Author and Photos by Talking Forests

Did you know that the Nisqually River divides Thurston from Pierce County? The Nisqually River is created by a glacier that is on Mount Rainier and you can view the glacier in Mount Rainier National Park and then go all the way to the end of the river to view the estuary in the Billy Frank Jr. Wildlife refuge, where the Nisqually freshwater river meets the Puget Sound ocean water. This journey that the Nisqually makes from Mt. Rainier to the Sound is a watershed.

Nisqually Glacier rests in the Mount Rainier National Park

One ~ Nisqually Land Trust (NLT)-They offer weekly tree planting volunteer opportunities near Mt. Rainier. The NLT was founded in 1989 and can buy land to manage which permanently benefits the wildlife, water, and people of the watershed. As a NLT volunteer, you are able to observe and report what you find on the land that you are assigned.

A group picture after Nature Mapping with fellow Nisqually Land Trust volunteers.

Two ~ Nisqually River Education Project (NREP)-Are you a teacher who has students in the Nisqually watershed? NREP offers activities like Eye on Nature field trips, salmon tossing, water quality monitoring, and the annual GREEN congress at The Evergreen State College. The beauty of the student GREEN congress is that elementary students in the watershed review water quality data from earlier in the year and they get to present what they found out about water quality to experts and professionals who help mentor them.

Sheila Wilson showing children how ot dissect a fish at the Nisqually Watershed Festival

Three ~ Nisqually Stream Stewards (NSS)-Offered by the Nisqually River Council and the Nisqually Indian tribe is an annual free class that is open to anyone interested in learning about the watershed. They provide 40 hours of training in exchange for 40 hours of your volunteer time to become a citizen scientist. You could meet and network with any program in the watershed. The NSS class exposes you to all the watershed has to offer and gives you the freedom to choose where you want to volunteer in the watershed. Every summer, starting in June, they recruit new volunteers for the stream steward class so watch out for this amazing opportunity to be invested in the watershed. The class graduates at the annual Nisqually Watershed Festival every September.

Rachael Mueller of NW Trek with a volunteer.

Four ~ Billy Frank Jr. Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge-Did you know that the wildlife refuge offers a junior duck stamp contest, morning bird walks, and feature many volunteers that you can sign up to become? The wildlife refuge is not only for the birds. If you are interested in learning more about the refuge, and Friends of the Nisqually-a non-profit organization that helps with outreach programs in the wildlife refuge as they are dedicated to promoting public awareness, conservation, and providing public seminars and publications to enhance the understanding and appreciation of the Puget Sound.

Five ~ Northwest Trek Wildlife Park-Owned by Metro Parks Tacoma, Northwest Trek is a place where anyone interested in the outdoors, learning about wildlife and engaging the public then you are most welcome.  They have different types of volunteers from education based and volunteers that are needed for special events. The park also offers internships to applicants that are at least 18 years of age, a college student or recent graduate, and flexible with his or her schedule. Have you ever wanted to observe nature and learn what each thing you see is as you go? The park offers NatureMapping, FrogWatch USA, Amphibian Egg Mass Survey Program, and elk survey field trips that you can be a part of.

Rachael Mueller of NW Trek with volunteers who are Nature Mapping.

Nisqually is a very dynamic watershed with opportunities for everyone in the community to get involved in. If you are able, the benefits of getting out in the watershed in any part from the mountain to the sound are priceless. All of these programs are on Facebook so go and like them to watch for seasonal opportunities. Through the many programs offered in the watershed, you will likely fall in love with the efforts to educate everyone and the connection you get while being in nature. What are you waiting for? Get out, email, Facebook, Instagram, and ask to be Nisqually volunteer in any part of the watershed today.

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