Applications due April 12 for community classes aimed at improving local water quality

CATS past participant Dana Kemmerling (right) at her volunteer project site with another volunteer. (Photos courtesy Antonia Jindrich)

Applications are due soon for a series of free classes that begin in May to educate and empower community members with a passion for streams, clean water and local wildlife. The Community Action Training School (CATS) provides nine virtual lectures as well as regional field trips in exchange for participants agreeing to volunteer on a local watershed improvement project of their choice.

“Protecting and restoring our rivers and natural areas requires so many partners – from national governments to local ones, from nonprofit organizations to responsible businesses,” said Sarah Heerhartz, executive director of Mid Sound Fisheries Enhancement Group. “I have seen how passionate neighbors can play a huge role – from restoring their local parks, to holding elected official accountable.”

Online applications to the program are due April 12. More information about the classes and schedule is available from both Sound Salmon Solutions and Mid Sound Fisheries Enhancement Group, which are coordinating it.

Organizers said that people enrolled in the program have created positive impacts on watersheds through various types of projects. Examples included the creation of Students Saving Salmon at Edmonds-Woodway High School, community-led restoration events, and translation of interpretive signs in a park to the languages most often spoken in that neighborhood.

A CATS field trip to learn about stream restoration.

“In our last cohort, one participant worked with her neighbors to protect an important wetland from development and now she’s a part of the planning commission for her city,” said Kelly Frazee, education program manager of Sound Salmon Solutions.

The school is designed for residents of areas in the Snoqualmie/Skykomish/Snohomish Watershed and the Lake Washington/Cedar/Sammamish Watershed. Topics covered in the classes include water quality, wildlife biology, environmental justice and community engagement. Field trips throughout the Puget Sound region serve to provide hands-on experiences related to those topics.

Dana Kemmerling, who previously participated in the program, said, “I’ve always cared about salmon. But by participating in the CATS program, I better understood where I could best fit my talents into the road to salmon restoration.” She appreciated the range of community issues that speakers covered and then putting what she learned into action. “I was able to use my enthusiasm – and my marketing experience – to help co-workers and friends become inspired to help rip out blackberries and plant native plants along the Sammamish River.”

The program, which runs from May 12 – Oct. 6, is funded by the King County Flood Control District, and directed by the Snoqualmie Watershed Forum and the Cedar/Sammamish/Lake Washington watersheds.

“We are thrilled to once again be able to work with enthusiastic community members who are excited to make change,” said Heerhartz. “This program helps people find the areas they are passionate about, and helps focus that passion on a project that can make a change.”

For more information contact:

Kelly Frazee
Sound Salmon Solutions

Antonia Jindrich
Mid Sound Fisheries Enhancement Group

— By Nathan Blackwell

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