Lifestyle

Meet Erin Corra and find out what’s going on this summer at Lime Kiln

Erin Corra talks with a visitor at the annual Orca Sing at Lime Kiln. - Julie Corey
Erin Corra talks with a visitor at the annual Orca Sing at Lime Kiln.
— image credit: Julie Corey

Ask Erin Corra what her job is  and she will laugh.

“That is not easy,” she’ll say.

After a few minutes pondering the question, she’ll answer with this as her official title; the Lime Kiln Point State Park’s interpretive specialist turned outreach director for the Center for Whale Research in partnership with the state to continue the park’s volunteer and education program.

Make sense?

If not, keep reading and all will be revealed.

Essentially, Corra trains and manages volunteers and runs park tours, which interpret the natural and cultural history, whether teaching about the orcas or the light house. In fact, Corra’s office is a bit of history itself. The quaint cabin used to be a pump house.

Corra was an “interpretive specialist” at Lime Kiln for four seasons until her position was eliminated by budget cuts last year.

“Just because they don’t have the money doesn’t mean it’s not needed,” said Corra, who came up with a plan.

Local park management, with the approval of the State Parks Agency Headquarters, accepted Corra’s proposal to operate a park-wide outreach and education program. The focus is on killer whales and environmental stewardship, as well as providing basic interpretive information about the park’s main historical attractions. Through the Center for Whale Research, she has been pursuing grants and donations to continue the interpretive program at the park.

How did Corra get here?

In 2002, she landed a seasonal job in the San Juan Islands and “fell in love with the place.”

It is apparent in Corra’s enthusiasm when she talks about the park, that she is still in love with the islands and her job.

“My childhood dream happened,” she said reminiscing about her early experiences with the great outdoors. “Now its far beyond what I had imagined,”

In 5th grade, Corra attended an environmental camp in Michigan and learned about nature and the history of the area.

“I wanted to inspire people like I was inspired,” Corra said. “Every day people’s lives are changed after their experience at the park.”

And there are plenty of people to inspire, frequent whale sightings from land based viewpoints help Lime Kiln draw over 200,000 visitors from 40 plus countries a year.

At the park, people can learn anything from the history of the killer whale pods to how pesticides affect the environment.

Corra adds that you can’t measure inspiration with numbers and data and calculate how an experience affects someone’s quality of life, but “you can see it in their eyes.”

She also gets feedback from people who have visited the park through return visits and letters.

What’s next?

Although Corra has found a solution to keeping the volunteer and education program at Lime Kiln, things continue to change at the park.

Recently, Washington State Parks were eliminated from financial support from the state’s general fund. In response, lawmakers authorized state Parks to begin collecting parking fees to recover the roughly $70 million the agency received from the general fund each year. The parking fees, which went into effect July 1, are $30 for a year-long pass or $10 a day.

“Its up to the community and people visiting the park to keep it alive now,” Corra said.

Funding for state parks may be changing, but Corra is doing her best to stay the same, by running the volunteer and education programs at the park.

“There are good things to come,” said Corra as she reflects on the busy summer days that lay ahead for the park.

 

Interpretive Center: 11 a.m. - 4 p.m., Thurs. - Sun. until Sept. 11

Information Station: 11 a.m. - 4 p.m., staff dependent until Sept. 8

Lighthouse Tours: 7 p.m. till sunset, Thurs. & Sat.

Whale Talks: 3 p.m., the light house, Fri. &  Sat. until Aug. 6

Wolf Hollow Wild Things: 2- 4 p.m., light house, Saturdays, until Sept. 3

Tide Pool Tours: At the Interpretive Center Whale Statue, July 16, 11 a.m., July 31, 11 a.m., Aug 11, 9 a.m.

Elephant Revival: 6 p.m., July 19, 220 Crow Valley Lane, $20, proceeds benefit Lime Kiln education programs.

For more info call:

Park Office 378-2044

Erin Corra 378-5154

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