What does it take to be a Snohomish County Washington State University Extension Beach Watcher? Just a little time, a lot of passion and $175.

Launched in 1989 by the WSU Island County Extension, Beach Watchers learn about Puget Sound wildlife, coastal processes, water quality, climate change, and so much more.

According to the Beach Watchers website, “In 2006, other counties joined the program expanding our reach all the way to the Canadian border thanks to support from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and other partners. Over time the programs transformed–some became independent non-profit agencies while others merged with similar organizations.”

The WSU Snohomish County Extension Beach Watchers are still focused wholly on protecting the Salish Sea through stewardship, education and citizen science research projects. These projects span from Bringing the Beach to the Classroom to monitoring salt water quality to beach cleanups.

But there is no single way to participate! Volunteers can choose one of the following programs:

  • Educate and help others conserve Puget Sound health
  • Get involved in one or several Puget Sound related research projects
  • Bring your own ideas to craft your own volunteer experience

Beach Watchers are trained by state, regional and local experts through a training program overseen by Washington State University Extension.WSU hosts a training course where enrollees receive 80 hours of classroom and field training in classes that will mix in-person and online learning, with several field trips included.

If the 80 hours of volunteer time feels a little daunting, there is a shortened training course and volunteer opportunity called Beach Naturalist. A much shorter 17-hours of education imparts volunteers with the skills needed to teach marine life knowledge to school children and beach visitors in exchange for volunteering at four Beach Watcher events in the summer.

The deadline for registration is fast approaching; training starts on March 16 and will be every Thursday in March and May from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. and every Tuesday and Thursday in April from 9 a.m. – noon.

Those interested can find more info and the volunteer training application at the Beach Watcher’s website here.