Nancy Neudecker, SWS Class of 2018, of Clinton, WA and Naples, FL
Nancy is one of our most enthusiastic and organized volunteers. She is a part-time resident of Clinton, WA and Naples, FL, splitting her time equally between both homes.
Nancy has spent her lifetime volunteering and making a difference in her profession and community. When she moved to Whidbey in 2017, she was eager to serve it somehow. Her neighbor, Leigh Bloom, had just completed the Sound Water Stewards Volunteer Education Training and suggested she apply for membership.
Nancy was intrigued and joined the Sound Water Stewards Class of 2018. There she met Paul Ben and Jeanie McElwain, the class facilitators. Nancy says, “Jeanie and PaulBen teach from the wisdom and experience of their own journey. I knew I was in the right place at the right time after the first class.” Jeanie and PaulBen live a mile down the road from Nancy, and they became carpool partners. She regards them as her mentors and friends.
Nancy’s heart and focus is on education. Most of her SWS activities are within the Education Pillar that she now co-leads with Allie Hudec. Allie says she would be lost without Nancy because she is such a huge help as a facilitator and organizer.
In 2019 Nancy teamed with Lee Badovinus, her classmate, to co-lead the Whidbey Volunteer Education Training. She was the facilitator and Lee was the scheduler. She benefited from the amazing guidance and dedication of the Whidbey committee members: Jeanie and PaulBen McElwain, Jill Hein, Nicole Luce, Rich Yukubousky, Scott Cole, and MaryAnn Imkamp. She noted that the experience provided a rich, fun, and meaningful connection with the Class of 2019, who she enjoys as much as her class. Nancy continues to serve on the Volunteer Education Training Committee in varying degrees and roles.
Nancy’s professional background was as a clinical dental hygienist. She practiced for 22 years. She served on the Executive Board of the Florida Dental Hygienist Association for 10 years in various leadership roles. Her favorite position was Speaker of the House where she ensured all voices were heard and the delegation passed policy statements supported by the majority. In 1994 in recognition of her service in the field of Dental Hygiene, she was awarded the FDHA Merit Award.
After the birth of her daughter, Lauren, she switched her volunteerism to serve as a Brownie leader, PTO President, and Student Advisory Committee member. She successfully raised funds to renovate and save the Little League ball field in Cambier Park where her daughter and friends played. Naples is known for its Girls World Series Championship teams. Her daughter was a member of the 2000 and 2001 Girls Junior League World Series Championship Softball teams and competed and won both years in Kirkland, WA. Thirteen years earlier, she and her husband cruised through the Islands from Seattle to Vancouver for the Expo and saw the beauty of the Pacific Northwest. They were hooked on Washington state and the islands so much so that they revisited Whidbey Island in 2016 and decided to buy a home.
What brings Nancy joy?
One of Nancy’s first experiences volunteering with SWS was Digging for Dinner with her neighbors, Leigh Bloom and Michele Sakaguchi. The public clamming class and fundraiser offers spectacular mornings on Double Bluff beach, and a great opportunity to work with people of all ages. Volunteers teach participants how to safely harvest, transport, and prepare clams along with the good stewardship to refill the holes. She brings critter ID cards to share knowledge of the beach critters that reside there.
She also volunteers at the Outdoor Classroom run by Whidbey Watershed Stewards, the SWS Central Whidbey Parks Junior Rangers programs, and Boys and Girls Club at the Coupeville Library. Her highlight from last summer was volunteering with Allie at the Readiness to Learn Marine camp, teaching children to use microscopes to study barnacles and seaweed and yoga poses to mimic the animals of the Pacific Northwest. Within the science pillar, she is active in the Bluff Erosion Study and part time monitors a slide at Double Bluff Beach with Barb Hardman and Dave Davis.
As much as Nancy loves the marine environment and critter ID, she loves the mountains, woods, and trails even more. Her friends and trail buddies Tracy Braun and Liz Margolis and Barb Hardman and Dave Davis have shared their visceral love of the North Cascades with her and taken her to sublime settings that she would not have found on her own. Outside of SWS, Nancy volunteers summers at the Whidbey Institute and facilitates introductory walks at the labyrinth nestled at the edge of the legacy forest.
Most recently, Tom Hiegler, Tabitha, and Nancy co-led Sound Waters University 2023|Hope in Action. Sound Waters University is Sound Water Stewards largest educational and fundraising event. Tom recruited Nancy for her excellent organization skills. The fast-paced work required a person with a ‘Big Picture’ point of view to manage this project. Nancy is quick to give credit and thanks to her fellow stewards for the success of Sound Waters University 2022. The committee benefitted from the mentorship of long-time SWU volunteers Sue Salveson, Bridget Simon, Lee Badovinus, Tracy Braun, and Bob Gentz. Past volunteers took on new roles, such as Jack Burchard, Dave Davis, Will Sperling, and Stacey Thompson. Members from the Class of 2021, Robbin Boyatt, Ann Burkhart, Betsy Brace, and Ann Posner added their talents. She kept giving kudus to others.
The Sound Waters University committee is currently recruiting for 2023. Nancy says, “The committee is a fun, welcoming group who needs new and returning SWU volunteers to create and organize the hybrid 2023 event.” Please, contact Tabitha for information and to sign up.
“I volunteer to educate the community and make a difference, but I also volunteer for the enjoyment of connecting with like-minded peers. I am fond of my classmates and fellow stewards and miss everyone. I look forward to future in-person events where we can congregate and share time as a whole again.”