Written by Heather Cole
Puget Sound community relations manager for The Nature Conservancy Washington Chapter
A blissful night of smiles, awards, good food and inspiring words was the theme last Thursday for the Snohomish Conservation District 75th Anniversary Better Ground Showcase. Inside the Mukilteo Rosehill community center, which overlooks Puget Sound, were the Snohomish Conservation District’s (SCD) closest 250 friends, partners and leaders — all have contributed to improving the Puget Sound region through sustainable actions that conserve land, water, forests and wildlife.
Over the past 75 years, the SCD has worked with thousands of stakeholders — from apartment dwellers to commercial farmers to everyone in between. The turnout for the event was evidence of the SCD’s quality of work, the community trust it has built and its future vision to innovate and push the status quo.
Jessie Israel, our Puget Sound conservation director, was honored to accept TNC’s “Conservation Partner of the Year” award. Monte Marti, event host and the SCD's district manager, explained the reasoning for this non-traditional honor and partnership: “The Nature Conservancy has taken a very unique and creative approach to advance numerous place-based conservation projects and initiatives in Puget Sound. They have recognized the value and need for local place-based activities and the critical role of local partners and champions. They have demonstrated that it is more valuable to support and guide than to impose their will on a local effort. This type of approach takes a unique style of leadership and a tremendous amount a courage, patience and listening.”
Other notable awards that were presented at the event were: Boeing as “Conservation Business of the Year," Ron Shultz, of the Washington State Conservation Commission, as another “Conservation Partner of the Year," TNC board member Greg Moga and organic farmer and local leader Tristan Klesick as “Conservation Leaders of the Year."
This night was not only about the awards; it also gave us a glimpse of the local young leaders who are doing outstanding work in the field of conservation. Lorenzo Rohani, a 17-year-old high-school student, captured our hearts with his keynote address on birds. (I also later learned that he published his first book on backyard birds at age 13!)
The things all 250 people had in common on this night were the passion and fortitude to carry this important work forward for another 75 years.
Thank you to the Snohomish Conservation District for creating an inspiring and wonderful night!