by Janet St. Clair
I want to take a moment to reflect, as fall continues to unfold, on how each of you is making a difference in our Salish Sea. We are gathering reports from all our projects and it is clear, our members are out and about on both islands-gathering data, educating the public and reaching out to involve others in our mission for a healthy, sustainable Puget Sound.
This summer was a dramatic and unfolding tale of why that effort matters. We watched Tahlequah push her dead infant around the Sound for 17 days, drawing worldwide attention to the perils of our Southern Resident Orcas. We grieved the loss of Scarlet, another Southern Resident and now celebrate that we have four mothers who we hope will give birth to healthy baby whales. Washington State recently released the draft report of the task force working to identify solutions to protect this endangered species. More information can be found here via Puget Sound Partnership. Our work in salmon restoration, education and awareness, water monitoring and other projects can align with this initiative.
We also have been hard at work on a strategic plan to be finalized by the end of this year. In addition to the many initiatives from improving our marketing and communications, to stronger fund development to volunteer recruitment and retention, these ideas demonstrate our growth and strength as an emerging nonprofit. One item that has drawn widespread support and interest is to broaden our membership opportunities to include a type of associate membership for spouses, students, working adults or others who may not be able to pursue our intensive training program at this time in their lives. We have talked about this at our monthly meetings, and have shared the proposed by-laws changes for your input and review. We will continue to strive to be a welcoming organization that engages the public in many ways in our work.
Finally, as many of you know, my candidacy for Island County Commissioner may mean a change in leadership for Sound Water Stewards. I want to assure all, that the Board is thoughtfully planning for this possibility and will assure we have continuity of leadership and the care of our staff and members if that transition occurs.
Thank you for your commitment to Sound Water Stewards and to the sustainability of our Puget Sound home.
by Janet St. Clair
Summer is around the corner and we are already full tilt with activities and projects. You will get a chance to read about the efforts on both islands with our intertidal bio-monitoring. The board, staff and citizen science committee had great conversations about this core program of Sound Water Stewards-what we’ve learned in the past two decades and how we will go forward with this effort.
Our Education and Outreach activities are at full capacity. You will get a chance to read about Nature Discover Days on Camano when SWS partners with Friends of Camano Island Parks (FOCIP) get 2nd graders outside learning about the amazing shore to forest habitats. We’ve reached kids and families through our events at Penn Cove Water Festival, our broad range of State Park’s activities or other events. This is especially fun to me as I see their eyes widen as the barnacle pushes his feet out to grab food as it floats by. “Do you eat with your feet?” I ask. “Ewww,” is the chorus that surrounds me as they peer into the microscopes or water tanks we have on display.We also have multiple Citizen Science opportunities for you to participate in. Check with your Island Coordinator for more information. You should receive notices like the mussel bagging project by email or on our Facebook page. Have you liked our Facebook page yet? It is a great way to stay connected. You can click here to get engaged: https://www.facebook.com/Sound.Water.Stewards/ Other ways to be involved are to attend our member monthly meetings which feature great speakers. Recently we had excellent presentations on Climate Change from Dr. Richard Gammon and on Reducing Plastic Waste in our Oceans from Heather Trim of Zero Waste Washington. We hope you will join us at the summer picnic at Deception Pass State Park on Whidbey on July 22. You can always check out all our activities by going to our calendar: https://soundwaterstewards.org/web/#calendar.
My work continues to include grant writing-Thank you to Stillaguamish Community Grants for providing $3225 to Camano Island for our “Get Outside” classroom initiative with Stanwood Camano Schools District for our alternative high school science classes. Thanks to a grant from Goosefoot Community Foundation, we are actively involved in planning a 6 week lyceum series on South Whidbey for March/April of 2019, “The Ecosystem of the Salish Sea: The people, plants and animals that inhabit our home.” (Tentative title…) I am also working with the Board to move forward on Strategic Planning at our annual retreat and have begun implementation of our new donor database with the amazing help of Connie Clark and Paul Ben McElwain.
Finally, we are saying farewell to Suzie Gaffney as our Camano Coordinator but it is a sweet farewell as she will remain a Sound Water Steward member and volunteer, continuing to support our work in education and outreach. Suzie will be pursuing new opportunities closer to home. Suzie was foundational in our transition, supporting the Camano team with dedication, professionalism and always a smile. We welcome to our SWS team Mikaela Montanari who has already begun to be trained by Suzie and our Whidbey Coordinator, Kelly. Suzie officially hands over the tiller to Mikaela on July 1st. Fair winds to Suzie and welcome aboard Mikaela.
Enjoy the summer-get outside-and stay in touch. Send your pictures to us as you participate in SWS activities.