Written by Tammy Kennon
Photographed by Hannah Letinich, Volunteer Photo Editor
Emily Howe remembers a time when there were so many salmon, “they would bump your ankles. You could pet them!”
Emily, the Washington Nature Conservancy’s newest staff member, saw those fin-to-fin salmon as a child while camping with her family at Lake Wenatchee on the east side of the Cascades. But over the years as her family returned to the same stream, she watched those salmon dwindle, a firsthand observation of how humans impact the environment that launched a career.
After completing a biology degree at Vermont’s Middlebury College, she continued her education at the University of Washington, Seattle, earning an M.S. and a Ph.D. in Aquatic and Fishery Science.
To add real life experience to her education, Emily studied abroad in the San Blas Islands, off the Caribbean coast of Panama, and in Tanzania, an opportunity to “further how we think about land and people.”
“You can’t leave the people out; you have to integrate them,” Emily says. “We’re trying to figure out how to transform our daily lives to include nature, to offer natural solutions. We don’t have to have a negative impact. It can positive.”
In her new role as Aquatic Ecologist, Emily has come full circle. She will focus on salmon recovery, measuring the success of Nature Conservancy land and freshwater restoration efforts.
“We’re trying to get back to a system that works and functions more naturally,” Emily says. “Sometimes that’s building something that works like nature does.”
The Nature Conservancy efforts include rebuilding logjams to restore ecological processes in streams and bringing clear cut slopes back to their critical and natural place in the ecosystem.
Emily lives in Seattle with her husband and two children, 2 and 5 years old. They go camping, hiking, biking, clam digging, and other outdoor pursuits, “trying to get as dirty as we can.”