Friends of Fort Worden board member Claude Manning and President Zan Manning hope this year’s annual speaker will bring in new members and donations to the organization. (Cydney McFarland/Peninsula Daily News)

Friends of Fort Worden to hear about benefits of being in nature

PORT TOWNSEND — The health benefits of being out in nature will be the topic of the guest speaker at the Friends of Fort Worden’s annual meeting and party, the group’s biggest fundraiser of the year, on Friday.

Social scientist Kathleen Wolf will speak at the event.

“It’s primarily our membership drive and fundraiser, but it’s also a way of recognizing our volunteers,” said Zan Manning, Friends of Fort Worden president. “It also fulfills our obligation to lifelong learning.”

Doors will open at 5 p.m. for the social in the Fort Worden Commons, 200 Battery Way.

Wolf’s talk will start at 6:30 p.m. and is expected to last an hour.

“We try to find speakers who will resonate with the community,” Manning said.

The event is free to Friends of Fort Worden members and $5 for nonmembers. It will feature appetizers and a no-host bar, sponsored by Windermere Real Estate.

“It’s the first time we’ve had a sponsor,” Manning said. “It’s great since this event is becoming more and more of a fundraiser.”

Wolf is a researcher at the University of Washington College of the Environment and the School for Environmental and Forest Sciences.

In her hourlong talk, she will share some of her research, which has tied individual and community health benefits to access to experiences in nature.

“Those of us who come to the park [Fort Worden] a lot just instinctively know there’s something that draws us back,” said Claude Manning, Friends of Fort Worden board member.

“It makes us feel connected somehow. Hopefully she’ll explain all that.”

This year’s fundraiser will be a small silent auction, with prizes donated from various local businesses.

Friends of Fort Worden also will honor one of its volunteers as Volunteer of the Year and present information on the accomplishments of 2016.

“It’s a great way to let our members and the public know what we’ve been doing,” Zan Manning said. “A lot of the things we do, like trail upkeep and putting in bike racks, are pretty hard to notice.”

Creating a lifelong learning center in the 90-acre campus portion of Fort Worden State Park is the goal of a public development authority that took over management of that portion of the park in 2014. Washington State Parks runs the rest of Fort Worden.

Fort Worden houses a Peninsula College branch, the Woodworking School, the Marine Science Center, the School of the Arts and other endeavors.

Friends of Fort Worden is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the care, preservation and enhancement of Fort Worden State Park. The group is made up of volunteers who do everything from run the park’s gift shop to trail maintenance to hosting educational walking tours through the park.

“This year’s program should resonate deeply with those who love and enjoy Fort Worden,” said Janine Anderson, event organizer, in a news release. “We hope to present more of this type of educational program in the future.”

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Jefferson County Editor/Reporter Cydney McFarland can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 55052, or at cmcfarland@peninsuladailynews.com.