VIEWPOINT – Jul 2016 – Tess Cooper – Whidbey ECO Net Changes With the Seasons

tessSummer is here; the days are long and the weather is amazing! It is hard not to get out and enjoy the beautiful, natural wonders that Whidbey Island has to offer us. The change in season is always my favorite part of the year. It doesn’t matter which season, the end of one chapter and the fresh beginning of a new is always exhilarating to me. The Whidbey ECO Network finds itself in the middle of a change in season as well. An old chapter is coming to an end and a new chapter is on the horizon.

Whidbey ECO Network (ECO Net) is an umbrella network made up of members from many local organizations and individuals dedicated to protecting the environment and recovering the vital functions of Puget Sound. “ECO” stands for Education, Communication, and Outreach. Through their combined efforts the members of ECO Net reach out and affect change within our local community in many ways. Through forest planning, manure management, water quality monitoring, shoreline restoration, salmon recovery, outdoor education and special events, we promote good stewardship of our land and waters.

Some of our most notable accomplishments over the past few years include the Earth Day Green Career Fair at South Whidbey High School; a Social Marketing Project with Livestock Owners in Maxwelton Valley; K-12 Educator Involvement and Alignment with Next Generation Science Standards, planning and participation in Whidbey Earth and Ocean Month; Science While Sipping/Pub Talks; as well as many training and professional development opportunities for our members in topics such as social marketing, volunteer management, project design & evaluation, and how to use social media to promote your organization.

Previously, funding and support for ECO Net was provided by the Puget Sound Partnership, a State agency that was formed to protect Puget Sound, however due to funding changes this relationship was terminated on June 30th, 2016. The good news is that the ECO Net members are dedicated to providing these services to our community and have vowed to preserve the Whidbey ECO Network organization! Yes, we will continue to work together as environmental stewards of this great Island. So keep an eye out for us! We will be working in the coming months to locate new funding sources, strengthen our mission and vision as an independent organization, and recruit new members to help sustain our efforts! We urge you to become involved – Visit our website and Calendar of Events at http://whidbey-eco.net/.

Please join me, as we close the old chapter, in extending sincere gratitude to the Puget Sound Partnership for the amazing opportunities and support they provided us over the years; and, to Justin Burnett of Whidbey News Group for the chance to share our organization with the community through this monthly column.

And lastly, an enthusiastic round of applause to Susie Richards, our fearless leader and dedicated ECO Net Coordinator for the past two years! As I take over leadership of Whidbey ECO Net I look forward to all of the exciting new adventures and partnerships that will come our way. The new chapter will begin in the fall with our regularly scheduled meeting at the Pacific Rim Institute. Please feel free to contact me Tess Cooper, the next ECO Net Coordinator, with questions or for information about Whidbey ECO Net at whidbey.econet@gmail.com.