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Volunteer Training

Sign Up For Our Newsltter

To find out when we begin accepting applications for membership and Annual Training each year.

IF you are already a member OR in the Class of 2022, login to the 2022 Curriculum webpage.


Training Amazing Volunteers

Sound Water Stewards are trained volunteers working in and around Island County for a healthy, sustainable marine environment through educationscience, and stewardship.

A 100-hour annual training is required to become a Sound Water Steward. Training classes with presentations via Zoom by experts in their fields are held on Thursdays during the daytime for 14 weeks (spring session in March, April and May, and fall session in September and October).

Classes are augmented with field trips, curriculum reading material, participation, feedback, and other requirements. Field trips and onsite experience help build each new Steward’s knowledge of local beaches, bluffs, estuaries, watersheds, restoration sites, and marine flora and fauna. Training is offered once each year and class size is limited.

Programming follows Island County Department of Health and State of Washington COVID safety guidelines, including social distancing, sanitizing, and masks. Additionally, SWS Board of Directors regularly reviews the COVID situation and updates our guidance for members. As of October, SWS requires masks indoors and outdoors.

To learn more, watch a recording of the Town Hall held Thursday, Feb 10, 2022 via Zoom.

Membership Fee to Join

The 2022 fee is $300 per person to cover the cost of the training program. We do not want the fee to be a barrier to membership. Full and partial scholarships are available. And you have the option of a budget-friendly payment plan (half in spring, half in fall).

For training, you will need a computer with microphone and camera, or a tablet. (Attempting Zoom classes on a cell phone for several hours is not a useful substitute for a larger screen and keyboard.)

For your $300 fee, you receive 100 hours of training (14 weeks with approximately 2 presentations per week), the opportunity to participate in a wide variety of field trips throughout the training period, a copy of the 2020 edition of Getting to the Water’s Edge guide book, the laminated EZ-ID guide to marine life, sea weeds and sea grasses, and after you finish the class you receive an official SWS name tag.

In return for this unique educational opportunity, all new Sound Water Stewards agree to commit to 100 hours of volunteer time supporting SWS programs, activities or committees (50 hours a year for two consecutive years, or faster). 

There are many ways to fulfill the time commitment and the hours add up quickly. It is fun, it is easy, and we can help you tailor your service to your talents, interests, and comfort level. Some volunteers participate in intertidal monitoring of beaches. Others help lead public education or entertaining activities at State Parks or troll the shorelines for trash or noxious weeds.

2022 Training Plan: 100 Hours

Requirements for 2022 include:

  1. Attend Zoom classes with (live) college-level expert presenters. Classes are Thursdays, 9 am to 12:30 pm for 14 weeks (8 weeks in spring, 6 weeks in fall).
    2022 Dates are
    Spring: March 24, 31, April 7, 14, 21, 28, May 5, 12 (total of 8) and
    Fall: Sept 15, 22, 29, Oct 6, 13, 20 (total of 6)

  2. Attend at least 6 field trips selected from among the 30+ offered.
  3. Prepare for classes by reviewing recommended online content.
  4. Complete a feedback form for each class.
  5. Use Zoom, Slack and Email for intraclass communication.
  6. Participate in at least 1Intertidal Monitoring” on Whidbey or Camano.
  7. Attend at least 1 SWS monthly member meeting.
  8. Volunteer at least 7 hours with one or more of SWS science, education, or stewardship activities or committees.
  9. Track your training time on a 2022 Training Timesheet provided by SWS. Log your future volunteer hours in the SWS online database, VolunteerMatters.

Accommodations are made for anyone who is not able or not comfortable with on-the-beach or in-person field work.

If you are invited to join the Class of 2022, you will be asked to:

  • Pay the Membership Fee (Training Fee) or request a scholarship.
  • Authorize SWS to do a criminal background record check via Intellicorp. (We will send you a personal email link.)
  • Set up your login to Volunteer Matters for logging volunteer hours. (You must wait for an invitation before you can join Volunteer Matters)
  • Sign a participant waiver.
  • Adhere to SWS Covid Policy and Beach Safety Checklist. Follow defined protocols when collecting data or conducting monitoring surveys.
  • Attain the necessary level of knowledge, including any required project-specific training.
  • Educate, not advocate, when representing SWS in the wider community. What does this mean? It means that SWS seeks to educate and inform the public and our members about the challenges facing the environment, but does not take a position (for or against) public policies under consideration at the local, state or federal level, on the ballot, or otherwise.
  • Give Back at least 100 hours over the next two years by volunteering with SWS.

Download or view a PDF of these requirements.

Applying does not guarantee a space in SWS 2022 Training Program. Space is limited. Apply early for the best chance to be included. Each applicant will be interviewed before being invited into SWS Class of 2022.

Slack, Zoom, Email

Slack has been selected as a private, secure online communication platform where trainees can post pictures, news articles, comment on and share insights on what you are learning. It allows trainees to easily connect with each other. You will be required to set up a free Slack account and your email will be used to access it.

Zoom presentations and breakout room discussions have been successfully used by SWS for the past two years as is true for training programs around the globe. Presenters are now experts at sharing their presentations via Zoom.

As a trainee, during the 14 weeks of training, you will receive a weekly email reminding you about class and providing the zoom link (which will also be posted in Slack). Ongoing official communication from SWS will be in the form of email.

You will have opportunities to receive training on using Zoom and Slack as a trainee.

Please watch this 1 minute video before you apply.

Thank you for your interest and your potential dedication to marine environment education, science and stewardship. Please direct any questions you may have to training@soundwaterstewards.org.

Sound Water Stewards do not discriminate on the basis of race, disability, color, creed, religion, gender, age, sexual orientation, national origin, ancestry, citizenship, military status, or any other protected classification.

SWS receives financial support from Lighthouse Environmental Programs.