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Meet the newest group of WSU Beach Watchers
By NORRIS PALMER
Eighteen dedicated lovers of the marine environment received their certificates of completed studies on May 21 at the U.W. Friday Harbor Labs.
These certificates represent more than 20 days of training in the WSU Beach Watchers program. Each Beach Watcher will provide more than 100 hours of community service to educate and inform islanders and visitors of the importance of responsible marine stewardship.
Tom Schultz, San Juan County extension director, presented the elated grads with their certificates. “We know you are going to take your enthusiasm and love of the environment and do great things. Some of you will become famous and I guarantee you that you will all be well known in the community. You are now part of this larger family of Beach Watchers, joining six other counties.”
“We are so proud of you all,” said Donald Meehan, director and founder of the Natural Resources Stewardship program. “We have a big problem here in the Puget Sound area and that is us as people. We have all been coming here and love it here and, because of that, we create a lot of problems for the area.
"I think if you look at the issues coming out of the Puget Sound Partnership, it seems to be settling on the issue of stormwater. It’s because water is a universal solvent, and everything comes out of the watershed and down hill to the Puget Sound. The problem is coming from all these things we put into the stormwater system. You folks have the ability to make a difference in your community. It's building a community that helps itself, because if we are counting on government to come in and help us, we are in trouble because they are not going to, and the government is often the problem.
"Beach Watchers don’t get into the activism role. Instead, we are educators and that’s what we want you folks to be — to use the information that we have about our natural system to train people and change their behavior in positive ways.”
Shann Weston, Beach Watchers program coordinator, said, “Our graduates have served in the role of teaching visitors to the Whale Museum, Friday Harbor docks, State Parks and especially the Washington state ferry. They have served in stewardship projects for the Land Bank, tagging and identifying creosoted logs and helping to rout out invasive species like Spartina. They serve by conducting salmon, amphibian and other studies from baseline monitoring to beach seining insect identification."
Weston said Beach Watchers are engaged in high-profile outreach, education, baseline research and monitoring and “boots-in-the mud” restoration.
New Beach Watchers from Lopez Island: Susan Muckle, Charlie Behnke.
Orcas Island: David Schermerhorn, Sheldon Gregory, Margot Shaw, Bruce Hall, Barbara Bentley, Kim Secunda, James Lobdel, Marcia Spees, Nancy Alboucq.
From San Juan Island: Cynthia Hubbard, Karen Kuster, Geneva Mottet, Zach Chan, Christine Chan, Skip Kimble, Ann Jarrell, Don Jarrell, Linda Thompson, Andrea Wieland.