Whale Scout volunteer naturalists play a vital role in the recovery of endangered Southern Resident killer whales as outlined in the NOAA orca recovery plan. Volunteers facilitate land-based whale watching experiences offering the public opportunities to connect and learn about whales for free. Our educational programs, stewardship messages, and salmon habitat restoration efforts address two other threats to Southern Resident killer whales: lack of prey and toxins. Our team of volunteers is distributed throughout Puget Sound from Olympia to San Juan Island creating a regional network of on-the-ground orca and salmon educators and advocates.
Puget Sound - Volunteers station themselves at public beaches on the shorelines of Puget Sound both opportunistically when whales are reported in the area and at scheduled times, the second Sunday of the month, and at special events.
San Juan Island - Whale Scout is a partner in the San Juan Island Naturalist Program where volunteers are stationed at the Westside Preserve to provide information about whales, the Salish Sea, and the unique coastal prairie ecosystem found at the site. Summer months only.
Throughout the year, Whale Scout attends community events and fairs, visits classrooms and other small groups. We offer educational programming and activities that share information about whales, salmon, and the importance of habitat. Our family felt board activity offers a unique way for kids to understand stewardship actions and how they connect to the larger ecosystem.
Whale Scout offers twelve “Helpin’ Out” events each year. We work to restore native vegetation and natural processes along rivers, streams, shorelines, and forests that provide critical habitat for salmon and forage fish. Activities at these events usually includes removal of invasive plants, installing native trees and shrubs, and removing litter from beaches. We recommend that all volunteers try to attend 1-2 events each year. People of all abilities are able to play a role in the success of these events from signing people in, to providing snacks, taking photos, or assisting with the planning process.
There are many opportunities to help with the everyday functioning of our organization. Activities include helping with mailing, fundraising, communication, graphic design, organization, etc.
Time commitment - We ask that volunteers commit to an average of 2 hours per month or 24 hours per year of service in any program or combination of programs. We also ask that volunteers commit to attending at least one training session per year.
Volunteers are given opportunities to make a difference for the whales, fish and wildlife, and communities whom share the Salish Sea ecosystem. Through our continuing education programs (training sessions, field trips, book club) volunteers are also given the chance to learn more about marine mammals of the Salish Sea, the issues they face, and creative solutions to aid in the recovery of endangered species. Volunteers promote change in their community by helping others watch whales from shore, and encouraging people to channel their interest in whales into stewardship actions such as engaging in habitat restoration. Working with the public, volunteers develop skills in interpretation in communication. Many also learn to identify whale pods and individuals, and interpret scientific findings.
Join our group to read and discuss books about a variety of topics related to whales, Puget Sound, science, etc. We meet about every three months on Saturdays at McMenamins in Bothell. Books are selected based on volunteer selections and a group vote.
Past trips have included Cedar River salmon viewing, Elwha River restoration and salmon viewing, Chum salmon viewing on Kitsap. Typically these are day trips but there have been some overnight trips.
Three volunteer training sessions are offered throughout the year. Volunteers are required to attend at least one per year to stay current on the latest scientific findings, messages, and programs offered. Join our newsletter to be informed about our next training opportunity.
An annual party held in the spring or summer celebrates all our volunteers for the year of service. We enjoy food, drinks, and a lovely atmosphere at a property in Bellevue - all graciously donated!
20 hours of land-based whale watching service earns an extra loaner pair of binoculars. 2 years of service earns a Whale Scout beanie. Plus, every year new interpretive materials are given to volunteers.
Meet other like-minded members of your community and enjoy spending time sharing an experience, learning about whales, and making a big difference for our ecosystem.