The project for consideration is a 2-week immersive, residential summer Ecology and Conservation program tailored specifically to engage and empower 8-9 high schoolers—nominated by Unleash the Brilliance, an organization designed “to help close the achievement gap for students at the risk of academic failure and keep them out of the school to prison pipeline”—who have exhibited exceptional environmental leadership in their home communities in the Green-Duwamish River watershed. Salish Sea Sciences respects the commitment demonstrated by these young people and intends to support and compound the sustainability of their efforts.
Salish Sea Sciences is situated on San Juan Island in the Salish Sea, where fresh water and shorelines are precious and where the severe losses of southern resident orca remind us we are at an ecological precipice. The location also is one of the world’s most biologically diverse and home to a constellation of organizations and individuals with extraordinary expertise in marine and environmental sciences as well as advocacy, policy and law, offering what the National Monument Declaration suggests: “a refuge of scientific and historic treasures and a classroom for generations.”
Salish Sea Sciences is thus positioned to expose students to the arc of environmental science, action, and career awareness, highlighting the Salish Sea as a giant estuarial system from the mountains to the Sound and Straits and drawing attention to the fluidity between research and mitigation efforts pursued here in microcosm with that of the Green-Duwamish Rivers. Students return home to their watershed with a renewed energy to engage, enabled with action plans, and equipped with new knowledge and skills to exert a positive effect. Students obtaining a sense of belonging and agency in a place they can fully appreciate as their own, in the company of a tight cohort, and among mentors representing multiple fields of expertise and experience is a powerful thing.