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Volunteering on Our Waterways

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Without our bountiful sea, we’d simply be known as “Ivar’s Food Restaurants.” Not as catchy, is it?! Here in Western Washington, there are many ways everyday citizens can get involved to help keep our Puget Sound and feeder waterways clean and litter-free. Environmental rewards aside, volunteering is a great way to get moving outdoors, breathe in some fresh air and build community. Here are just a few opportunities waiting for your energy and willing hands:

Salish Sea Stewards

North/Skagit County - Salish Sea Stewards
Do you love science and learning about the Salish Sea and all the critters and plants that live here? Help protect and restore them with the Skagit Marine Resources Committee’s Salish Sea Stewards, which offers 40 hours of FREE citizen science training taught by local experts. In return, participants pledge to commit 40 hours of volunteer service in one year. Learn about intertidal habitats, forage fish, climate change, marine mammals, coastal processes and more through lectures and hands-on fieldwork. The program is now accepting applications through March 1 for the 2020 Salish Sea Stewards training (March 10 - May 12, 2020 with classes held Tuesdays from 1 - 5 p.m.) usually at Padilla Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve.

Greater Puget Sound - Washington Sea Grant (WSG) 
An extension of the University of Washington College of the Environment, the WSG endeavors to help people and marine life thrive by supplying research, technical expertise and educational activities that support the responsible use and conservation of ocean and coastal ecosystems. Get involved in a variety of volunteer opportunities with WSG through its ongoing activities in the Puget Sound region. Programs include Bivalves for Clean Water, Green Crab Monitoring Program, King Tides, Kitsap Watershed Stewardship, Sound Toxins, State of the Oyster Study and Well Education Testing. The events calendar is online here

Seattle Aquarium’s Beach Naturalist Program

Seattle – Beach Naturalist Volunteerism with Seattle Aquarium 
The Seattle Aquarium offers five robust volunteer programs tailored to youth, college students and adults, among them the Beach Naturalist Program. Beach naturalists are local citizens who care about Puget Sound beaches and want to help protect them. These volunteers help people to learn about and enjoy area shorelines. Beach naturalists help others enjoy the habitat without harming it, explain the marine life and their habits, critter-handling, beach-walking etiquette and help during public low tide walks. Prospective volunteers can fill out a form here or read up on all volunteer opportunities at https://www.seattleaquarium.org/volunteer.

Puget Sound - Puget Soundkeeper Alliance 
Lead a group beach cleanup, monitor water quality, patrol waterways by kayak or vessel, conduct community outreach and more. Puget Soundkeeper Alliance is a nonprofit that relies on volunteers to protect and preserve the Sound. It monitors Puget Sound water quality, helps set strong policies and regulations that protect local waterways and people’s health, enforces environmental regulations, engages citizens and businesses in waterway cleanups and recovery projects, educates and involves the public in local water pollution issues and partners with local and regional groups to advance solutions that protect Puget Sound. Get involved and see the opportunity calendar at https://pugetsoundkeeper.org/volunteer/

King County Basin – Stream Restoration
Basin Stewards are a team of Water and Land Resources (WLR) Division professionals knowledgeable about community and natural resources in specific King County watersheds. They work with citizens to answer questions about best management practices, regulations, wildlife and water quality concerns, land conservation and habitat restoration. They also work with other King County staff to coordinate volunteer efforts to restore streamside habitats. Stewards head specific geographic areas, so find yours here and connect with nearby volunteer opportunities. 

Eco-Crews, Vashon

Everywhere - Eco-Crews (Park and Shoreline Clean-Ups)
A couple of local friends and SkyWest first mates and pilots teamed up to form a public group whose sole purpose is to promote environmental activism in communities and in nature. “Wherever we may roam, no matter where we go, we seek to improve and restore the environment,” says co-founder, Joey Leatherman. “We connect people, communities and businesses for environmental restoration projects.”  One bag of garbage at a time, Eco-Crews seeks to heal this earth. No training required, just check the events tab on the Facebook page to join in the stewardship. 

As you can “sea,” there are plenty of opportunities for you to get involved in keeping the Puget Sound healthy and happy. Which volunteer group(s) do you plan to join?