Friends Notes

Forage Fish Interpretive Station Thrills Young Students . . . and Adults

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Forage Fish station at Bowman

Friends of Skagit Beaches volunteers, Barbara Lechner and Michelle Marquardt, have developed a very popular interactive forage fish interpretive station and now expanded that into a program for Junior Ecologists (ages 5 – 9).  Through the use of slides, props and participation, children have a fun experience learning about forage fish - what forage fish are, why forage fish are so important, who eats forage fish, and what makes a healthy beach for Surf Smelt egg spawning.  The program is concluded with a forage fish song sing-a-long and coloring pages reinforcing the information. This type of interactive learning helps students develop a personal connection to our marine environment, which we believe helps to foster a life-long commitment to environmental stewardship.

On May 31, the program was presented to a class at Island View Elementary to prepare them to search for surf smelt eggs on the beach (see more about this in the article below.)

And it’s not just for kids . . . Throughout the summer and early fall the Forage Fish Interpretation station will be going out on the beach during forage fish egg surveys (weather permitting).  Watch for us out on the shores of Fidalgo Bay and Bowman Bay.

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Volunteer Opportunities

As most of you know, Friends is an all-volunteer organization and we depend on our Board and members to help us with the work we do in the community.  We are currently preparing for upcoming events you read about above and could use help.  Below is a list of current volunteer opportunities we have and if you have an interest in getting involved in supporting Friends with your time, we would certainly appreciate it.  If you can help with any of the activities below, please email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

National Estuaries Day – Discovery Passport: we need help pulling together information and getting our Discovery Passports updated, printed and assembled for the August 12th event that will be part of Fidalgo Bay Day.

National Estuaries Day – Passport Station:  we need a few volunteers to sign up for shifts to work at our information table and hand out passports and prizes and answer questions about the activity.

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2017 Lecture Series - Another record-breaking year!

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The Friends Lecture Series volunteer team has hit another one out of the ballpark!  The 2017 season was a record-breaker in total attendance for the year and for the highest attendance ever at a single lecture.  The season opened with an audience of 290 crowding into every nook and cranny of the Reid Harbor Room of the NW ESD Building to hear “Research and Insights on Northwest Coast Humpback, Blue, and Gray Whales and their Incursions into the Salish Sea” by  John Calambokidis, research biologist, Cascadia Research Cooperative, Olympia, WA. This gave our planning team a bit of heartburn as we were worried about having to find yet another larger venue.  Fortunately, attendance at the following lectures dropped back to more normal levels (110 – 172) ending with a new record of 696 attendeesfor the season.

Obviously the community values the Lecture Series during the long winter months.  Audience evaluations confirm that with praise such as . . . “This was excellent. . . . Fantastic! . . . I learned a lot. . . . Great photos, dynamic speaker!  . . . The series is very useful to the community. . . . We appreciate the ease of seating for wheelchairs. . . . Like the lectures although I don't understand everything - stretches your mind.”  Well guess what?  It stretches our mind too!

The volunteer team is taking a break over the summer but keeping their eyes and ears open for speaker candidates for the 2018 lecture series.  The dates for 2018 have already been selected:  January 19, February 16, March 16, and April 20.  We’re sure the 2018 season will again deliver high-quality educational presentations to an enthusiastic audience.  This year our volunteers “reported” 203 hours of time putting on the 2017 lecture series, which of course is less than the actual amount.

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Fall Film Series on Hiatus for 2017

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With the move of the Fidalgo Shoreline Academy to October the Friends Board decided to not offer the Fall Film series (October & November) this year.  Since the Trail Tales grant ended, Friends has not been able to continue  its project to sponsor short documentary films made by students from local schools and Western Washington University, which was a key component of our film series.

We will be evaluating whether to continue this in 2018 including looking at the best time of year, type of film event (series versus festival), and other questions.  We’ll also be considering other grant opportunities to restart our collaborations with young filmmakers.  Stay tuned and we’ll be updating you in a future edition of the newsletter on our decisions.  If you have any suggestions, please contact us This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Save the Date - 2017 Fidalgo Shoreline Academy

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October 21, 2017 - Anacortes, WA

NW Educational Services District Building

The Fidalgo Shoreline Academy is an annual educational symposium and fundraiser for Friends, which has been offered since 2013.  This day-long event offers an opportunity to learn more about a wide variety of topics from excellent speakers.  The Friends Board decided in early 2017 to move the time of the annual Fidalgo Shore Academy to fall instead of spring. Another change this year is that the venue for the event is being moved to the NW Educational Services District Building, where the Friends Lecture Series is hosted.  This venue will offer more space and improved logistics and audio visual resources that we hope will enhance the experience for attendees, as well as the organizing team.

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Our Mission: Protecting Skagit shorelines and marine waters through education, citizen science, and stewardship. Learn More...

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