about teamwork – and Craig and Joy Johnson work as a team! 

Craig is a multitalented watercolor/oil/graphic artist and photographer and Joy is an educator and writer, combining their talents and skills in ways that are engaging and informative for audiences of all descriptions.  

The Jan Holmes Island County Volunteer of the Year Award was announced on Saturday to 600+ attendees, at the annual Sound Waters University, held at South Whidbey High School. The Johnsons were in attendance to accept the Award amidst a very enthusiastic and cheering audience!

The Johnsons speak of the complexities of Puget Sound’s ecosystems, migrations, weather and habitats through the lens of the region’s birdlife and wildlife, and relate their information to mindful human care of terrestrial, shoreline, fresh and marine water habits. They have co-authored many books, brochures, produced DVDs, maintain websites and blogs, created and donated interpretive signage at Swan Lake, Greenbank Farm and other sites, plus offered free educational video content on their website, such as “Puget Sound Area Seabird ID”, “Avoiding Window Strikes” and more. The Johnsons provide all their educational brochures, books and videos free to schools or organizations with educational outreach programs.

Craig and Joy have donated innumerable hours of their valuable artistic and writing skills in support of many Island County organizations including Whidbey Audubon Society, the Whidbey Camano Land Trust, Friends of South Whidbey State Park, Swan Lake Watershed Preservation Group, Pacific Rim Institute, WSU Extension and Sound Water Stewards.

The Johnsons donate their support as health allows, as a labor of love for birds and wildlife.  Their focus is on education and inspiration – promoting healthy waters and habitat amongst school children and adults, with many responses from people saying they are going to develop their land with more sensitivity to nature afterward, understanding Craig’s mantra that “all things are connected”. 

In Dan Pedersen’s words – “I have never met anyone with their drive to make such a difference. Within a moment of meeting the Johnsons, they realize these people are “the real deal”. They walk the talk!”

Since Craig became disabled by a degenerative neurological disease years ago, he has spent many sleepless nights dreaming up ways to express his passion for birds and wildlife, hoping to inspire others to preserve habitat, whether it be through a wildlife reserve or in their own backyards. With Joy by his side, he continues to push through some very difficult physical challenges, using limited energy to convey the marvels of Creation.

The Johnsons join eight others who have also earned the annual coastal volunteer honor – Barbara Brock, Sammye Kempbell, Phyllis Kind, Jill Hein, Ken Urstad, Bob Gentz, Connie Clark and Sandy Dubpernell.