Scott Chase named 2024 Coastal Volunteer of the Year

Scott Chase Coastal Vol of Year 2024

Presented at Sound Waters University, Feb 3, 2024 in Coupeville

“Every time I turn around Scott Chase is there: helping plan new beach education events, spearheading Camano 101 and Whidbey 101, finding auction donations to raise money, introducing speakers at events and giving land/sea/first peoples acknowledgements, connecting SWS to speakers and field trip leaders, suggesting ways to include youth, teaching people to plan for the tides before they set the date for a beach cleanup, knowing who to call when a dead whale or an abandoned boat washes up on the beach and, always, pulling an email or document out of archives as a resource for the future.”  –  Gaylen Heacock, Sound Water Stewards

“What Scott does as a volunteer to protect and conserve our beautiful and sensitive environment, and equip others to do likewise, is part of who he is and how he lives. His enthusiasm is genuine and approachable, giving him an incredible ability to inspire others to action.”  –  Kathryn Wells, Special Projects Administrator, Snohomish Conservation District

“Scott’s dedication to protecting and conserving the region’s natural resources, in part by continually bringing together organizations with similar objectives, and hordes of dedicated volunteers, is what makes his partnership over the years so inspiring.”  –  Lois Ruskell, (retired) Public Relations Coordinator, Snohomish Conservation District

“Scott is always the first person to step forward and the last person to leave.  Humble, gracious, and thoughtful.”  –  Sara Bergquist, WSU Island County Interim Director and Waste Wise Program Coordinator

After Scott Chase’s retirement from WSU Extension in November 2018 he continued feeding his passion for the land and marine environment as a volunteer.  Scott’s passion has not been just the coastal environment around Camano and Whidbey Islands, but also for the education and inspiration of local residents to actively protect their precious surroundings.  Scott is the ultimate networker who brings people together to take action.

He is a thoughtful, enthusiastic participant in all of his volunteer endeavors.  Although a Camano resident he frequently drives to Whidbey Island to represent the interests of education and outreach.  Whether it’s meetings or one-on-one, he forms partnerships that help both islands in their outreach efforts. 

Scott has taught numerous classes for Sound Water Stewards on topics such as mushrooms, landscaping over drainfields, waste reduction and recycling, and presented at Sound Waters University and Whidbey Gardening Workshop.  He volunteers for Waste Wise events (Shred-a-thon and Plastic Pot Exchange) and contributes frequently to their Facebook page, posting up-to-date globally and locally relevant research and information.  And, he also conducts training classes on alternative (green) cleaning products for Waste Wise. 

A few years ago, Scott brought forth the idea which was adopted for SWS to “adopt-a-sign” and clean the Shoreline Interpretive Signs installed by the Marine Resources Committee.  There are 37 shoreline signs in 18 public beach locations throughout Island County.

Scott’s activities have an impact all over Island County through the numerous people he meets and reaches through educational programs as well as physical projects on both islands.  He actively supports new Island County, Sound Water Stewards and WSU Extension employees introducing them to the marine education and resources available including other volunteer and environmental organizations in the area.

On Camano Island Scott can be found at many volunteer events at the State parks (Cama Beach and Camano Island) and County Park beaches working beach cleanups or engaging the public in caring for their environment.  Opening day of crabbing season Scott can be found at boat ramps reaching out to crabbing enthusiasts to educate them in best practices – handing out information, “catch more crab’ brochures, pot-cord, and crab gauges.  Among his many contributions Scott designed, with input from other volunteers, and built a propane canister and charcoal exchange station to reduce camper waste at Cama Beach State Park.  Using an existing design, he also built an interactive student activity on marine pollution for the staff at the Camano State Parks.

Scott frequently travels to Whidbey Island to assist Island County groups with events, including Spring recycling and composting at Whidbey Gardening Workshop, marine and shore education and other events and meetings.  He helped start Whidbey 101, a “Living on an Island” event for Whidbey residents.  And, he also participated in Cornet Bay and Bowman Bay restoration projects.

Every day of the week

Scott is headed out to a meeting of a group he volunteers with or on a Zoom call to plan an event, or is having coffee to mentor a new leader.

  • With Sound Water Stewards: Scott serves on the Camano Steering Committee, the Camano Events team, Co-Chair of the Stewardship Committee, Education Committee, and is starting his second three-year term on the SWS Board of Directors.  He has been an active member since 2002 and is currently involved in 14 Sound Water Steward projects, logging 925 volunteer hours in recent years.
  • Island County Marine Resources Committee (MRC) (2019-present):  Because of his past involvement in creating the Port Susan Marine Stewardship Area 10 years ago he worked with the MRCs in Island and Snohomish counties, as well as other partners, to write a conservation update and story map to mark the restoration progress.
  • Cama Beach Foundation (2017-2023): Board of Directors and co-lead for educational activities.
  • Scott has co-organized Camano 101, Living on an Island in 2020, 2022 and again in 2023 and was involved in restarting Whidbey 101 in 2023.
  • Waste Wise:  He actively volunteers with the organization attending monthly meetings and actively promoting and teaching the goals of generating less waste and living with lower impact.
  • Dedicated partner of Snohomish Conservation District and Whidbey Island Conservation District
  • Lighthouse Environmental Programs (LEP), Board of Directors

The aggregate of Scott Chase’s actions as a volunteer add up to a big impact not just on his immediate environment but on the lives of the people he interacts with and the environment of the whole of Island County. 

Since moving to Camano Island, Scott Chase has been active in Island County organizations involved in environmental protection, specifically marine life, low impact development, waste reduction and beach monitoring.  He is well known in Island County and has accomplished so much, as a volunteer, mentor, educator, and as part of his chosen career.  Scott’s entrance into environmental/marine protection on an island was at a time when Camano Island residents were starting to activate on their own to make sure their priorities were made visible.  Scott became a reliable volunteer with the Beach Watchers and Waste Wise programs, then took his interests further and began a career with WSU Extension Island County.  Scott managed the Shore Stewards programs for the entire county, and became the support coordinator for the Camano-based activities of Waste Wise and Beach Watchers, until he retired when he took up the volunteer mantle once again.  Scott’s dedication to volunteer engagement, mentoring, youth participation, and overall protection of the marine environment were key to bringing recognition and solutions to local issues.

Scott volunteers to teach residents about stormwater, low-impact development practices (rainwater recapture, cisterns, rain gardens), shore monitoring and surveys, coastal geological processes (erosion, bluff stabilization, bioengineering), marine life and pollution.  His personal interest in mushrooms, forest foraging, worm composting, and decreasing plastic in the waste stream have been key to bringing these topics to island residents as well.  He regularly leads beach walks to teach students and adults about the marine environment.  These ongoing educational programs and volunteer events have helped to educate hundreds of people in Island County.  Scott’s enthusiasm has guided shoreline landowners to protect fragile banks, live sustainably, and contribute to scientific data by monitoring and cataloging their beach flora, fauna, storm activity/surges, erosion and invasive species like green crab.  Scott later assisted in the transition of a new employee into his former position, supporting both staff and volunteers for the programs he started and grew.

Scott is the ultimate ‘people person’, always upbeat, friendly, and approachable. His organizational skills with local organizations and his continued positive presence have inspired many others to take part in activities that benefit the marine environment.

Scott’s unwavering dedication to the health of our environment, and his ability to encourage and inspire others, makes his substantial volunteer efforts even more powerful and well-deserving of the Jan Holmes Coastal Volunteer Award.

Past Awards

  • Scott was the recipient of the 2018 Lifetime Achievement Award from Snohomish Conservation District (SCD).  This is because Scott is one of SCD’s most steadfast partners on Camano Island.  His commitment to protecting and conserving the health of shorelines and water resources, in part by continually bringing together organizations with similar objectives and hordes of dedicated volunteers is what makes his partnership over the years so inspiring.  It seems Scott knows every environmental group on Camano Island and in Snohomish County.  Scott believes that we can accomplish more when we share our strengths, ideas and energy.  Note: watch the video here:
  • On April 14, 2022, County Commissioner Janet St Clair recognized Scott with her “Home Town Hero” award for his community involvement.

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