Category Archives: Education and Outreach

From the Executive Director Nan Maysen

Recently I was asked to contribute a presentation to our neighboring county that provided an overview of Sound Water Stewards organization. I asked for Paul Ben’s assistance, as my involvement is so recent, and as we were working on it, one slide captured one of the most important qualities about Sound Water Stewards: Aside from the financial support and stability provided by LEP (Lighthouse Environmental Programs) and our Sound Waters University, it is the quality and dedication of the volunteers that make our organization successful.  

Whether we look at the efforts of the members and board in 2015 and 2016, when Sound Water Stewards were just becoming itself, or at the current activities that maintain strength and impact in the County and beyond, the high level of skills and commitment that volunteers bring to SWS are what enables our success.  I have been impressed from my start 5 months ago by the talent and variety of backgrounds that all of the volunteers offer, and also that the all-important ability to work together towards a common goal is one of the threads that weaves among every committee and board member.

I have always felt that teamwork is the best approach with a balance of leadership and feedback from the “boots on the ground” – – or in the mud!  The team that Sound Water Stewards is now – with both coordinators and myself settled into our staff roles and having such a strong and impressive Board and committees to support and work with – – it is something all of you can be proud of! Not every organization is so endowed with talent and dedication!

Low Tide Beach Naturalists Needed:

Cama Beach State Park

Please join our partnering agency and assist visitors on critter identification and exploration. Or if you would like to practice your own skills at identifying marine creatures, please join Cama Beach on the following dates. Each walk begins one hour before low tide. 

  • Sat. June 15 9:30am -1.9ft @ 10:22am
  • Tue. July 2 10:30am -3.0ft @ 11:20am
  • Thur. July 4 Noon -3.4ft @ 12:49pm (lowest all year)
  • Sat. July 6 1:30am -2.0ft @ 2:22pm

 Contact: Terry Skorheim or 360-572-4130

Island County MRC Volunteer Opportunities:

Crabber outreach – a one-time event

  • What: Provide free materials about best practices for crabbing, crab gauges, and rot cord to recreational crabbers.
  • Why: 12,000 crab pots are lost each year in Puget Sound. These derelict pots trap and kill approximately 180,000 crabs.
  • When: Opening day: TBD, likely around July 4
  • Time commitment: 2-4 hours
  • Where: Captain Coupe’s Boat Launch in Coupeville (additional locations may be added based on volunteer capacity)
  • Training/skills required: We will provide training. Volunteers should enjoy interacting with the public.

Contact: Anna Toledo 


If everyone in the U.S. flosses their teeth according to ADA recommendations, every year our empty containers alone would fill a landfill the size of a football field. That’s 6 stories hight-just for the empty floss dispensers! 

The importance of flossing has been well established and tested in dental hygiene literature for over a century (invented in 1898) and twice annual when we visit our dentist. However, the waste generated from plastic floss containers has a significant impact not only on our landfills, our ocean but also on our own health. 

When researching this topic I was startled to discover the U.S. Food and Drug Administration “…classifies dental floss as a Class I device, which means it is deemed to be low risk and subject to the least regulatory controls“. The FDA has little regulator obligation on what comprises floss itself. Historically floss was once made from silk fibers. The FDA states that “…today, floss is usually made from nylon filaments or plastic monofilaments.”

With limited regulation on the makeup of floss, could it have harmful chemicals in it? After digging into the literature to answer this question I came across Boronow et al., 2019 published article:

Half Abstract:
Flossing with Oral-B Glide, having stain-resistant carpet or furniture, and living in a city served by a PFAS-contaminated water supply were also associated with higher levels of some PFASs. Product testing using particle-induced γ-ray emission (PIGE) spectroscopy confirmed that Oral-B Glide and competitor flosses contained detectable fluorine. Despite the delay between blood collection and interview, these results strengthen the evidence for exposure to PFASs from food packaging and implicate exposure from polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE)-based dental floss for the first time.

News Article:

Boronow, K. E., Brody, J. G., Schaider, L. A., Peaslee, G. F., Havas, L., & Cohn, B. A. (2019). Serum concentrations of PFASs and exposure-related behaviors in African American and non-Hispanic white women. Journal of Exposure Science & Environmental Epidemiology, 29(2), 206-217. doi:10.1038/s41370-018-0109-y

From Camano Coordinator Mikaela Montanari


This spring has been very productive and full of wonderful partnerships with many Sound Water Stewards and community members. I’ve just recently wrapped up my official SWS training as of April 25th and am now officially a Steward! The level of detail and topics covered is impressive! Equally impressive are the dedicated folks who keep our Volunteer Education Training going.

Thank you for your dedication and hard work. I have really appreciated the level of detail the facilitators bring to the table. You are in many ways the face of our organization for incoming volunteers. 

Spring Accomplishments:
This winter and spring Suzie Gaffney and I worked with Lincoln Alternative High School students to increase their sense of place as part of the Stillaguamish grant.   Suzie and Janet St. Clair began this project back in 2017 and to date, this will be the second year SWS has provided educational outreach to Lincoln High School. The second goal of this grant is to recruit and train Lincoln High School students to help SWS and Friends of Camano Island State Parks (FOSICP) with Nature Discovery Days (NDD). In order for the high school students to feel knowledgable enough for NDD they received training on coastal geology (taught by Jeff Wheeler), Intertidal Beach Monitoring (taught by Suzie Gaffney, pictured above), ocean acidification (taught by Mikaela Montanari), marine identification (taught by Mikaela Montanari, Suzie Gaffney, Trent Lowe, and Stacey Thompson), tree and plant identification (taught by Dr. Linda Brubaker), and in exchange they would teach Eat with Your Feet (Barnacle game taught by Pat Foss, shown on the right), forest ecology, and beach exploration during NDD. So far both the teacher and the students have enjoyed their SWS partnership!

I’m looking forward to summer activities like Nature Discovery Days May 20th & 21st, Intertidal Beach Monitoring, and Low Tide events!

From Whidbey Coordinator Allie Hudec

Thank you so much to all of you that were willing to make it to the Penn Cove Water Festival. It was a big hit! We had over 100 contacts at the booth and out at the wharf. Our interpreters were certainly busy out there helping kids with the scavenger hunt and telling them about the bones. Our performing barnacles were on point as well, with a little plankton soup from the Whidbey Watershed Stewards booth next door they put on quite a show. Again, thank you to those who joined us and to those who were helping at Hearts and Hammers as well. We are so lucky to live in a county that has so many people willing to give their time and talents to make this world a better place.

We have many opportunities coming down the road! Be sure to make it to the monthly meeting on May 22nd at 10 AM, it will be followed by the opportunity fair so you can see what volunteer opportunities are available.

Thank you for all you do!

Allie Hudec

Speaker Series: Science, Art, & History of the Salish Sea


Speaker Series

Wednesdays at 7pm

at the Bayview Cash Store

Front Room Gallery, 5603 Bayview Road, Langley (upstairs Bayview Cash Store)

Suggested donation of $10 per person


In addition to our speakers series, for the month of March and April, there will be an Art show featuring the beautiful Salish Sea

Mon-Fri. 10am-5pm, March 1 through April 26

Featured Artists: Siri Bardarson, John Hunter, Melissa Koch,

Robin Olive Reich, Carla Stehr, and Linda Warford

Featured Speakers:

  • March 6th, 2019 – “Footprints through time” – Adam Lorio
    Join us to learn a bit about how human communities around Whidbey Island and the Salish Sea have impacted each other since time immemorial. Rooted in a deep sense of place we will take a look through time to see how cultures have evolved and been molded by our landscape.


  • March 13th, 2019 – “Hidden Worlds of Marine Plankton: Life in a Changing Ocean” – Dr. Armbrust

    Every drop of seawater contains fantastically diverse groups of microbes that control key biogeochemical processes in the ocean and determine the habitability of our planet. The challenge is to scale from this world of individual cells to ecosystem function and ultimately to ocean basin processes. Our work focuses on microscopic marine phytoplankton because they are responsible for almost fifty percent of the photosynthesis that occurs on Earth each year, they form the basis of most marine food webs, and they help regulate past and current fluxes of CO2 into the ocean. Phytoplankton evolved in a dilute environment where they are never free from the influences of other microbes. Thus, they serve as critical links within interacting microbial networks of marine ecosystems. Dr. Armbrust will discuss the ways we study these essential microbial communities in the laboratory and on oceanographic cruises, with the ultimate goal of understanding how they will respond to and will help shape future ocean conditions.


  • March 20th, 2019 – “How Nature Journaling Can Enliven Your Time in Nature” – Susan Zwinger

    A hands on Workshop – Susan Zwinger will share her twenty  plus Illustrated Journals and speak about how she draws from them for both books and drawings. She will list the abundant surprising ways a journal may be used (to fit your life). Then she will help you create a simple, but beautiful, journal page to get you on your way.*Please bring blank pages or a sketch notebook and a black ink pen


  • March 27th, 2019 – “Plastic in our environment and in our lives: Problems and solutions” – Heather Trim, Zero Waste Washington
    Plastics are everywhere and their impacts and management are a growing concern around the Pacific NW and globally. Please join Zero Waste Washington for a conversation highlighting current knowledge of plastics, from microplastics in marine waters to plastics recycling challenges. Last year 300 million tons of new plastic were produced globally, and 1/3 of this was used in plastic packaging, including bags, bottles, containers and wrappers. Even in Washington State where we have strong waste reduction goals, only 15% of plastic waste is recycled. What happens to the rest of it? In this presentation, you will find out about plastic waste and what is being done to reduce plastic pollution in our region.


  • April 3rd, 2019 – “Stormwater Pollution: Challenges and Solutions” – Matt Zupich, Whidbey Island Conservation District                                                    This presentation will cover the basics of watershed hydrology, the impacts of stormwater, and scalable management techniques that can be applied to minimize stormwater pollution.


  • April 10th, 2019 – “Art as a way to communicate science: Illustrating marine life with microscopes and fiber art” – Carla Stehr                         Carla is an artist-scientist who uses her scientific background to inspire her art. During her career as a Fisheries Biologist (now retired) she examined fish, invertebrates and plankton with a Scanning Electron Microscope. High magnifications reveal that marine life is far more complex than we can see with our unaided eyes. Even individual fish skin cells or single-celled plankton have amazing structures. Images of these stunning patterns can communicate a sense of that complexity to a broad audience. Carla also uses fabric and stitch to create art illustrating aspects of marine life that might go unnoticed. She will talk about how science and art influence each other in her work, show microscopic views of marine life and their connection to her fiber art and share her experiences of using the art in nature to encourage education about the marine environment.

For more information email us at

This speaker series is brought to you by these organizations