Rachel Carson Forum

The Power of Community Science

Join the Master of Environmental Studies Association (MESA) Thursday May 16th for the 30th annual Rachel Carson Forum!

Community science provides a platform for sharing insights across multiple disciplines. A way for volunteers to partner together with scientists to answer real-world questions. We believe science is important and can be fun for everyone. When more people are engaged and realize the value of science and nature, we all stand to benefit especially mother Earth and all her inhabitants.

May 16th, 2019


Main Event: Keynote Presentations, Location: COM 107 Recital Hall
Doors open at 6:30pm, presentations begin promptly at 7pm.


7pm – 7:40pm Daniel Hull: Environmental ethics, it is a human story

Nisqually Reach Nature Center Executive Director


"For 35 years, the Nisqually Reach Nature Center has offered environmental education to thousands of youth and young adults at Luhr Beach in Olympia, Washington, and in the classroom."

Daniel HullDaniel has been community organizer, citizen scientist and environmental educator for over 28 years. He has worked with several different Government and Non-Government agencies including US Geologic Survey, US Fish and Wildlife Service, US Forest Service, US National Park Service, The Nisqually Squaxin and Quinault Tribes, Washington Department of Natural Resources, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, as well as many community groups, NGOs and Non Profits.  During this tenure in community engagement he has created, managed and participated in dozens of monitoring projects and presented thousands of educational programs and helped guide the mission of Nisqually Reach Nature Center.  A majority of these programs focused on connecting community with their local environments and linking that with overall ecosystem health.  The culmination of efforts put forth was instrumental in the creation of a community driven state DNR Aquatic Reserve in 2011.  The Aquatic Reserve is a 90 year plan which will help conserve and promote a deeper understanding of approximately 15,000 acres of state DNR land in the South Sound.  Daniel has a general degree in natural science and minor in communication and interpretation from Hocking College in Nelsonville, Ohio.

Photo sourced from: http://nisquallyestuary.org/about/staff/


7:50pm – 8:30pm Susan Berta and Howard Garrett: Orca Network’s Whale Sighting Network –Citizen Science and So Much More

Howard Garrett, Co-founder, Director and President of the Board
Susan Berta, Co-founder and Executive Director


"Orca Network is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization registered in Washington State, dedicated to raising awareness about the whales of the Pacific Northwest, and the importance of providing them healthy and safe habitats. A community is emerging that is increasingly attuned to the orca population, that cares about and tries to understand the needs of the resident and transient orcas that inhabit the Salish Sea."

Howard GarrettHoward Garrett received his degree in Sociology from Colorado College in 1980, and began working as field researcher with the Center for Whale Research on San Juan Island in 1981. Howard also spent time in New England, educating the public about Humpback and other Atlantic whales. He returned to San Juan Island and in 1995 began a campaign to return Lolita/Tokitae, a Southern Resident orca captured in 1970 off Whidbey Island, to her home waters in Puget Sound. He and his wife Susan Berta co-founded Orca Network in 2001, based on Whidbey Island. Howard gives educational presentations in Washington and beyond on orca natural history, conservation and captivity issues for students and community organizations. Howard is often interviewed by media, including an interview about the social and cultural aspects of Orcas and about the 1970 Orca captures in Penn Cove, featured in the film Blackfish in 2013.

Susan BertaSusan Berta received her Bachelor of Arts degree from The Evergreen State College in 1982, with majors in music and psychology. After a decade of working in the field of Social Work, in 1989 Susan became Program coordinator and co-founder of the Island County/WSU Beach Watchers, an environmental education program for volunteers who give back to the community by volunteering and conducting citizen science projects such as a beach monitoring program which has now collected decades of data on Island County beaches. Susan's office was in the Admiralty Head Lighthouse, where she often watched orcas traveling past Whidbey Island each fall, and soon her love of the whales led her to Howard Garrett who had just founded the campaign to bring Lolita/Tokitae home from her small tank at the Miami Seaquarium.

By the year 2000, Susan's observations of the orcas off Whidbey had blossomed into what is now the Whale Sighting Network, and she left Beach Watchers to co-found Orca Network with Howard in 2001. Together they continued the ongoing Lolita/Tokitae Campaign, the Whale Sighting Network, and created the Central Puget Sound Marine Mammal Stranding Network. In 2014, Orca Network opened the Langley Whale Center on south Whidbey Island, to educate the public about the marine mammals of the Salish Sea, with a focus on North Puget Sound Gray whales and Southern Resident orcas. Orca Network offers many opportunities for the public to engage in citizen science through participation in the Whale Sighting Network and Marine Mammal Stranding Network. Orca Network and the Langley Whale Center partner with many research organizations and agencies, including NOAA Fisheries, Cascadia Research Collective, and the Center for Whale Research. In 2007 Orca Network began "Orca Month", proclaimed each June by the Governor, to raise awareness about the plight of the Southern Resident orcas.

Photos sourced from: http://www.orcanetwork.org/Main/index.php?categories_file=About


Please join us before the keynote presentations for an evening of networking with amazing community science groups and organizations and hands-on workshops!


Community Tabling Event, Location: COM Lobby, 5pm – 6:30pm

Featuring local community science groups and organizations including:

  • Two people talking at tabling event with other in the backgroundSurfrider Foundation
  • MeadoWatch
  • Nisqually Reach Nature Center
  • Cascadia Research Collective
  • Citizen Science Young of Year (YOY) Rockfish SCUBA Photo Project
  • Orca Network
  • Puget SoundCorps
  • Center for Natural Lands Management
  • Thurston County Solid Waste Division
  • Olympia Coalition for Ecosystems Preservation
  • Clean Energy Committee
  • SR3
  • and more!


Workshops, Location: COM 117 from 5pm – 6:30pm

5:00pm – 5:40pm Resume Building Workshop with Assistant Director of MES, Andrea Martin. Bring your resume!

5:50pm – 6:30pm Laurel Baum with the Citizen Wildlife Monitoring Project


MES Thesis Poster Presentation Location: COM Lobby

Take a tour of current MES student thesis work! Read about what current graduate students are working on and gain insight into the broader implication their work has on the environment throughout the event.



Find us on Facebook! https://www.facebook.com/4MESA/
For more information about this event please email messtudentassociation@gmail.com.
Our event is ADA accessible. Parking is $3.00 a day.