As I write this amidst a global pandemic, I reflect on the fact that the world is very different than it was in 2019. And yet this crisis has only underscored the importance of science and teaching about the interconnectedness of all living things.
Because of the continued urgency of our mission to inspire conservation of the Salish Sea, the Board and I are pleased to report that, in 2019, midway through our 10-year strategic plan, we were on track to double our impact by 2025. We continued steady growth, including serving 20,436 visitors in the museum and aquarium, representing a 47% increase since the strategic plan was adopted in 2014.
The centerpiece of our strategic plan is the interweaving of our three core competencies: Visitor Engagement, Lifelong Education, and Citizen Science. Innovative programming that draws on all three competencies creates one-of-a-kind opportunities for learning that sets the Marine Science Center apart. In this annual report, you will find stories that capture the power of the integration of these core strengths.
All this is only possible because of the strength and generosity of you, our community. Thank you!
Janine Boire, Executive Director
Octopus Learning Project
The Octopus Learning Project is a great example of the innovative programming that expanded our audience in 2019. In association with biologist and videographer Florian Graner, principal at SeaLife Productions, the Octopus Learning Project documented the relationship that developed between a giant Pacific octopus, named Elenora and her caregiver, Ali Redman, the Aquarium Curator at PTMSC. The film is in final post production and will premier in 2020 on German Public Television. We are currently developing plans for the U.S. premiere.
"We rarely see fish, let alone molluscs, as distinct individuals," says Ali Redman.
"Getting to know Eleanora personally and seeing others connect with her on an individual to individual level was eye-opening. It opens doors to greater understanding and empathy with marine life."
- Ali Redman, PTMSC Aquarium Curator
Sabrina Fotinakis is a 10-year-old from Portland, Ore., who demonstrates the excitement and enthusiasm we see every day among our Aquarium visitors. “I love animals and care a lot for them,” Sabrina says. “I really love how the Marine Science Center takes care of these animals.”
Elephant Seal in the (Class) Room
The Elephant Seal in the (Class)Room project showcases how citizen science can be creatively translated into a lifelong education program. After an elephant seal stranded and died on the beach at Fort Worden last year, we made sure he didn’t die in vain. Thanks to the vision of our Program Director, Diane Quinn, and tireless work by AmeriCorps, his bones are being prepared to become the focal point of a new educational outreach program.
AmeriCorps Volunteer Program Educator Mandi Johnson has been shepherding an amazing project that started with a northern elephant seal stranding on Marrowstone Island in 2018. “In high school, I enjoyed learning about how our organs, muscles, and the skeleton all complemented each other with their individual functions,” Mandi says.
“Being able to process and articulate this northern elephant seal skeleton is something my younger self would have dreamed of doing. By adapting this skeleton into a new education program, we give it even more purpose, and hopefully inspire a few change-makers!”
-Mandi Johnson, PTMSC AmeriCorps Educator
Our longtime leadership in citizen science laid the groundwork to an expanding partnership with the Puget Sound Restoration Fund (PSRF), which is dedicated to reviving the native pinto abalone species (listed as endangered in 2018). The Marine Science Center’s role with the PSRF grew in 2019 from its origins as a successful citizen science project serving as pilot nursery for juvenile abalone, to developing messaging and exhibitry that can be replicated and shared among all the emerging remote nursery sites. This is a perfect example of how each of our core competencies of Visitor Engagement, Lifelong Education and Citizen Science are leveraged to reinforce each other.
"I am an abalone foster mom. I love to clean their tanks around their beautiful little bodies, feed them, and see them grow. When they go out to the big world of the ocean I get terrible empty-tank-syndrome."
- Dana Africa, Abalone Project Volunteer
2019 By The Numbers
• 6,630 youth and adults participated in educational programming focused on marine life and Salish Sea conservation, an increase of 5% over 2018.
• In 2019, the Marine Science Center served 20,436 visitors in the Museum and Aquarium, a 47% increase since the 10-year strategic plan was adopted in 2014.
• $85,755 invested in free science programs, scholarships, and subsidies for students and summer campers.
• 10,394 volunteer hours donated by 405 individuals valued at $264,319, augmenting staff resources by 50%.
• Facebook followers increased 15% to 4,024, compared to 2018.
Janine Boire, Executive Director
Liesl Slabaugh, Development & Marketing Director
Diane Quinn, Program Director
Betsy Carlson, Citizen Science Coordinator
Debra Diner, Administrative Specialist
Phil Dinsmore, Facilities Coordinator
Brian Kay, Marketing & Development Coordinator
Alexandra Redman, Aquarium Curator
Gabriele Sanchez, Volunteer & Program Coordinator
Carolyn Woods, Education Coordinator
PTMSC AmeriCorps Volunteers
Mandi Johnson, Volunteer Program Educator
Ellie Kravets, Museum Educator
Marley Loomis, Aquarium Educator
Michael Siddel, Citizen Science Lab Educator
PTMSC 2019 Staff & AmeriCorps (as pictured here with Betty the Truck)
Top row, standing (from left): Mandi Johnson, Ellie Kravets, Ali Redman, Carolyn Woods, Marley Loomis, Liesl Slabaugh, Brian Kay. Bottom row (from left): Janine Boire (in driver's seat), Phil Dinsmore, Michael Siddel, Betsy Carlson, Diane Quinn, Gabriele Sanchez.