The plight of the southern resident killer whales will be discussed at Sound Waters University that focuses on the ecology of the Salish Sea. (Photo by Jill Hein)

The plight of the southern resident killer whales will be discussed at Sound Waters University that focuses on the ecology of the Salish Sea. (Photo by Jill Hein)

Sound Waters University set for Feb. 2 in Langley

Registration begins Dec. 28 for all-day classes on Salish Sea

The university on “All Things Puget Sound” is again holding classes in February on Whidbey Island.

Sound Water Stewards all-day program on Saturday, Feb. 2, offers classes on environmental issues, marine ecosystems, wildlife, climate change, coastal geology and other topics.

Called Sound Waters University, the program brings together experts in many fields with people who are interested in learning more about the Salish Sea and how to save its fragile ecosystems.

Registration and ticket sales close Jan. 20.

Last year, tickets sold out fast so people are advised to sign up sooner than later.

“Last year we sold out by mid-January, so we don’t want to disappoint anyone,” said Ann Cushing Post with Sound Water Stewards.

It takes place at South Whidbey High School from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 2.

Tickets are $60 and $30 for current students, teachers and Americorps volunteers.

All attendees must register in advance online for the classes.

No tickets will be sold at the door, Cushing Post emphasized.

Last year, 650 people converged for the annual one-day university that’s been taking place the first Saturday of February since the 1990s.

Keynote speaker is Washington State Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz.

She oversees the state Department of Natural Resources, its 1,500 employees and the protection and management of nearly six million acres of public lands in Washington State – from coastal waters and aquatic reserves, to working forests and farms, to commercial developments and recreation areas.

Her keynote speech at 9 a.m. Saturday is titled “Uniting to Protect Our Waters.” It will discuss the need for hope and optimism in the face of environmental challenges, according to a press release.

More than 70 presenters will give 59 classes about the natural world.

“More than half of the classes are new this year,” Cushing Post said. They include such subjects as whales, habitat restoration, birds, earthquakes, citizen science and photography.

Participants can attend the keynote speech and a choice of three class sessions. There are breaks and time for lunch, which can be pre-ordered for $15.

About 60 exhibitors will also be set up all day.

Organizers predict that recent news about the dwindling population of the southern resident killer whales will spur more people to learn about how to save them.

For more information and to register go to www. soundwaterstewards.org/sw/

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