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May 31, 2016: RE Sources for Sustainable Communities provides free training to aspiring citizen scientists

posted Aug 18, 2016, 1:22 PM by Unknown user   [ updated Dec 24, 2016, 12:06 PM by RE Sources for Sustainable Communities ]
Volunteers learn about beach ecosystems and participate in scientific research for Puget Sound health. 

The public is invited to participate in free training sessions from expert marine biologists to identify and collect data on species found on local beaches in Whatcom and Skagit counties. The research conducted by trained citizen scientists will contribute to the understanding of the health of Puget Sound waters and the trends that impact it.

There are two separate training sessions: one in Whatcom County and one in Skagit County. The Whatcom County training session is Tuesday, April 5, from 6 – 8 pm at RE Sources Sustainable Living Center and Sunday, April 10, from 9 am – 12 pm at Fairhaven Library, followed by an afternoon field session from 12 pm – 3 pm at Marine Park. 

The Skagit County training session is Saturday, April 9, from 9 am – 12 pm at Fidalgo Bay Resort, followed by an afternoon field session from 12 pm – 3 pm at Fidalgo Bay Resort. This training session is part of the Salish Sea Stewards Program. 

Participants are required to attend at least one in-class training session and the field session. The training sessions are all ages and family friendly, with adult supervision.

During the in-class training session and three-hour field training, participants will learn how to identify, count and estimate plant and animal species in the intertidal zone, which is the area above water at low tide and under water at high tide. This information can be useful for the informal naturalist who loves the beach and wants to know more about the life found there, or for those who want to develop skills that will contribute to scientific research in the Puget Sound. Low-tide surveys will be conducted throughout the summer at the Cherry Point and Fidalgo Bay Aquatic Reserves.

Intertidal surveys take qualitative and quantitative measures of plant and animal life and describe the slope and sediment on the beach. The survey work performs a vital function to determine baseline information, monitor for invasive species, and detect changes in the makeup of species as conditions change. Conducting this work using trained citizen volunteers means that more sites can be monitored and that citizens can better appreciate the application of the scientific method and the beach around them.

Beach surveys are tentatively scheduled for: May 10, June 5, July 3 and July 5 at Cherry Point Aquatic Reserve in Whatcom County, and May 8, May 9, June 22, July 7, July 31, August 1 and August 2 at Fidalgo Bay Aquatic Reserve and other sites in Skagit County. Surveys typically take four hours.

The surveys are sponsored by Citizen Stewardship Committees at Cherry Point and Fidalgo Bay Aquatic Reserves, Coastal Volunteer Partnership at Padilla Bay, Skagit County Marine Resources Committee, Northwest Straits Foundation and Northwest Straits Commission. Trainings and surveys are conducted by RE Sources for Sustainable Communities, with assistance from volunteer experts and others.

More information and directions can be found at

Whatcom County
  • Classroom session: Tuesday, April 5, 6pm – 8pm, RE Sources Sustainable Living Center, 2309 Meridian St., Bellingham 
  • Classroom session: Sunday, April 10, 9am – 12pm, Fairhaven Library, 1117 12th St., Bellingham 
  • Field session: Sunday, April 10, 12pm – 3pm, Marine Park, Bellingham 
  • To register in Whatcom County, email Eleanor at or call 360-733-8307. RSVP is preferred, but not required. 
Skagit County
  • Classroom session: Saturday, April 9, 9am – 12pm, Fidalgo Bay Resort, 4701 Fidalgo Bay Rd, Anacortes 
  • Field session: Saturday, April 9, 12pm – 3pm Fidalgo Bay Resort, 4701 Fidalgo Bay Rd, Anacortes 
  • To register in Skagit County, email Samantha at or call 360-428-1559. RSVP is preferred, but not required.
Media contact: Eleanor Hines, Lead Scientist, Clean Water Program,, 360-733-8307 ext. 213