Education Specialist Liz Doane

Our new Education Specialist, Liz Doane (see her staff bio here), has had a busy first summer advancing the “Care” and “Connect” aspects of the Preservation Trust’s mission by fostering youth service-learning opportunities on SJPT-protected lands.

The season got off to an electrifying start in July, when Liz arrived on Waldron Island in the midst of a rare thunderstorm. She was there to welcome a group of campers and counselors from nearby Camp Nor’Wester.

Liz devised educational activities to supplement the teens’ service work on Cowlitz Bay and Point Disney preserves (all with stellar assistance from Alden Remington, SJPT’s Waldron Island caretaker). Four days of readings and spirited discussion about food webs, conservation, botany, and geology alternated with energetic sessions of trail maintenance and weed removal.

San Juan Island Youth Conservation Corps members show off the wetland walkway they built at Ihiya Biological Preserve

Similar outings soon followed, all designed to exercise young participants’ minds as well as their muscles. In July and August, Youth Conservation Corps (YCC) crews from Orcas and San Juan Islands tackled a total of 10 service projects on SJPT preserves spanning Orcas, Shaw, and San Juan islands.

With indispensable support from SJPT’s Stewardship staff, YCC members and crew leaders put in almost 100 hours performing various stewardship tasks—including installing 30 feet of bridging over seasonally wet portions of trail on San Juan Island’s Ihiya Biological Preserve—while also absorbing environmental education lessons.

“One major goal of the lesson plans,” Liz says, “was to get participants to think about what a personal land ethic would look like for them. Land ethics shape how we act daily in relation to the natural world, and it has been amazing to watch the participants form their own while on the preserves. Readings from Aldo Leopold’s Sand County Almanac and Robin Wall Kimmerer’s Braiding Sweetgrass provided lots of inspiration and food for thoughtful discussion.”

Liz has also been busy building partnerships with schools, teachers, and administrators with the intention of expanding SJPT’s environmental education programs during the school year ahead. We are grateful to The Dean Witter Foundation for their help in supporting these efforts.