North Olympic Salmon Coalition staff members are pictured from left, Nicole O’Hara, Olivia Vito, Sarah Albert, Sarah Doyle, Rebecca Benjamin, Hannah Seligmann, Kevin Long and Bre Harris. The coalition will receive the North Olympic Land Trust’s Out Standing in the Field Award. (Alana Linderoth/North Olympic Land Trust)

North Olympic Salmon Coalition staff members are pictured from left, Nicole O’Hara, Olivia Vito, Sarah Albert, Sarah Doyle, Rebecca Benjamin, Hannah Seligmann, Kevin Long and Bre Harris. The coalition will receive the North Olympic Land Trust’s Out Standing in the Field Award. (Alana Linderoth/North Olympic Land Trust)

Salmon Coalition earns 2019 Out Standing in the Field honor

PORT ANGELES — The North Olympic Salmon Coalition will receive this year’s Out Standing in the Field Award from North Olympic Land Trust at the 11th annual Conservation Breakfast next Friday.

The public is invited to the free light breakfast of local pastries, fruit and coffee, and celebrate the Salmon Coalition at 9 a.m. March 22 at the Vern Burton Community Center, 308 E. Fourth St., Port Angeles.

Although the breakfast is free, Land Trust officials are requesting guests RSVP by this coming Wednesday. To RSVP, email north olympiclandtrust.org or call 360-417-1815.

An original RSVP date was last Wednesday but the Land Trust still had about 75 seats available as of Thursday, said Alana Linderoth, North Olympic Land Trust community engagement specialist, and so the organization extended the RSVP.

This will be the sixth consecutive year the Land Trust has presented the award that highlights the work done within an individual or organization’s field of expertise to positively impacted the North Olympic Peninsula and its communities.

Conservation Breakfast is free to attend thanks to its sponsors Sound Community Bank, Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe, Ennis Arbor Farm, Suzi Schuenemann Real Estate Broker, the customers of Sunny Farms, Natural Systems Design, and Koenig Subaru, as well as food and beverage donations from Pane d’Amore Artisan Bakery, Fogtown Coffee Bar and Olympic Springs.

Donations are appreciated however, and directly benefit local land conservation.

The Salmon Coalition — a community nonprofit aimed at promoting robust wild salmon stocks for families, fishers and local economies by furthering habitat restoration and education across both Jefferson and Clallam counties — was selected as the 2019 award recipient following the Land Trust’s request for public input.

“More than 350 community members submitted recommendations for this year’s Out Standing in the Field Award honoree,” Linderoth said. “It was close between all three nominees, which I believe reflects how mutually appreciated each candidate is among the community.”

Along with the Salmon Coalition, photographer and cinematographer John Gussman and Streamkeepers of Clallam County made up the 2019 award nominees selected by the Land Trust board and staff.

“Receiving the 2019 Out Standing in the Field Award is such an honor,” said Rebecca Benjamin, North Olympic Salmon Coalition executive director.

“We keep our heads down and work really hard every day to carry out a wide array of projects and programs, and this award offers us a moment to pause and see the community is noticing our impact and is giving us an opportunity to celebrate with our partners, volunteers and community.”

Seattle Times environment reporter Lynda Mapes is the keynote speaker. She will discuss orca recovery in Puget Sound in connection to conservation on the North Olympic Peninsula.

Aside from leading large-scale restoration projects like that recently completed at 3 Crabs in Sequim, the Salmon Coalition aims to benefit wild salmon into the future through youth education.

For the past four years, the Salmon Coalition has provided a seventh-grade education program where students get to design and implement their own restoration project.

Known as “Real Learning, Real Work,” the Salmon Coalition is gearing up to expand the program into more schools in Clallam County.

“I’m really excited about this because the program shows local students that there are viable, professional opportunities for them right here at home, and while some may choose an environmental career path eventually, we know we are also instilling a strong stewardship ethic in the short term,” Benjamin said.

“Cultivating the next generation of volunteers, members, activists, educators and leaders through this experiential program feels like the absolute right thing to be doing for the long term benefit of salmon and all of our natural resources.”

North Olympic Land Trust is “dedicated to the conservation of open spaces, local food, local resources, healthy watersheds and recreational opportunities.”

The organization’s mission is to conserve lands that sustain the communities of Clallam County. Since 1990, the Land Trust has conserved more than 3,300 acres across the North Olympic Peninsula for farms, fish and forests.

For more information, visit northolympiclandtrust.org.

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