Contributed photo
From right: Katie, right, with her mentees from 2017-21, Ayla, left, and Raylee, center.

Contributed photo From right: Katie, right, with her mentees from 2017-21, Ayla, left, and Raylee, center.

Supporting local students to help our community

By Michel Vekved

Friends of the San Juans Director of Philanthropy

You know that students hold the power to create change — they are an electrified force. At Friends, Katie Fleming, our Community Engagement Director, embraces that energy. Katie is in her essence, electric! She lights up the classroom talking with students. She illuminates student potential on field trips to Olympia, as a conductor between local legislators and students. You can see the spark in her eyes as she embraces the future with hope, cultivating the energy of our youth and guiding them to create environmental projects and outreach campaigns. Your donation is the live wire to connect the students who will impact and influence environmental policy based upon science and their passion.

“Katie has a wealth of knowledge. Ever since she came into our class in eighth grade, she has been the go-to person. With Katie’s help I have traveled to Seattle to attend an environmental conference led by Al Gore, interviewed county council members running for office, and dove into a deep research project about the waste management system in the islands,” Linnea Morris, a 2021 Orcas Island senior, said.

We have all witnessed youth advocacy for endangered species, reducing plastic use, and climate action. In some way, these young people have had the benefit of mentors like Katie. Mentoring youth is a powerful and productive way to ensure stewardship — Friends is one of the only local nonprofits guiding direct action for local students.

You can support, transform and inspire students who will find solutions to critical environmental needs. There are two ways to give in the coming weeks:

GiveBIG – Visit on May 4 and 5 to support our San Juan County-wide education and mentoring programs.

GiveOrcas – Visit on May 3-17 to target your support for Orcas Island students who will change the world.

You can also donate directly to the mentorship program at any time by visiting

Your donation can help us ensure that local students have the resources and mentoring they need to create a values-based, sustainable future!

“I’m interested in environmental science and maybe taking a policy perspective. It’s been something I’ve been interested in since the first time you took us to Olympia. I really loved walking the halls of the capital building and could see myself there working on environmental policy,” 2021 San Juan Island senior Ayla said. “Everything I’ve done with [Katie] and Friends really has had an impact on what I want to study!”