John Howell San Juan Island

John Howell has had a deep connection with the San Juan Islands for his entire life. His family has owned property on San Juan Island since 1945, and he has spent a great deal of time there over the years, even referring to the islands as his spiritual home. During his teenage years, John was fortunate enough to have landed a job with Charlie Chevalier (a member of Mitchell Bay Band of Indigenous San Juan Islanders) on his reef net gear on Stuart Island, which he says was the best job he has ever had. He enjoyed the adrenaline rush of being on top of the stand and seeing a large school of fish swimming towards the gear. As a boy, John would hunt rabbits by sitting on the front hood of his family’s Rambler station wagon and using a fish net.

John and his wife and son have also boated and cruised throughout the islands, visiting many of them. John’s sister lives in a house she and her husband built right next to the old family cabin, which John and his wife now own. John states that all of the San Juan Islands are special to him, and he has been aware of the good work of the Preservation Trust for many years. He served on the Board of the Cascade Land Conservancy (now called Forterra) for 20 years, where he learned the power of what a smart, visionary land trust can accomplish.

John has facilitated retreats for the San Juan County Conservation Land Bank for around 10 years and takes great pleasure in seeing what the Land Bank and the Preservation Trust have been able to accomplish, both together and separately. He hopes to continue to protect open spaces, forests, farms, cultural lands, and iconic landscapes that are so important to maintaining the character of the islands. John saw the power of creating trusting relationships with tribal communities in his work on the Burke Museum Board, and hopes to help forge stronger connections with native communities that have ancestral ties to the islands.

Having served on a number of boards over the past 30 years, John understands the role of board members and how a board can support the work of staff and advance the mission of an organization. As he approaches retirement, he is keen to spend his time working with the Preservation Trust to achieve its goals.