Storming the Sound

A timeline on the wall at Storming the Sound enabled participants to share environmentally significant events that have occurred over the past 20 years, including the start of the environmental education event in 2000, by writing on and posting cutouts of the region's natural resources.

LA CONNER — Students, educators and representatives from environmental groups met Thursday at La Conner’s Maple Hall for the 20th Storming the Sound.

The daylong event brings together those with a common interest in environmental education to hear from experts in the north Puget Sound region.

This year, presenters included members from local organizations including the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community, Skagit Land Trust, Skagit Watershed Council, Skagit Fisheries Enhancement Group and North Cascades Institute.

The lineup also included partners in the SURGE art exhibit hosted at the Museum of Northwest Art, researchers from Washington Sea Grant, staff from nonprofits SeaDoc Society and the National Wildlife Federation, and faculty from the University of British Columbia.

The event drew about 160 attendees, Storming the Sound co-founder and planning team member Britta Eschete said.

She and Susan Wood — education coordinator at the Padilla Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve and a lead planner for Storming the Sound — said it has been typical for many years for the event to draw 150 or more.

Storming the Sound got its start as a potluck at the Padilla Bay reserve in 2000, with about 40 in attendance, Eschete said.

Wood said the event now typically has Western Washington University students, area teachers and high school groups among those in attendance.

As environmental education has grown and changed over the past 20 years, speakers have ranged from activists and pastors to scientists and federal officials, Wood said. More local nonprofits and new citizen science groups have also been brought into the fold.

“I think the environmental education community has broadened over the past 20 years to include many more citizen volunteers like members of the Salish Sea Stewards or Watershed Masters,” Wood said.

Eschete said the primary goal of the event is to collectively learn what environmental education resources are available and which programs offer opportunities to get involved.

“It is certainly my hope and desire that this workshop will continue for the next 20 years,” she said.

— Reporter Kimberly Cauvel: 360-416-2199, kcauvel@skagitpublishing.com, Twitter: @Kimberly_SVH, Facebook.com/bykimberlycauvel

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