By Scott Chase
Special to the Record
In a marine-based environmental organization like Sound Water Stewards, it is important to have strong leaders who can provide science-based activities in which volunteers can take part. It is just as important to have leaders who can bring volunteers together in social settings and activities to make the organization more of an extended family of caring friends who enjoy each other’s company.
Freeland’s Nicole Luce is such a leader, for many years being the heart and soul of Sound Water Stewards and Beach Watchers before that.
Since taking over WSU Beach Watchers training in 1997, Luce has volunteered around 6,400 hours on a great number of projects, not only those of Beach Watchers/Sound Water Stewards, but those of associated partners. She was on the Beach Watcher Advisory Council, took part in Sound Waters University and was on the Sound Water Stewards Training Committee.
You could find her on the beach watching pigeon guillemots as part of a project with Island County Marine Resources Committee and Whidbey Audubon Society, recording dead shorebirds for the Coastal Observation and Seabird Survey Team, assisting with the Central Puget Sound Marine Mammal Stranding Network or simply cleaning up beach litter while walking along the shoreline.
She has also been an important part of K-12 Environmental Education, WSU Waste Wise activities and fundraising for Sound Water Stewards and the Lighthouse Environmental Programs.
And if there is a Sound Water Stewards social activity taking place, Luce was likely behind it in some way.
Luce is dedicated to the environment in her volunteer life as well as in her personal life. She truly walks the talk when it comes to the environment and lives in a “green” home that demonstrates just how sustainable home life can be.
Nicole was awarded the 2020 Jan Holmes Island County Coastal Volunteer or the Year award on Feb. 1, before a crowd of over 600 attendees at Sound Waters University, held at South Whidbey High School. The award is hosted by Island County Marine Resources Committee, Sound Water Stewards, and Washington State University Extension – Island County and awarded annually to a volunteer who has demonstrated exceptional volunteer service relating to the health of Island County’s marine environment. Preceding Luce as winners of the Coastal Volunteer Award were Barbara Brock, Sammye Kempbell, Phyllis Kind, Jill Hein, Ken Urstad, Bob Gentz, Connie Clark, Sandy Dubpernell, and Craig and Joy Johnson.
To learn more about the award, visit www.islandcountymrc.org/projects/volunteer-of-the-year.