See also: Unknowns, Member Feedback, Transition Planning

Should Island County Beach Watchers Become Its Own Organization

This page provides background of how we got to the late April 2015 decision that Beach Watchers should transition from being a program under WSU Extension to being its own independent non-profit organization.

Early History

Recent History

-- Experienced BW's dropping out or minimizing their activities

-- Well regarded projects leaving

Some excellent ICBW citizen science projects (Seining, Eelgrass Monitoring) forced to find new homes to continue doing their work effectively

-- BW Advisory Council (and volunteer) Frustrations

-- WSU Frustrations

-- Fall 2014 - ICBW strategic planning sessions

-- 2014/2015 - WSU considering options for future of BW programs

Three options have been proposed (as quoted from Tim Lawrence):

  1. "Develop a State Program (not a statewide program) for a regional BW program that will cover all 12 counties in the Puget Sound Region. This would include a faculty lead and a more integrated approach to environmental education in the region. Developing this concept is the charge of the faculty committee ... there are no resources available for developing this type of a program at the moment ..."
  2. "At the discretion of the County Director - continue with County based programming under the direct supervision of the County Director and a program coordinator. Under this scenario there would be an expectation of absolute compliance with WSU requirements for educational programming and volunteer activities ... " (status quo with greater Director input)
  3. "The third scenario would be for the BW's to spin off as an independent 501(c)(3) ... "

-- February 2015 - Organizational Change Committee formed

BWAC asked Linda Ridder '05 to form an organizational change committe to investigate and report back about what structure, other than the status quo, will better serve the continuation of this unique organization that is dedicated to making our marine environment and our home the best place possible?

Initial Letter to ICBW Membership, Committee Members, Change Guidelines

-- March 2015 - proposed resolution

BWAC unanimously approved the following Change Committee recommendation in principle, pending feedback and input from Beach Watcher volunteers (in early April 2015):

We, the Beach Watcher Volunteers of Island County,
want to be responsible for the ongoing success
of the Island County Beach Watchers program.

In order to accomplish this, we recommend becoming
an independent, non-profit organization.

-- Early April 2015 - Feedback Meetings

Three feedback meetings were held - a total of 52 BW's attended (Change Committee members not counted) - attendance was excellent on Camano, disappointingly low on Whidbey. Kristen Stavros (BW Coordinator, 2006-8, Puget Sound Partnership 2008-2013) facilitated all three meetings.

At each meeting, there was a brief introduction (of the recent history material that appears above) followed by a general discussion and creation of a pros/cons list, e.g. reasons to become independent, and reasons to stay with WSU.

Major reasons to become independent

Major concerns ... to be addressed in any transition plan

In all, over 90% of attendees answered affirmatively to the statement "Should we become independent of WSU".

A second exercise focused on gathering answers to three questions:

See summary of feedback meetings

-- mid April 2015 - Change Committee discussions

Consensus is that the only structure that will meet the goal of local control is to become our own independent non-profit.

Committee targets January 1, 2016 as the official 'dis-engage from WSU' date, and is addressing the concerns raised at the feedback meetings.

A transition plan is being developed.

-- Late April 2015 - Committee Report to BWAC

BWAC accepted Change Committee proposal, and charged it to take the steps to create this new independent non-profit organization.

See Transition Planning for late April view; see for ongoing reports.

last updated: May 2 2015

See also: Unknowns, Member Feedback, Transition Planning