Large woody debris provides a buffer to the backshore at Keystone Spit. Photo: Pedersen
Volunteer of the Year

Volunteer of the Year

Frances Wood - 2022 Jan Holmes Island County Coastal Volunteer of the Year

France Wood 2022 Award Winner

 

 

Frances Wood leader of the Pigeon Guillemot Breeding Survey is well deserved in winning the Jan Holmes award for 2022.

This award, presented by the Island County Marine Resources Committee, Sound Water Stewards, and WSU Extension – Island County, is given every year to an outstanding volunteer whose efforts contribute to the protection and restoration of the Island County marine ecosystem and coastal resources.

 The award is named to honor the memory of Jan Holmes, an exemplary marine scientist, educator, and champion for stewardship of the marine environment.

 

Frances Wood in collaboration with Phyllis Kind (recipient of the 2013 award) developed the original protocol which was designed to recruit local volunteers to monitor Pigeon Guillemot colonies along bluffs in Island County. The survey was begun in 2004. In 2020, under Frances’ steady leadership, this initial survey has grown to become the Salish Sea Guillemot Network (SSGN) and is steadily expanding to include multiple locations within the Salish Sea.

Hundreds of local residents in Island County and across the region have volunteered thousands of hours and, through their experiences, have become informed champions for marine conservation. In addition, this base of citizen scientists have collected data with integrity that has been used to further scientific understanding of the Salish Sea. The quality of the Whidbey PIGU Breeding Survey data has been recognized as scientifically valuable and is used by University of Washington (WU), Puget Sound Partnership (PSP) and Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) academics and scientists for analysis of marine bird population trends.

 Pigeon Guillemots are considered indicator species and their population health is tied to the health of the marine and shoreline ecosystems they use during the course of the breeding season. As one of the few seabirds that both breed and winter in the region, they offer an important tie to our marine environments.

 Frances has shown unique vision, leadership and dedication to bring to life a network that advances knowledge regarding the marine and terrestrial ecosystems of the Salish Sea.

 Thank you and congratulations to Frances for all her hard work to make the Salish Sea a better place!

 


ABOUT THE JAN HOLMES ISLAND COUNTY COASTAL VOLUNTEER OF THE YEAR AWARD

The Jan Holmes Island County Coastal Volunteer of the Year Award is named to honor the memory of Jan Holmes, an Island County resident and WSU Island County Beach Watcher who was an exemplary marine scientist, educator and champion for stewardship of the marine environment.

In recognition of the continuing need for volunteers to carry on this important cause, the Jan Holmes Island County Coastal Volunteer of the Year Award is presented annually to one individual engaged in service, science or outreach relating to the health of Island County’s marine environment and whose work adds to knowledge about and/or protection of county marine waters and coastal resources.

Nominations are open to anyone, regardless of organization or affiliation. The intent of the award is to encourage and recognize the achievements of volunteers who work to understand, protect and restore the marine waters and coastal resources of Island County.

The award is sponsored by the Island County Marine Resources Committee (MRC), Sound Water Stewards (SWS), and Washington State University (WSU) Island County Extension. A committee representing the three sponsoring organizations selects one winner. The award is presented during the opening ceremonies of Sound Waters, an annual one-day university held on the first Saturday in February.


AWARD RENAMED IN 2012 IN HONOR OF JAN HOLMES

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 September 2010, 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.

Karis Barnes: 2021
Sandy Dubpernell: 2018
Nicole Luce: 2020
Connie Clark: 2017
Craig & Joy Johnson: 2019
Bob Gentz: 2016
Ken Urstad: 2015
Jill Hein: 2014
Phyllis Kind: 2013
Sammye Kempbell: 2012
Barbara Brock: 2011
Volunteer of the Year