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Nisqually Reach Nature Center

For more than 30 years, the Nisqually Reach Nature Center has offered environmental education to thousands of youth and young adults at Luhr Beach in Olympia, Washington, and in the classroom. The Center provides field trip opportunities, supplemental classroom activities and summer camps, all aimed at sharing the beauty and uniqueness of the Nisqually Estuary and learning the values of conservation, particularly with regard to South Puget Sound. The Center has four salt-water tidal aquariums filled with crabs, sea stars, anemones and other marine animals that live in the waters of South Puget Sound.

Volunteer Opportunities:

Do you want to know how you can become involved with our organization? We can always use help! Our volunteer opportunities include:

  • Staff volunteers for the Nature Center
  • Environmental Educators to assist with school groups and field trips
  • Aquatic Reserve Citizen Stewardship Committee
  • Special Projects

Visit our website to learn more!

Nisqually Reach Nature Center

4949 D’Milluhr Dr. NE

Olympia, WA 98516

(360) 459-0387


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South Sound GREEN

South Sound GREEN (Global Rivers Environmental Education Network) has over 20 years experience providing comprehensive watershed education for teachers and students. The program works with grades 4-12 in the Olympia, North Thurston, Tumwater, Griffin, and Rainier school districts, as well as students in private schools, home schools, and local colleges and universities.

Taking an interdisciplinary approach, students monitor water quality and benthic macroinvertebrates while learning about historical and current land use to evaluate the health of their watershed. Students conduct action projects, including invasive species removal, native planting projects, and more. Students chosen as delegates take their findings to the annual Student GREEN Congress.

South Sound GREEN provides field trips to local South Puget Sound shorelines for participating students to explore marine creatures, food webs, habitats, and how humans impact water quality and local industries such as shellfish farming. Participating teachers receive water quality testing supplies, field trip funding, and ongoing support in integrating watershed education into their curriculum. We offer teacher professional development through our annual Summer Institute for Teachers in late June, and ongoing climate science education throughout the school year.

Stephanie Bishop
Program Coordinator
360-754-3588 ext. 108

Clear Choices For Clean Water

Clear Choices for Clean Water is funded by the Henderson Inlet and Nisqually Reach Shellfish Protection Districts. This program is part of educational outreach efforts to help restore and protect water quality and shellfish tidelands. Even if you don’t eat, grow, or harvest shellfish, water quality affects you. When shellfish grown in clean water can again be safely harvested in our watersheds, we’ll know our actions are making a difference!

Henderson and Nisqually Shellfish Protection District residents and property owners are eligible to earn the free rewards offered in this booklet. Choose from plants, tools, advice, and discounts worth up to $300!

Current Rewards Include:

  • FREE native plants
  • FREE compost
  • FREE fertilizer
  • FREE soil test
  • FREE dog leash bag dispenser
  • $25 rebate for septic pumping



Sadie Gilliom, Education Assistant

Thurston Conservation District

(360) 754-3588 ext. 118 or


Jennifer Johnson, Environmental Educator

Thurston County Environmental Health

(360) 867-2577 or

Puget Sound Estuarium

The South Sound Estuary Association’s (SSEA) Estuarium is a marine life discovery center featuring aquariums, interactive activities, and interpretive exhibits. It’s a great place to visit for all ages. See our website for hours and admission information.

Our Exhibits:

  • Aquariums featuring an amazing diversity of animals from intertidal, subtidal environments in South Puget Sound.
  • Preserved specimens from the depths of Puget Sound.
  • Video Programming features an exciting array of short videos from local organizations and projects.
  • Hands on Exhibits include the “Web of Life”, microscopes, coloring, puzzles, and aquarium activities. While not ideal for very young children, hands on activities at the Estuarium are great for school age children.
  • Interpretive Exhibits are highly educational on a variety of subjects relating to South Puget Sound ecology, geology, restoration, and recreation.
  • The Community Billboard connects visitors to upcoming opportunities beyond the Estuarium to enjoy and protect Puget Sound.

Volunteer Opportunities:

We operate the Estuarium largely using volunteers as docents and as marine educators. If you are interested in volunteering fill out a volunteer form on our website.

309 State Ave. NE
Olympia, WA 98501
(360) 915-0773


WET Science Center

The WET (Water Education & Technology) Science Center in Olympia, WA is a fun, hands-on place to learn all about water – our most precious resource. It’s always free to visit and features interactive exhibits, weekend family activities, tours, and school programs. School programs are for 5th grade students and older.

Interactive exhibits
There are a variety of games and activities for all ages, although most are designed for older children ages 10 and up, as well as adults. An optional scavenger hunt guides visitors through eight stations of exploration and earns you a prize. Exhibits and interactive video games include information about:

  • The natural and built water cycle, water use, and water conservation.
  • Wastewater treatment, including the role of bacteria in the nitrogen removal process.
  • What not to flush or put down the drain.
  • Production and use of Class A Reclaimed Water.
  • Career opportunities at LOTT Clean Water Alliance.
  • Stewardship of the Puget Sound.

Presentations, Field Trips, and Tours
Presentations and tours are designed for 5th grade students and older, and must be pre-arranged. Presentation length and content can be modified to best meet the needs of the group. All presentations support the Next Generation Science Standards. See the Education Menu for options and full program descriptions.

Internships, Volunteering, Job Shadows
We offer opportunities to serve as a volunteer, intern, or participate in a job shadow experience. Volunteers and interns assist with our school and community education programs. If you have an interest in helping our community learn about water, get in contact with us!

LOTT Clean Water Alliance

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YouTube Channel

South Puget Sound Envirothon

The Thurston Conservation District hosts the South Puget Sound Regional Envirothon competition annually in May. Teams of students from schools and clubs throughout a six county region come to compete in a variety of natural resource fields: aquatics, fish and wildlife, forestry, soils and give an oral presentation on that year’s current environmental issue. Winners from this competition advance to the Washington State Envirothon, which rotates throughout Washington, and eventually to the Canon Envirothon, spanning all of North America!

Teams from Grays Harbor, Kitsap, Lewis, Mason, Pierce and Thurston counties are eligible to compete in this regional event. Other regional competitions take place all across the state – to find out which regional your team is eligible for, visit

To register your team or find out more information about the South Puget Sound Regional Envirothon, contact:

Sarah Moorehead
Agricultural Outreach Specialist
Thurston Conservation District
(360) 754 – 3588 Ext. 136

Mount2Sound Adventures

Looking for an unforgettable summer? Mount2Sound Adventures is a summer camp is an extended stay youth camp focused on educating youth ages 12-17 through their connection with the natural world. Participants are exposed to a variety of activities and natural resource career fields: agriculture and aquaculture, aquatics, fish and wildlife, forestry, soils, education, leadership, geology, research and community service.

Mount2Sound (M2S) desires to leave a legacy of stewardship, community involvement, and a strong connection to the natural world in every participant of the program. To achieve its mission, M2S will partner with local tribes, agencies, non-profit organizations, local businesses and corporations. Diverse partnerships will bring well rounded historical, cultural and scientific perspectives to our outdoor education curriculum.

‘Getting back to nature’ is a trend among our society today throughout various age groups and M2S strives to provide the connection many young adults and families are looking for. Transformation and learning are gradual processes that involve a great deal of focus, where the overstimulation of today’s society is often distracting. Removing many of these barriers will allow participants to grow and strengthen the values and ethics learned this experience.

M2S seeks to encourage middle to high school participants from diverse cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds to engage in this experience, share and learn together. It is a core value of the program to serve participants despite their family’s financial situation. M2S intends to offer scholarships to underserved populations in hopes of never having to turn down a participant based on economic status. M2S embraces diversity and strives to foster essential leadership skills to empower participants from all walks of life to become outstanding environmental stewards in their communities.


Sarah Moorehead
Agricultural Outreach Specialist
Thurston Conservation District
(360) 754 – 3588 Ext. 136


The Nisqually River Education Project

Nisqually River Education Project offers hands-on environmental service-learning to students grades 4-12. Schools in Thurston County, North Thurston Public Schools, Wa He Lut Indian School, and Yelm Community Schools may be eligible for participation.

We offer:

  • Bi-annual water quality monitoring field trips.
  • Eye on Nature field trips to the Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge.
  • Habitat restoration work-revegetation, invasive species removal, salmon carcass tossing, etc.
  • Annual Student Congress with 400 students from 40+ schools around South Puget Sound to analyze watershed health and learn new skills.
  • Annual Summer Teachers Institute with clock hours, stipends, curriculum resources and networking with community professionals.
  • Logistical support for community service and education outreach projects.
  • Ongoing teacher training and resource sharing.
  • Funding for field trips and water quality monitoring equipment.


Sheila Wilson
360-561 0203

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Nisqually Stream Stewards

Although the Nisqually River Watershed is blessed with a significant amount of good salmon habitat, there are still some areas in need of restoration. The Nisqually Tribe and the Nisqually River Council recognize that true long-lasting restoration and protection of salmon habitat will come about only through a community-based effort.

The Nisqually Stream Stewards are people who want to help protect and improve the health of our streams. The Stream Stewards are trained as citizen scientists, and provide invaluable information for natural resources professionals.

Nisqually Stream Stewards meet community members and natural resources professionals; monitor the health of their local streams; and assist with projects that improve stream health, such as removing invasive grass from stream channels or planting trees along stream banks.

Volunteer Opportunities:

  • Stream Stewards Class
  • Salmon Watcher Training
  • Planting Projects
  • Salmon Carcass Tossing

Nisqually Stream Stewards
(360) 438-8715
Stream Stewards Website

Billy Frank Jr. Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge

The Billy Frank Jr. Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge is managed by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and provides numerous recreation opportunities to thousands of visitors every year. Whether boating, walking the trails, or participating in educational programs, visitors enjoy viewing the unique ecosystems and diverse wildlife. Regulation of recreation activities allow for public enjoyment of the refuge while still protecting the wildlife and habitats. The Nisqually estuary was restored in 2009 by removing dikes and reconnecting 762 acres with the tides of Puget Sound. This is the largest estuary restoration project in the Pacific Northwest and an important step in the recovery of Puget Sound. Many visitors, especially birders and boaters, have found that it is best to plan a visit to the Refuge according to the tides. The highest concentrations of the estuarine bird species will be most visible within two hours of high tide. The Visitor Center includes The Nature Shop, an information desk, a view of the freshwater marsh, and interpretive exhibits.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge Complex needs YOU – your talents, your enthusiasm, and some of your time! If you enjoy working with people and appreciate and are concerned about our nation’s natural resources, our volunteer program may interest you. Various opportunities exist at the Nisqually Wildlife Refuge Complex for volunteers to gain a valuable and rewarding experience. Volunteers assist Refuge personnel in achieving management goals by assisting in: interpretation, environmental education, resource managment, maintenance and special projects. For more information on becoming a volunteer visit Nisqually Wildlife Refuge’s volunteer website.

Friends Of Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge
Friends of Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization which helps fund education, interpretation, and outreach programs at Nisqually NWR. Membership in Friends of Nisqually NWR allows you to help with public education about important wildlife and habitat issues of Puget Sound and Nisqually National WIldlife Refuge. In addition, you receive:

  • A 10 percent discount at the Nature Shop in the Visitor Center.
  • A chance to become a participant in Refuge activities and make a practical contribution to the operation of Nisqually NWR.
  • A tax deduction for membership and contributions as permitted by law.


Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge
100 Brown Farm Road
Olympia, WA 98516
(360) 753-9467

Nisqually Wildlife Refuge Website
Facebook Page
Volunteer Website
Friends of Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge

Billy Frank Jr. Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge – Education Programs

Each year approximately 5,000 students, teachers, and group leaders visit the Billy Frank Jr. Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge (NWR). The Refuge offers an invaluable opportunity for students to experience and learn about the natural world. Are your students studying habitats, watersheds, birds, wildlife, estuaries, or wetlands? Then the Refuge is a great place to enhance your curriculum!

Educational resources include the Environmental Education Center where we conduct opening and closing sessions and a variety of age appropriate indoor lessons based on your course of study; four miles of trails, including the one-mile long Nisqually Estuary Boardwalk Trail; teacher training and resources; and field trip planning assistance that will help you to create a field trip experience that fits your curriculum goals. Field trips to the Refuge are great any time of year and are appropriate for pre-k through adults. Advanced reservations are required.

Visit the Education Page for more information on:

  • Field Trip Reservation Form
  • Field Trip Orientation
  • Elementary School Groups
  • Junior High and High School Groups
  • College Groups
  • Resources for Teachers
  • Educator’s Guide
  • FAQs


Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge
100 Brown Farm Rd, Olympia, WA 98516
Education Coordinator
(360) 753-9467

Nisqually NWR Education Page

Grays Harbor National Wildlife Refuge

Grays Harbor National Wildlife Refuge provides recreation opportunities to thousands of visitors every year. Shorebirds migrating from as far south as Argentina stop to rest and feed in Grays Harbor Estuary every spring. The estuary’s open mudflats provide ample food for the migrants and great wildlife viewing opportunities for the public. Whether birding, practicing photography, or participating in educational programs, visitors enjoy viewing the unique ecosystems and diverse wildlife. Regulation of recreation activities allows for public enjoyment of the refuge while still protecting the wildlife and habitats. Each spring, the annual Grays Harbor Shorebird Festival offers field trips, shorebird viewing, lectures, Fun Fair, poster contest, and more.

From late April through early May, hundreds of thousands of shorebirds concentrate on the muddy tideflats of Grays Harbor Estuary on the Washington Coast. Grays Harbor Estuary is one of four major staging areas for shorebirds in North America and one of the largest concentrations of shorebirds on the west coast, south of Alaska. To protect this important shorebird habitat, Congress authorized the establishment of Grays Harbor National Wildlife Refuge in 1988. Managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as part of the National Wildlife Refuge System, Grays Harbor NWR was established in 1990 and is located in the northeast corner of Grays Harbor estuary. It encompasses about 1,500 acres of intertidal mudflats, salt marsh and uplands. In 1996, Grays Harbor Estuary was designated a hemispheric reserve by the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network as a site of international significance.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at Grays Harbor National Wildlife Refuge needs YOU – your talents, your enthusiasm, and some of your time! If you enjoy working with people and appreciate and are concerned about our nation’s natural resources, our volunteer program may interest you. Various opportunities exist at the Refuge for the volunteer to gain valuable and rewarding experience. Volunteers assist Refuge personnel in achieving management goals by assisting in environmental education, resource management, maintenance, and special projects. For more information and to fill out an application visit the volunteer page.

Grays Harbor National Wildlife Refuge

1131 Airport Way, Hoquiam, WA 98550

100 Brown Farm Road, Olympia, WA 98516 (mailing address)

(360) 753-9467

Nisqually NWR Website
Volunteer Page
Shorebird Festival Website
Facebook – Shorebird Festival