Maya Heikkinen | Three Ponies Photography; Catherine Houck | Staff archive

Each year, the Preservation Trust’s staff selects a volunteer whose efforts exemplify the best qualities of all our valued volunteers—cheerful dedication and diligence in advancing SJPT’s mission. We added a youth category this year, so congratulations to both of our 2019-20 Volunteers of the Year!

Maya Heikkinen, a 2020 graduate of Orcas Island High School, served as our Preserve Steward during this past school year at two small Preservation Trust properties, the Reddick and Martin Preserves on Orcas Island. In all kinds of weather, Maya walks or bikes to both preserves, helping us care for them and expanding our knowledge of the resident plants and animals. She based her OIHS Senior Project on what she learned as a Preserve Steward. We wish Maya all the best as she heads to Middlebury College this fall.

Catherine Houck journeys each month from her home in Anacortes to Graham Preserve on Shaw Island, where she has served as volunteer Preserve Steward for three years. She’s grown accustomed to the curious glances and comments she receives on the ferry when people notice a weed whacker strapped to her bicycle. Her diligent efforts have made visible differences—for example, transforming a large patch of bull thistles into a lush bed of native gourds. “It’s so great, especially right now,” Catherine says, “to see and feel hope in nature—and to get some fresh air and exercise!”

Meet them both in this brief video.