Friends Notes

Marine Debris Project by the Puget SoundCorps




by Hillary Foster

This past year I, as a member of the Puget SoundCorps (PSC) through Washington Conservation Corps/AmeriCorps and WA Department of Natural Resources Aquatic Reserves Program, have started a new, long-term monitoring project regarding marine debris. The PSC has adopted the protocols for the NOAA Marine Debris Monitoring and Assessment Program. This project serves as a basis for nationwide monitoring and assessment of marine debris. It seeks to answer questions such as how big is the marine debris problem, how is it changing over time, and which debris types are most common.

Puget SoundCorps members Matt Morassutti, Hillary Foster, and Nathan Boyer-Rechlin with volunteers Rachel Best and Tom Flanagan getting ready for the standing-stock survey at Padilla Bay.

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Discovery Passports are a Hit!






By Betty Carteret

Friends of Skagit Beaches again sponsored the Discovery Passport activity at the 2017 Fidalgo Bay Day event on August 12th. This year was bigger and better than ever. We distributed 203 passports, which was double the total from last year. Kids (of all ages) had a great time grabbing their passport and heading out to visit the Passport Stations where they were challenged to answer a question about that station. This year we had 14 stations to visit and in order to collect a prize participants needed to visit at least 8. It was so much fun that most of the “Passporters” visited them all.

 It’s sooo hard to decide which prize to pick.

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FBARCSC, STEM, and the Next Generation of Citizen Scientists


By Wayne Huseby

It all started with a simple email in late February from my good friend Vicki Stowe asking if our group, the Fidalgo Bay Aquatic Reserve Citizen Stewardship Committee (FBARCSC), would consider hosting a “STEM Sampler” workshop. Vicki is a wife, mother, and a passionate champion for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) education in our local schools. Besides leading efforts to raise thousands of dollars for STEM programs, Vicki volunteers her time to organize and manage STEM activities for our kids. One of those programs is called “STEM Sampler”. The goal of the program is to engage each Middle School student in a hands-on, workshop oriented activity that exposes them to STEM subjects that they would otherwise not have time for in their regular school schedule. The hope is to stimulate some students to consider taking STEM courses that could lead to a rewarding and fulfilling career.

In late March, Vicki, Pete Haase (FBARCSC President), and I met for coffee to discuss a possible workshop. We decided that engaging students in one of our citizen science-based forage fish surveys (surf smelt eggs) would be a perfect fit. It would demonstrating how STEM can lead to new knowledge about a very important species of our marine ecosystems. One of the primary missions of the FBARCSC is to engage the community and provide educational programs about the Fidalgo Bay Aquatic Reserve (FBAR). We had no idea how we were going to do it, but agreed to host a workshop in mid-June.

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2018 Lecture Series is in the Works!


The project planning team for our annual lecture series is hard at work figuring out the details for the 2018 lectures! This includes the all-important task of selecting four exceptional speakers to present during the upcoming season. The team has had several planning meetings already, even though the series doesn’t start until January 2018.

We’re in the process of whittling down a starting list of 49 candidate topics to the final 4. Even though sorting through that many options can seem daunting, Matt Kerschbaum makes the process fun. They started with 49 sheets of paper on the table and thoughtful discussion immediately removed 24 leaving a shorter list of 25 for the second cut round. Each team member was given 12 pennies to place on the remaining 25 sheets of paper to select their top 12. This enabled the group to shave the list to 13 candidates. 

Team members (l – r) Sue Ehler, Matt Kerschbaum, Barbara Lechner, and Gina Johnson

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