Environmental Heroes 2021 Awards: with Rep. Debra Lekanoff and WA State Poet Laureate Rena Priest

A virtual celebration of our region’s environmental champions, and a benefit for RE Sources. Wednesday, June 9th, 5:30 - 6:30 p.m.

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An online fundraiser & celebration featuring  Rep. Debra Lekanoff & Washington State Poet Laureate Rena Priest
Wednesday, June 9th, 5:30 – 6:30 p.m.


Thank you to all those who attended Environmental Heroes 2021.

Check out our Event Recap for a recording of the event. It’s not too late to make a gift!

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The central Salish Sea region is a place unlike any other. It is a tapestry of diverse ecosystems and varied communities woven together, creating an unmistakable landscape. From windswept mountain alpine to vibrant seabeds, this place embodies some of the greatest wonder the Pacific Northwest has to offer. Every year, we celebrate outstanding members of the community who have been vital in protecting this place we love.

This year, we invite you to join us for a virtual night of powerful stories from our 2021 Environmental Heroes, three passionate defenders of our region’s natural resources, iconic species and vibrant communities. Garner inspiration from Heroes Darrell Hillaire, Mary Ruth Holder and London Fletcher, as well as from keynote speaker Rep. Debra Lekanoff, and help raise critical funds for local climate and environmental action. Also joining us is Washington State Poet Laureate Rena Priest.


Meet our 2021 Heroes

Darrell Hillaire: Lummi Nation leader, storyteller and tribal youth advocate

Darrell has served as a coach, mentor, teacher, speaker, and leader for the Lummi Nation for more than thirty years. He is currently Executive Director of Children of the Setting Sun Productions, leading storytelling projects based upon relationships with many elders and community leaders both regionally and nationally.

Darrell has served on many community boards, as well as on the Lummi Indian Business Council in various capacities, including Chair, for over 15 years. As Chair, he provided oversight and guided the development of the Northwest Indian College Campus, Silver Reef Casino, and K-12 Lummi Nation School. Darrell went on to work toward strengthening the wellness of tribal youth as founder of the visionary Lummi Youth Academy.

Darrell has been widely recognized for his impact as a peacemaker, bridge builder, and culture bearer, both as a representative of Lummi Nation, and as a regional and national leader. Over the years Darrell has frequently spoken to the public on behalf of his community, and continues to provide strategic guidance to tribal and other community leaders on key issues of the day such as: salmon recovery, economic development, sovereignty, and tribal governance.


Mary Ruth Holder: Skagit environmental champion and refinery safety advocate

Mary Ruth Holder has spent much of her life engaged in protecting the environment around her. She grew up in Louisiana and credits her mother with teaching her respect for the natural world and its creatures.

After getting a law degree at UT Austin, Mary Ruth worked for the Texas Attorney General. Her work included enforcing state air and water quality laws, supporting environmental groups in a case to stop destruction of endangered bird habitat in Texas’ National Forests, and bringing lawsuits to ensure that low-income people living in Rio Grande Valley colonias had safe drinking water. Mary Ruth next worked for the Texas environmental agency as director of its legal division.

After leaving state government, Mary Ruth worked on projects for national and local environmental groups. She served on Austin’s Environmental Board and volunteered in city preserves monitoring endangered birds, salamanders and plants.

When she retired to Skagit Valley, Mary Ruth drew on her background to work as a volunteer, helping protect the Salish Sea, its communities and wildlife. Among other things, she helped mobilize Skagit Valley residents, NGOs, businesses and elected officials to make public comments opposing the proposed Gateway coal export terminal. Similarly, Mary Ruth helped with opposition to dangerous oil-by-rail projects. For five years, she has represented Evergreen Islands advocating for strong safety management regulations to protect workers, nearby communities and the Salish Sea from refinery explosions, fires and toxic air contaminant releases.


London Fletcher: Southern Resident orca researcher and advocate

London is a 13-year-old who has been an advocate on behalf of the planet for the past 7 years. During this time, she has focused her efforts particularly on the ongoing plight of endangered Southern Resident Killer Whales (SRKW). She has continued to be a very vocal advocate for the SRKWs over the years, attending rallies and speaking on behalf of the orcas at events all over Washington State. In 2019 London formed her own nonprofit research organization called Aquatic Research Conservancy, alongside Dr. Ingrid Visser, dedicated to education and the protection of marine inhabitants and their habitats. She is also a research assistant at the Orca Research Trust in New Zealand and the youngest member of the Society for Marine Mammalogy. As a spokesperson for the generation that is going to inherit the choices policymakers make today, London has made it her mission to do whatever she can to advocate for the Southern Residents and the ecosystem that they call home, fighting for the rights and protection of both captive and wild killer whales. Although London is most well-known for her compelling speeches, she is also very passionate about becoming a researcher. She is already a published author in the field of Marine Biology for the work she did during her internship at the Orca Research Trust during the austral winter of 2017.

These Environmental Heroes have accomplished inspiring feats and we come together to celebrate their extraordinary commitment to protecting the lands and waters that we all depend on. This magical event raises critical funds for RE Sources to continue fighting for climate action and environmental actions, while also reinforcing the collective power of peers and friends to build a healthy, prosperous and sustainable future for all.

Our Environmental Heroes event is held annually and Heroes are selected in the spring of each year. The event is sponsored by generous businesses and individuals who are dedicated to the well-being of our region.

Can’t make it to the event? We understand. If you’d like, you can make a donation to support our work.

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Each year, RE Sources celebrates local leaders who make our communities and environment healthier and inspire others to do the same.

  • Executive Director Shannon Wright opens the award ceremony with a message of hope. Hear her message. 
  • 2019 award recipient Rosalinda Guillén, farmworker justice leader and food system activist with Community to Community Development, accepts her award with a few words. See her speech. 
  • 2019 award recipient Rachel Vasak, salmon steward and community builder with Nooksack Salmon Enhancement Association, accepts her award with a few words. Listen to her remarks.
  • 2019 award recipient Steve Garey, labor rights advocate and clean energy champion, accepts his award with a few words. See his speech. 

2019 – Rosalinda Guillén, Steve Garey, and Rachel Vasak.
– Carl Weimer and Crina Hoyer
2017 – Bob Aegerter, Dena Jensen, Ellie Kinley, Sandy Robson, and Jeremy Freimund, In Memoriam
2016 – The People and Communities of the Salish Sea: tribes, doctors, decision-makers, fishermen, religious groups, students, national organizations, ranchers, grassroots community groups, and people across the region who came together to defeat the Gateway Pacific coal terminal
2015 – Chris Moench, Eric Hirst, Larry McCarter of RDS, Pete Haase, and Sue Taylor
2014 – Martha Bray, Fred Felleman, Aimee Frazier, Mitch Friedman, and Duane Jager
2013 – Charlie Maliszewski, Alex Ramel, Jean Melious, Seth Fleetwood, Dan McShane, and Sharon Roy, and Saul Weisberg
2011 – John Davies, Marie Hitchman, Bill Dietrich, Robyn du Pre, Gerald Larson, and Bellingham Food Bank
2010 – Jim Hansen, Sally Hewitt, David Ostlund, Kelli Finet, and Jenessa Moore, Laurie Caskey-Schreiber, and Dan Warner
2009 – Barry Wenger, Kyle Morris, Gordon Scott, David MacLeod, and Mike and Elaine McRory
2008 – Al Hanners, Roberta Vollendorff, Donna Merlina, Jim Edwards, and Tim Wahl
2007 – Russell Ford, Mark Ritter, Louise Bjornson, Harriet Spanel, Jeff Daffron, Alan Weydert, Carol Rondello, Colleen Berg, Jeff Brown, Paul Schissler, Martin Passmore, Bill Sterling, Stephen Frank, Dennis Smith-WWU, Jim Schuster-WWU, Northwest Clean Air Agency, City of Bellingham, Whatcom County, WA Department of Ecology, Sanitary Service Company, Northwest Recycling, Brown & Cole Inc., Jack Weiss, Carl Weimer, Lisa Friend
2006 – Bert and Sue Webber, Patricia Otto, Scott Delbecq, Veronica Wisniewski, Derek and Michelle Long, Marian Beddill, Sarah Wheatley, Katy Scherrer, and John Miles
2005 – Wendy Walker, Wendy Scherrer, The Vander Haak Dairy, John Blethen, Doug Clark, Hilda Bajema
2004 – Joy Monjure, Sherilyn Wells, Community Food Co-op, Dorri Belisle, Rand Jack, Bob Keller, George and Lois Garlick, and Lou Parberry Sr.
2003 – Don Shepard, Bruce Barbour, Michael Cochrane, A-1 Builders, Frank and Mary King, Marlene Robinson and Bruce Brabec, Katherine Dalen and Skip Williams, and Geoff Menzies

Special thanks to our generous sponsors:

Interested in sponsoring this year’s event? Download our sponsor prospectus.  To sponsor or learn more, contact Julia Spencer at 360-733-8307 x221 or julias@re-sources.org











The Washington State Poet Laureate program is sponsored by: 



Photos in background: David Inscho (mountain) and Brett Baunton/Wild Nooksack (river and salmon cutout)