Become A Whale Scout Naturalist

Role Of Volunteers

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.

Volunteer Programs

1. Land-based whale watching in Puget Sound and on San Juan Island

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.

2. Education and outreach

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.

3. Habitat restoration

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.

4. Administration

There are many opportunities to help with the everyday functioning of our organization. Activities include helping with mailing, fundraising, communication, graphic design, organization, etc.

Volunteer Expectations

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.

Volunteer Benefits

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 us at an upcoming Helpin' Out event

All events are open to the public

February 15, 2020

Plant Trees Along Bear Creek

Volunteer to make a difference for orcas in Redmond! Join us at a private property site located along Bear Creek to plant native trees and remove non-native and invasive vegetation. Restoring this riparian zone is fun and helps the salmon that feed whales! Your time and effort benefits water quality and Chinook salmon in this urban stream. Please meet at PCC in Redmond (11435 Avondale Rd NE, Redmond, WA 98052) and we will walk to the property together. This is about a 6 minute walk. Space will be limited so please sign up below! Those under 15 must be accompanied by an adult and those under 18 need a signed waiver. Please email us if you have accessibility concerns.

February 22, 2020

Sammamish River: Plant Trees, Help Salmon!

Plant trees in Woodinville to improve water quality in the Sammamish River with our friends at Mid Sound Fisheries, King County Parks, and Tom Douglas- Rub with Love! All ages are welcome, we'll provide all the tools, gloves, and snacks! Why Your Volunteer Service is Important Salmon are in trouble in Puget Sound. Two populations of salmon in the Sammamish River (Chinook and steelhead) are listed as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act. One of the main problems for salmon in the Sammamish River is that water temperatures get too hot for the fish. One of the best ways to address that is to plant more trees along the banks of the river that can help create shade and cool the water down. To be able to plant trees we must first remove invasive plants that can outcompete newly planted native trees if left alone. Thriving forests and shorelines can also provide many other benefits to our community like filtering pollution, mitigating erosion and storm damage, and providing places for wildlife to live and for humans to connect with nature. Young people under the age of 16 must be accompanied by an adult. Any minors under the age of 18 attending the event without a parent or legal guardian must also bring a signed Youth Waiver to event in order to participate. For questions contact: Ben Saari at Project funded by the King County Wastewater Treatment Division. To view the event details and driving directions, go to:

Whale Scout Book Club

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.

Field Trips

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.

Training Sessions

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.

Appreciation Parties

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!

Earn Swag!

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.

Make Friends

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.

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P.O. Box 426
Woodinville, WA 98072


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