SWS Training – How to Join Sound Water Stewards

How to Join Sound Water Stewards of Island County

SWS are trained volunteers working in and around Island County for a healthy, sustainable Puget Sound environment through education, stewardship and citizen science.

Class of 2021 is full. We are no longer accepting applications, but please sign up for our newsletter to be notified when the application period for 2022.

The 100-hour annual training is required to become a Sound Water Steward. It is only offered once each year and class size is limited. Joining part way through is not an option. We will accept new applicants in January 2022. For now, you may add your name to the waiting list and we’ll be sure to connect with you regarding the 2022 Training. 

Training includes 14 sessions held virtually, April 8 – May 20, 2021 and September 9 – October 21, 2021. Sessions start at 9:00 am and wrap up at about 2:30 pm weekly on Thursday via Zoom. Training includes virtual online classes, great field trips, viewing of online content, and individual and group assignments. 

Small, socially distanced field trip opportunities will be scheduled on both islands on non-class days to supplement online curriculum. All programming follows Island County Department of Health and State of Washington COVID safety standards, including social distancing, sanitizing, and masks.

Why Join ?

Maybe you are interested in learning how to protect and preserve your favorite beach. Or perhaps you are concerned about development and its impact on our natural resources. Maybe you would like to better understand the geology and biology of these beautiful islands and surround yourself with terrific new people who share your love of nature. Or maybe you just want to give something back.

Whatever the reason, as a Sound Water Stewards trainee you will work a bit, learn a lot and have more fun than you ever imagined. And you will make a difference in the community.

Sound Water Stewards are dedicated environmental educators. For more about SWS, see:

The Training

Training is the best part and includes 90 hours of expert training from top professionals, plus 10 hours of hands-on training with ongoing projects in the summer. About a third of the training includes guided outdoor field trips. All field trips follow local county and CDC guidelines for safety including appropriate social distancing, masking, and access to hand sanitizer. 

The focus of training is on nearshore marine environments, but we also explore watersheds and groundwater, marine biology and oceanography, salmon and nearshore habitats, climate change, noxious weeds, agriculture, forestry, waste reduction, recycling, sustainable living, native plants and wildlife, intertidal monitoring, coastal geology and more. Classes are rigorous, but also fun!

Classes meet once a week on Thursdays with a 7 week session in Spring and a 7 week session in fall. 2021 training occurs on Thursdays, April 8 – May 20 and will continue September 9 – October 21, 2021.

The Cost of Training

There is a $200 fee to offset the 14-week class costs. Scholarships and payment plans are available. (For payment, we accept checks or credit cards. Payment is made on or after the first day of class.) You will need a computer with microphone and camera, or a tablet. 

In return for this unique educational opportunity, all new Sound Water Stewards agree to commit to 50 hours of volunteer community outreach for two consecutive years (100 hours total over 2 years). 

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 speak at schools and community meetings, lead beach walks, give nature talks or troll the shorelines for trash and noxious weeds. Others contribute to the administration of Sound Water Stewards programs, projects and websites.

How to Apply

Class of 2021 is full but you can apply for the waiting list using the form below. Please use this online application form to apply. Form must be completed in one-pass (no save and return later). If you have difficulty with this online form, please let us know; send email to training@soundwaterstewards.org or call 360-678-4401. 

All applications must be received by March 8, 2021.

Once most applications have been received, we will contact you to arrange for a short personal conversation to address SWS expectations and to answer your questions. 

We are flexible and will work with you to find the best ways to use your skills, interests and knowledge.

If you have further questions, contact training@soundwaterstewards.org