Sharing Knowledge to Inspire Conservation, Build Connection

A man and women squatting down examining moss on a log on the ground with trees and ferns all around with 4 other people in the background.

On Feb. 11th, 2023, I was privileged to take a wonderful group of people on a tour of our Rhododendron Preserve. The group was made up of people training to become Stream Stewards. Stream Stewards are residents of Kitsap County that are turning environmental knowledge into action. They go through a lot of training to learn about how land and waters are connected and the impact that those connections have on everything and everyone – people, animals, birds, insects and more – that depend on the land and water.

Part of their training is taking field trips to various sites where they can learn about the different ecosystems, forest processes, and aquatic systems. They can observe management and restoration projects firsthand and see human impact both good and bad. You can learn more about Stream Stewards here.

It’s exciting to be one of the field trip destinations for this wonderful program. Until this year, someone else had been leading the Preserve field trip for the Stream Stewards. But this year was my year and I got to witness firsthand how much our nearly pristine forest inspires these amazing volunteers. And, in turn, I was inspired by their enthusiasm and dedication to their work.

Many of the places Stream Stewards visit have been heavily impacted by humans and/or are in the process of being restored. Being able to visit an ecosystem that is actively managed to minimize human impact, while still remaining accessible for people to visit, delighted the group.

Each participant had their own particular niche interest; some of them were especially knowledgeable about mosses, others fungi, some trees, others geology, some insects, and others lichen. As their guide, I was able to direct their attention to their particular interest and then enjoyed learning about it from them. Spending time with the Stream Stewards will make me a better guide for the next group that I take out to visit the Preserve. In truth, I learned as much from the Stream Stewards as they learned from me.

Being able to enjoy time with enthusiastic adults that are eager to learn and share their knowledge was a wonderful way to spend a chilly February morning. It’s very special to observe how much our Preserve inspires others and to be able to connect them to this healthy ecosystem. 

– Katha Wilder, Education Committee