Phyllis Kind - 2012 Jan Holmes Coastal Volunteer of the Year
Phyllis Kind, Ph.D. was presented this award before a packed house of 530 attendees during opening ceremonies of the one-day Sound Waters University. Nominated by a fellow volunteer, Dr. Kind was described as having “an unquenchable curiosity for the natural world and the passion and energy of a college graduate student” who tirelessly volunteered for no less than seven local Washington non-profit organizations.
As a WSU Beach Watcher, Kind has monitored beaches at Maxwelton and South Lagoon Point, made educational presentations and provided support to many affiliated organizations, In 2012, Dr., Kind stepped in to continue an eel grass monitoring project initiated by Jan Holmes in collaboration with Sandy Wyllie-Echeverria of Friday Harbor Labs, to gather a fifth year of data and prepare the study publication. This study, a collaboration of Beach Watchers and the MRC, is an example of how citizen science projects contribute to ongoing research on the health of our coastal waters.
“Her efforts resulted in the designation of two local Stewardship Areas – Saratoga Passage and Admiralty Inlet, which ensured protection to safeguard the waters, marine life, plant life and surrounding shores and beaches” said long time MRC member Dick Toft. He noted that that during the eight years she served on the MRC, Dr. Kind was instrumental in the building public support for our local Marine Protected Areas.
At the same time, Dr. Kind served as Vice-Chair and Chair of the Northwest Straits Commission as they implemented a project to address the ongoing damage posed by derelict fishing gear in Puget Sound to fish, sea mammals, diving birds and shell fish populations.
As a member and leader of the Whidbey Audubon Society, Dr. Kind spearheaded monitoring and data collection of bird species and counts at Deer Lagoon, Dugualla Bay, the Greenbank Farm and Trillium Community Forest. Statistics from these long running studies have been used by numerous organizations to secure grant funding, preserve and protect habitat and advocate for conservation policy.
As co-leader of the Pigeon Guillemot Research Group since 2004, Dr. Kind, and Frances Wood, designed, administered, organized and implemented this survey of a population of sea birds that nest in burrows in the bluffs of Whidbey Island. Each year the Pigeon Guillemot Survey project trains 30-40 citizen scientist volunteers who observe, record and submit data collected from 26 Pigeon Guillemot colony nesting sites around Whidbey Island. The Washington State Department of Ecology recently identified data collected from these surveys as one of several factors to assess the effects of the sinking of the fishing vessel Deep Sea on the habitat and water quality conditions in Penn Cove.
Scientific in her approach, enthusiastic in her manner, eager to make a contribution and always willing to share her time, skills, knowledge and know how, Dr. Kind continues to make a significant impact with the organizations and people she engages. Her legacy of unselfish service and leadership with so many local organizations combined with her significant contributions to citizen science research make Dr. Phyllis Kind a most deserving candidate for this honorable award.
MRC Renames Coastal Volunteer Award for Jan Holmes
Every year, hundreds of volunteers contribute thousands of hours of service, science and outreach in support of Island County's marine environment. They do so as members of various organizations and, in some cases, as citizens unaffiliated with any group. in 2009, the MRC and WSU Beach Watchers partnered to establish an award to recognize this contribution of volunteer service and leadership. They created the annual Island County Coastal Volunteer of the Year Award, open to any citizen of Island County regardless of affiliation.
To identify the winner, a joint committee of the MRC and WSU Beach Watchers review nominations submitted by the public. One individual is chosen and the award is presented in February before an audience of some 600 people attending the annual Sound Waters University.
No one better embodied the spirit of such service in Island County than Jan Holmes, a long-time WSU Beach Watcher and early member of the MRC. Her death in December of 2011 was a great loss to members, friends and volunteers in both organizations. In recognition of her leadership, the MRC voted unanimously in January 2012 to rename the award in her honor, The Jan Holmes Island County Coastal Volunteer of the Year.
Holmes and her husband, Steve, moved to Whidbey Island after completing careers in the airline industry. In 1990, Holmes received training as a WSU Beach Watcher. She found such joy and wonder in the nearshore environment that she went back to school at Western Washington University and obtained a degree in marine science. She became a leader in the Beach Watcher organization, inspiring fellow volunteers, adults and children with her infectious enthusiasm as a teacher and mentor.
As a scientist Holmes set high standards, developing rigorous protocols for the Beach Watchers intertidal monitoring program and later creating an innovative eelgrass research project that has revolutionized the gathering of eelgrass data by citizen volunteers at a fraction of the traditional cost. She collaborated closely with the MRC while attracting talented volunteers to the project.
In 2010, Holmes was honored for her community service with the prestigious Cox Conserves Heroes Award for Western Washington, in competition with volunteers from other areas of the state. The award is given by KIRO TV and The Trust for Public Land.
Sammye Kempbell - 2011 Jan Holmes Coastal Volunteer of the Year
Sammye Kempbell of Coupeville is the 2011 Jan Holmes Island County Coastal Volunteer of the Year. She became a WSU Beach Watcher in 2003 and has logged more than 4,000 hours of volunteer time making 41,000 contacts with members of the public, providing beach naturalist interpretive services to school children and speaking about the shoreline at summer festivals, conferences and directly with tourists.
A tragic irony of the shoreline is how easily well-meaning people can wreak destruction unknowingly if not guided in their explorations. At Rosario Beach in Deception Pass State Park, a small pocket of rocky tidepools constitutes an extraordinary nearshore treasure. Low tides expose fragile sea life to the threat of devastating damage from thousands of visitors. On one particularly tragic day, just a single visit to this beach by busloads of school children resulted in severe damage.
Kempbell made it her mission to solve this problem by educating the beach-going public, investing thousands of hours in meeting tour groups and other visitors, welcoming them and explaining the fragility of the shoreline. In 2011, she collaborated with state park staff, the Deception Pass Park Foundation, WSU Island County Beach Watchers and Lighthouse Environmental Programs to launch a formal beach naturalist program. She recruited and trained volunteers, sought funding and organized partnerships with other organizations. The program in 2011 developed a team of 24 trained naturalists who provided interpretive services at 104 low tides at Rosario during the heavily-visited summer months.
Barbara Brock - 2010 Coastal Volunteer of the Year
Barbara Brock of Camano Island is our 2010 Island County Coastal Volunteer of the Year. She is pictured at Iverson Spit Reserve, where she had just finished installing an MRC interpretive sign with a work party of volunteers from Friends of Camano Island Parks. Carol Triplett snapped the photo.
The selection committee chose Barbara Brock for her extensive volunteer service as a WSU Beach Watcher and for her work with other local groups engaged in environmental stewardship. She is a member of the Water Resources Advisory Committee (WRAC) and has served on the Salmon Technical Advisory Committee, a WRAC subcommittee.
Brock was a member of the first class of WSU Beach Watchers trained on Camano Island in 2002 and helped develop the Shore Stewards program that later expanded to Whidbey Island and throughout Puget Sound. She headed the volunteer team carrying out juvenile salmon seining research on Camano Island during the period of active seining studies there and currently does some salmon recovery work on Kristoferson Creek, where she also keeps an eye on the beavers. She helped develop the county's Camano Island Non-Point Pollution Plan and currently sits on the Shore Stewards Advisory Committee and on the board of Friends of Camano Island Parks.
The MRC collaborated closely with Brock in developing the text and graphics for several shoreline interpretive signs we have installed at English Boom County Park, Iverson Spit Reserve, Camano Island State Park and Cama Beach State Park.