Sound Water Stewards (SWS) of Island County is a nonprofit organization in the Camano and Whidbey Islands of Washington focused on the conservation of the Salish Sea and its marine and nearshore environments. Every year, the nonprofit hosts its Sound Waters University fundraiser and educational outreach event on the first Saturday in February, followed by weekly field trips related to the event. This year marks the fundraiser’s 30th anniversary, and will be held on Feb. 3, with field trips occurring on Feb. 4, 10, 12, and 17.
“Sound Waters University is the largest educational and outreach event and the largest annual fundraiser of Sound Water Stewards,” says Tabitha Jacobs-Mangiafico, Whidbey coordinator for the SWS of Island County. She manages and fosters relationships with volunteers along with local, state, and federal partnerships to support community science, education and outreach, and stewardship in and around the county. In regard to Sound Waters University, she adds, “We are able to offer a weekend of classes, workshops, and field trips thanks to our partners, sponsors, presenters, volunteers, and staff support.”
All the related classes and events for Sound Waters University on Feb. 3 will be held at Coupeville High School in Coupeville, Washington, from 7:45 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Content will be focused on the Salish Sea, its ecosystems, and its conservation. There will be a total of 30 classes available to choose from, ranging from topics like sunflower Sea Star Wasting Syndrome and sharks of the Salish Sea, to the invasive European green crab and sustainable water resources management. Planners hosting groups in the area can consider bringing attendees in for a bit of education, or even add a field trip to the itinerary to get attendees into hands-on work.
“If you’re looking for even more immersive experiences, university conference attendees can add on field trips to learn about nearshore, restoration and habitat management for salmon, and look at bluffs and beaches of Whidbey Island,” says Jacobs-Mangiafico. This is also the first year the event will be held in person, having previously been only offered virtually on Zoom due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The purpose of the university is to “inspire, engage, and connect community members with local, state, and federal partners,” says Jacobs-Mangiafico. “To ignite curiosity and make a positive difference in the Salish Sea.”