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

NRNC@NisquallyEstuary.org

Website

Facebook Page

South Sound GREEN

South Sound Green (Global Rivers Environmental Education Network)

South Sound GREEN has provided comprehensive watershed education for teachers and students in Thurston County since 1992. The program works with 4th-12th grade students 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. South Sound GREEN is based within the Thurston Conservation District.

Educational Programs

  • Water Quality Monitoring
  • Nearshore Field Experiences
  • Action/Restoration Projects (including removing invasive species and planting native plants)
  • Student GREEN Congress (annual event coordinated with the Nisqually River Education Program)
  • Classroom Watershed Demonstrations and Salmon Dissections
  • Guided Salmon Spawning Field Experiences

Professional Development/Teacher Support:

Teachers who participate in our programs can 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, as well as other climate science education workshops and trainings throughout the school year.

Volunteer Opportunities:

We are always looking for volunteers to help with field experiences and Student GREEN Congress. If you are interested in helping us out, please send an email to Stephanie Bishop.

Contact:
Stephanie Bishop, Program Manager
360-754-3588 ext. 108
Email
Website
Instagram

WET Science Center

The WET Science Center is a fun, hands-on place to learn all about water. It is a part of LOTT Clean Water Alliance, a nonprofit corporation providing wastewater management services for the urban areas of Lacey, Olympia, and Tumwater. It’s free to visit and features interactive exhibits, family-friendly Saturday programs, wastewater treatment plant tours, and educational programs.

Exhibits
There are a variety of games and activities for all ages. Try an optional scavenger hunt to navigate through the science center. Information includes:

  • 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.
  • Clean water careers.

Educational Programs
Programs are designed for students 5th grade and older. Programs are typically two hours long, and feature a presentation, a tour of the wastewater treatment plant or green-designed building, and time to explore the science center. All presentations align with Next Generation Science Standards.

Volunteer and Internship Opportunities
We offer volunteer opportunities assisting with our Saturday and community education programs. The positions can be designed to fit individual needs.

Contact:
WET Science Center
360-664-2333
Email

Website
Facebook Page

Thurston Conservation District

Thurston Conservation District, a non-regulatory agency, strives to conserve and sustain the beneficial use and protection of local natural resources through partnerships with the County’s rural, agricultural, and urban communities, as well as local, state, federal, and tribal agencies. Our vision is to create healthy, functioning ecosystems in Thurston County through advocacy, education, and technical assistance efforts; thereby empowering every citizen of Thurston County to be a steward of the environment.

Educational Programs

  • South Puget Sound Envirothon – An environmental competition for high school aged youth
  • South Sound Green
  • Workshops
  • Native Plant Festival & Sale
  • Technical assistance

Volunteer & Internship Opportunities

  • Internships
  • Work parties
  • South Puget Sound Envirothon
  • Native Plant Festival

Other

  • Equipment Rentals
  • Soil Testing

Contact
Thurston Conservation District
Kiana Sinner
(360)754-3588 ext.105
Email
Website
Facebook

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.

Contact:

Sheila Wilson
360-561 0203
sheila@nisquallyriver.org

Website
Facebook Page

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

Contact:
Nisqually Stream Stewards
streamstewards@nisquallyriver.org
(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 allows 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.

Visit Us
Educational Facilities include the Refuge’s Environmental Education Center and four miles of flat boardwalk & gravel trails. The Environmental Education Center is open by appointment only. Educational groups Pre-K through college may request use of the Environmental Education Center and assistance from Refuge Educators.

Educational Programs
The Refuge’s Environmental Education Programming is designed to meet the needs of visiting groups. Please contact our education coordinator to plan your trip. Indoor activities cover a wide range of wildlife-related topics including:

  • Habitat
  • Animal Adaptations
  • Animal Tracks & Signs
  • Bird Identification
  • Developing Observation Skills
  • Citizen Science

Educator Training
Four field trip orientation workshops are conducted each year. We encourage all educators planning a trip to the Refuge to attend to get all the tools you need to confidently guide your students on a meaningful outdoor learning experience. You will be introduced to our hands-on indoor activities in our Environmental Education Center, hike the Twin Barns Loop Trail, and learn about one of the largest restoration projects in the Puget Sound! Refreshments will be provided. Dates can be found on the Refuge’s website.

Volunteer & Internship Opportunities
Volunteer & Internship Opportunities exist with the Refuge’s Environmental Education program as well as other programs at the Refuge. More than 42,000 people volunteer their time and ideas each year to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Whether they work on the land, in a visitor center, or with youth, they contribute to the conservation mission that reaches back more than a century. Become a volunteer to contribute your strength on behalf of America’s natural resources.

Contact:
Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge
100 Brown Farm Road
Olympia, WA 98516
(360) 753-9467
Nisquallyeducation@fws.gov
Website
Facebook

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.

Education Programs

  • Classroom Presentations
  • Field Trips
  • Education Guide
  • Teacher Training
  • Shorebird Festival Poster Contest

Volunteer
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 experiences. 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.

Contact
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
Education Program
Shorebird Festival Website
Facebook – Shorebird Festival

 

 

Thurston County Stream Team

If you enjoy rushing streams, clean air, the smell of rich soil on your hands and the camaraderie of other people who like to make a difference, then get involved with Stream Team!

Stream Team offers a fun and rewarding way to protect and improve local streams, rivers and Puget Sound. Volunteers of all ages and backgrounds can get involved. Love the outdoors? Join us at tree plantings or stream-bug monitoring sessions. Are you a bird watcher? Build a bird nest box, attend a shorebird field trip or help monitor purple martin nest boxes. If you enjoy talking with other people, you might want to become a Salmon Steward. Or perhaps you’d just like to attend workshops and learn more about what you can do to protect our water resources. Stream Team welcomes any level of involvement you choose to take.

Stream Team events are free and open to everyone. You can participate individually, or bring your family, friends or members of your community group.

Stream Team Website
Facebook Page

 

In Lacey Contact:
Emily Watts
ewatts@ci.lacey.wa.us or (360) 438-2687

 

In Olympia Contact:
Michelle Stevie
mstevie@ci.olympia.wa.us or (360) 753-8336

 

In Tumwater Contact:
Meridith Greer
mgreer@ci.tumwater.wa.us or (360) 754-4148

 

In Thurston County Contact:
Anne Marie Pearce
pearcea@co.thurston.wa.us or (360)754-3355 ext. 6857

Nisqually Reach Nature Center

Nisqually Reach Nature Center is a volunteer-run, membership-supported, nonprofit organization that promotes the understanding, appreciation, and conservation of the Nisqually Estuary through education, interpretation, and citizen science.

Visit Us
We have three awesome salt water aquariums in the Nature Center with a wide variety of species from South Puget Sound including sea stars, sea cucumbers, anemones, and much more. We’re open to the public Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday from 12pm-4pm. Other exhibits include over 30 bird taxidermies, fossils, animal pelts, and more.

Educational Programs
We encourage classroom teachers to bring their students to NRNC for activities and programs that will deepen understanding and awareness of the aquatic environment. Educational activities are available to all age groups, including preschool and up. Popular programs include fish seining surveys, crab surveys, and benthic invertebrate surveys.

  • Marine Science field trips: fish seining surveys, crab surveys, and benthic invertebrate surveys. Standard field trips are 2 hours. Field trips can be tailored to fit individual class needs.
  • Summer Marine Science day camps (ages 7-12)
  • Adventure Science camps (ages 12-17)

Volunteer & Internship Opportunities
NRNC has a large team of volunteer community stewards who help monitor the health of Puget Sound by participating in community-driven science research. Volunteers are the backbone of NRNC and many different opportunities exist to get involved.

We offer spring and summer volunteer internships in either environmental education or research and monitoring. Internships can be tailored to fit specific interests.

Contact:
Nisqually Reach Nature Center
360-459-0387
Email
Website
Facebook

Capitol Land Trust

Capitol Land Trust
Capitol Land Trust’s mission is to conserve essential natural areas and working farms in southwest Washington. Since 1987, we have grown from a volunteer organization to a professional and accredited land trust. With the help of our supporters and partners, we have successfully conserved over 6,000 acres of land on nearly 80 properties in Thurston, Mason, Grays Harbor, and Lewis counties. The land we conserve is protected forever.

Visit us
We have a small working office in Lacey, WA. We don’t offer any programs or exhibits at our office location. As of 2020, we have four preserves that are open for public use. If you plan a visit to one of our nature preserves, be sure to visit our website for the most current information. In general, our walking trails are mulched or dirt trails and vary in elevation and length. Walking on our trails, you’ll pass many Pacific Northwest ecosystems including wetlands, forests of varying ages, marine shoreline, open oak woodland, and fish-bearing streams. Please contact us if you plan to park a vehicle larger than a 12-passenger van on a property because some sites have space restrictions.

Educational Programs

  • Guided nature walks
  • Land Stewardship and Restoration – Learn how to identify native and invasive plant species and keep our ecosystems healthy. These activities include removing invasive species, planting native plant species, and addressing other needs the land may have.

Volunteer & Internship Opportunities
Volunteers are essential to our mission, and we strive to create a volunteer experience that is both meaningful and enjoyable. As a Capitol Land Trust volunteer, you further our mission by stewarding natural landscapes, educating the next generation, and connecting people with our conserved lands. With your help, our area continues to have thriving natural habitats and green spaces to enjoy.

  • Stewardship Work Parties – Weekly stewardship work parties occur year-round between October and July, and typically include activities like planting native plants, mulching, removing invasive species or debris, and maintaining trails.
  • Environmental Education – We work with several schools and youth-serving organizations to provide field experiences for youth on our conservation properties. Most of the activities that take place during these experiences are run by volunteers. We provide a volunteer training for our 7th grade field experience and our 3rd grade field experience.
  • Trail and Land Stewards – Trail Stewards and Land Stewards make sure our properties are safe and healthy!

Contact:

Capitol Land Trust
Mary Birchem
360-943-3012
mary@capitollandtrust.org
Website
Facebook Page

Olympia Park Parks Stewardship

The Park Stewardship Program hosts weekly, year-round volunteer work parties, family-friendly events, and environmental education programming designed around specific ages, curriculum, or interest. Our staff works primarily in City of Olympia parks, schools, and neighborhoods. Our mission is to help create meaningful experiences, particularly in parks.

Sample Activities

  • Junior Ranger Adventures
  • Earth Day Event
  • National Trails Day
  • Outreach at Arts Walk and other City events/festivals

Volunteer Opportunities:

Park Stewardship hosts weekly volunteer work parties all year. Our work parties are on our website. To inquire about planning a customized volunteer work party for your neighborhood, organization or school, please call 360.753.8365 or email us at . Depending on the season, the work parties revolve around habitat restoration, trail maintenance, invasive plant removal, and beautification projects.

City of Olympia Parks, Arts & Recreation
Jennifer Gessley Gayman
Email
Phone
Website