'Dedication and integrity unmatched'; Soundwatch's Koski honored by MRC

Kari Koski, coordinator of the Whale Museum
Kari Koski, coordinator of the Whale Museum's Soundwatch program, was honored by the Marine Resources Committee for her dedication for educating boaters and protecting killer whales. Koski, stepping down after 18 years of leading the program, was presented the MRC's Master Steward Award Jan. 5.
— image credit: Contributed photo

Educator. Enforcer. Diplomat. Cop. Advocate. Statistician. Fundraiser.

Kari Koski has played many a role in 18 years as director of the Whale Museum's Soundwatch program. And her ability to juggle all those hats for the betterment of the Southern resident killer whales did not go by unnoticed.

Koski, who is stepping down later this year after nearly two decades at the helm of the Soundwatch program, was honored Jan. 5 by the San Juan County Resources Committee for her dedication in educating boaters about the killer whales and the many years of advocating on behalf of the endangered Southern residents. She was presented with the MRC's Master Steward Award, just the second such honor that the marine resources advisory group has bestowed to date.

MRC vice chairman John Aschoff, a Soundwatch volunteer the past four years, credits her ability to multi-task, as well as her passion, for helping to ensure that boaters of all types, whale-watch operators, fisherman and recreational boaters, understand how to conduct themselves while in the presence of killer whales.

“She works with everyone and everything including the whale watch industry from both sides of the border, recreational boaters, wildlife agencies, boat drivers, interns, volunteers, fundraising, and more, and she does all this with diplomacy and a cool head," Aschoff said as part of a prepared statement announcing the award. "She defines grace under pressure.”

Veteran MRC member Kit Rawson, a former MRC chairman, noted that Koski's accomplishments reflect the type of influence the MRC itself attempts to follow.

“The Soundwatch program embodies all of the principles the MRC is trying to promote, particularly volunteerism and personal responsibility," Rawson said. "Of course, Kari was way ahead of us, and she helped developed the Marine Stewardship Area and get it right." He added that Koski is known for saying she just happened to fall in with a "whale crowd" when she first arrived in the San Juans, and that killer whale advocates should be thankful that she did.

"All of us here, whale crowd members or not, are very fortunate that she did," he said. "Kari’s dedication and integrity are unmatched.”

— Scott Rasmussen


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