From the region’s well-known salmon and seals to a recently-arrived invasive hornet and deep-sea volcanoes, the 2021 Friends of Skagit Beaches lecture series will explore diverse topics relevant to the environment in Skagit County.
For the first time, the winter lecture series will be held online using the video conferencing platform Zoom.
The series, which consists of one lecture by an area expert monthly January through April, was interrupted in early 2020 by the COVID-19 pandemic. Only the first two events were held, at the usual venue — the Northwest Educational Service District 189 building in Anacortes.
The building is usually full for the events, drawing more than 100 participants. Organizer Betty Carteret said in January and February 2020, a combined 434 people attended to hear about North Cascades glaciers and beavers.
Such a crowd is not allowed during the pandemic. So the nonprofit Friends of Skagit Beaches is prepared to host the events over Zoom.
“Two of the topics, the one about pinnipeds and the one about deep-sea volcanoes, were slated for last year and the speakers agreed to do it on Zoom for us this year,” Carteret said.
New topics include salmon recovery efforts in the Pacific Northwest and examining the threats the invasive Asian giant hornet poses in the state.
Friends of Skagit Beaches is, like many other groups and businesses, now well-versed in the online landscape.
In April, the local environmental group launched a program called Tuesday Talks in partnership with the Anacortes Public Library.
“It was a bit of a learning series,” Carteret said.
The Tuesday Talks were held from late April to mid-June, and recordings are available on Vimeo. The series started with a discussion on the 50th anniversary of Earth Day and later included talks on Fidalgo Island shorelines, local forests and Deception Pass.
While less popular than the winter lecture series and limited by Zoom to 100 participants, the Tuesday Talks each had at least 35 participants and some maxed out.
“It was pretty successful,” Carteret said. “We were pretty pleased with the fact that we had such good attendance.”
The organization is looking forward to reviving its winter lecture series through the online format, and plans to broaden the series’ reach by recording each lecture for on-demand access.
“In the past we’ve talked about trying to record the lectures somehow, but we’ve just never quite been able to figure out how to do that from a live presentation,” Carteret said. “Zoom makes it really easy: You just press record.”