With member support, Washington State Parks Foundation was able to fund special park projects, hold a number of exciting park events, and raise awareness among governmental officials of the importance of supporting increased public funding for parks. Looking back on the past year, these accomplishments stand out:
On June 14th, we hosted the first annual Get Outdoors – Adventure Awaits Expo at Olympia’s Capitol Campus with Governor Jay Inslee. Governor Inslee spoke and later hosted 30 kids to camp on the Governor’s mansion lawn. More than 30 organizations and approximately 500 people participated in the expo, representing natural resource agencies, non-profit recreational groups, outdoor retailers and other stakeholders.
We launched a new membership program, giving a range of benefits to donors and engaging supporters across the state to be more involved in state parks issues. As part of this engagement, we rallied support with Governor Inslee at a special event in Olympia, and pushed strongly at meetings of the Parks Commission and Blue Ribbon Task force across the state to define and fight to fund a healthy and sustainable park system in this year’s legislative session.
Our Small and Simple Grants program funded or earmarked funding for park improvements at state parks throughout Washington, including interpretive exhibits and materials at Deception Pass, Penrose and Kopachuck. We are also providing support for playground improvements at Lake Easton, as well as amphitheater improvements at Seaquest and the Mt. St. Helens Visitor Center. We also held a fundraising drive for the Small and Simple Grants program in the fall of 2014 that doubled funding support for the program to $20K in 2015, and will consider further engaging with program donors to select grant recipients.
The Foundation was pleased to provide support for Shellfest events in Puget Sound and Arts in the Parks events statewide. We organized Shellfests with the parks agency at Belfair and Birch Bay State Parks, where we brought more than 15 partner organizations and welcomed approximately 1,500 participants to celebrate Washington’s shellfish heritage with delectable lunch offerings from Taylor Shellfish, stories of tribal heritage, low-tide beachwalks and crafts for kids. In addition, this year’s Foundation-supported Arts in the Parks program included such diverse offerings as South American dance at Pearrygin Lake, an American Roots Music Series at Deception Pass, and Songs of the Sea poetry and storytelling at Peace Arch State Park.
Without our members, none of these projects could have happened. We’re looking forward to the great work we’ll do together in 2015!