Testimonials from some of the many people who have influenced - and been influenced by - Conservation Northwest.
The many people who have worked with Conservation Northwest have kept the Northwest wild with their passion and courage. Conservation Northwest turned 25 in 2014, and we reached out to acknowledge our roots in your testimonials.
Matt Norton, Minneapolis
Conservation Northwest is a conservation winner. In the early 1990s, I was hired to advocate for grizzly bear recovery in the North Cascades. It was exciting work. I learned a lot and loved it. Greater Ecosystem Alliance, as it was called then, was a scrappy outfit committed to sound conservation biology, carrying a monumentally ambitious mission and a knack for forging friendships and partnerships. Conservation Northwest has remained true to its roots. Small wonder, then, that it has inspired so much trust and attracted loyal fans and members. Nearly 20 years later, I remain devoted to Conservation Northwest: its strong vision, the top quality of its people and their work, and for its long list of victories. Who doesn’t love a winner?
Matt is campaign director, Minnesota Environmental Partnership
Jeanette Russell, Missoula
What began as a policy internship with Mitch exploded into a strategic partnership with our newly formed student group, the Western Endangered Species Alliance, bringing national attention to the attacks on the ESA and the infamous Salvage Rider. Mitch and then Conservation Director Brian Vincent coached us on strategy and messaging. We were powerful and unstoppable because of their investment in us future leaders. Since those days, I’ve had a rich career campaigning to end logging on public lands and more recently in nonprofit tech where I serve thousands of nonprofits. Thank you, Conservation Northwest, for all you do!
Jeanette is organizing director at Salsa Labs.
Eric Wingerter, Washington, DC
As a student at Western in the ‘90s, I was lucky enough to find mentors at Conservation Northwest who taught me to turn my passion for our Northwest forests into effective advocacy. I’ve used those skills throughout my career in Washington DC, from environmental advocacy to LGBT rights, to heading the national communications strategy for the NAACP. I’m so appreciative of Conservation Northwest for setting me and so many others on our paths and shaping my passion and skills as an activist. I’m especially grateful for their visionary work to protect our beloved wild lands. Congratulations on your anniversary!
Eric is vice president for communications at the Kapor Center for Social Impact
Melanie Mayock, Seattle
My work with Northwest Ecosystem Alliance was a special time in my life and taught me how to be an effective advocate. When our student group worked with us on a press event in a Congressman’s office, every effort was made to ensure our message (“don’t clearcut ancient forests”) was front and center and delivered by the most credible spokespersons. Without careful forethought and planning, the story in the press might have been about a bunch of crazy students, which would not have moved the needle. Today I am finishing graduate school in Urban Planning and Public Administration and was lucky enough to lead legislative advocacy for graduate students last year, which included trying to beat back tuition increases. Being clear on your goal and then finding the most effective steps to achieve it are lessons I’ve taken with me and use every day.
Melanie is external affairs specialist for Transportation Services at University of Washington.
Grant Wilson, Oakland
Interning at Conservation Northwest from 2008-2009 directly inspired me to get a law degree from Lewis and Clark Law School. I’ve gone on to work on environmental campaigns around the world, from climate change negotiations in Cancun to indigenous rights in Kenya. I now work in the Bay Area to advance the rights of nature. Shouldn’t the North Cascades have a legal right to ecosystem health, and wolves have a legal right to exist and thrive?
Conservation Northwest was the best gig I have ever had, both because of the sense of accomplishment I felt in helping protect the beautiful Northwest and for having an amazing and fun staff. Thank you, Conservation Northwest, for giving me my start, for letting me contribute to your team, and for continuing to serve as the Pacific Northwest’s greatest ally. Your work is crucial for protecting our wildlife and wild areas and gives us all hope for a thriving future.
Grant is outreach and policy coordinator at Earth Law Center.
Mary Humphries, Bellingham
Early days with Mitch proved that Conservation Northwest would become a great force for wilderness and wildlife protection in the Pacific Northwest. He was so determined and fearless! He inspired others to act with equal parts courage and commitment, and that’s why we have lynx and wolves and grizzlies where once there were few or none. Conservation Northwest has become an organization I could never have imagined back in 1990. At that time it was run by passionate, hard-core activists out of a dingy office in Bellingham with bad light, dented metal desks, and sallow walls. Yet that improbable beginning has yielded many incredible successes and we are all the beneficiaries of Conservation Northwest’s steadfast vision and dedication. Twenty-five years and so much to celebrate—congratulations!
Mary is senior development director at ForestEthics.
Candace Batycki, Nelson, BC
In 1992, Conservation Northwest, then Greater Ecosystem Alliance, hired me to help with the Columbia Mountains conservation plan, and Joe Scott has been my stalwart ally and friend ever since. Seriously, Giuseppe: 22 years? That’s a lot of conference calls, lobbying trips, hikes in wild places, and belly laughs. For ten of those years I was with ForestEthics, working in coalition with Joe and others to protect mountain caribou habitat. Now I’m helping Conservation Northwest with a new conservation plan for the Columbia Mountains, one that considers the potential impacts of climate change. Thanks Conservation Northwest, from all us northern critters!
Pauline Hillaire, Bellingham
Pauline Hillaire, an honored elder of the Lummi Nation, worked as our first office manager. She has retired and is living in a rest home in Bellingham after recently winning a National Endowment for the Arts heritage award for her cultural work (arts.gov/honors/heritage/fellows/pauline-hillaire). Our thoughts and thanks go out to Pauline.
Reese Lolley, Yakima
Working at Greater Ecosystem Alliance my first year out of college provided me with a great appreciation for computerized GIS! (I coordinated volunteers to create color maps of habitats of concern to make recommendations for increasing amount of B.C. Parks, before GIS was computerized.) In all seriousness, working with Conservation Northwest had a pivotal influence on my career and life-experiencing and understanding the power of working with passionate people, the importance of science, and how compatible and powerful these factors are together in creating lasting conservation outcomes.
Reese is Eastern Washington forests program director with The Nature Conservancy.
Lisa McShane, Bellingham
I stumbled into a job at Conservation Northwest because I loved to organize people and was passionate about restoring wild salmon to our waters. For 10 great years I worked to protect Blanchard Mountain for recreation and the Lake Whatcom watershed for drinking water and protection from landslides. Conservation Northwest is a regional and national powerhouse: smart, lean, strategic and with a laser focus on goals. I love the organization. In 2008 I left to run the Gregoire statewide field campaign, but I didn’t go far. I continued to work on our goals to protect 9,000 acres around Lake Whatcom, resulting in the new park benefiting everyone in Whatcom County.
Seth Cool, Spokane
I had the pleasure of working at Conservation Northwest for a decade, specializing in state and local policy. When I first started, it was before smart phones and Mitch would to call from the road to have me check his email. I helped on many projects including cattle grazing, invasive species, Blanchard Mountain, the Lake Whatcom Preserve, and wildlife issues. I’m currently wrapping up a Master’s in urban planning at the University of Idaho and hope to get a job soon building better bike paths. Here’s to another 25 years of leadership from Conservation Northwest!
Alexandra Loeb, Seattle
I have been with Conservation Northwest since the Loomis campaign, and joined the board in 2003. Every year I continue to be impressed by the scale of Conservation Northwest’s work and their unique and effective approaches. Over the years I have gotten to know Mitch and all the staff—and am continuously blown away by their passion, dedication and smarts. I can almost even follow Jen’s rapid fire talks now! I look back over the years and can’t believe all that we have accomplished and I’m excited by all that we will continue to do.
Jennifer Ferenstein, Missoula
I worked for Conservation Northwest, then Northwest Ecosystem Alliance in the late 1990s where I was hired to do outreach around ecosystem management. I was lucky to work with Mitch, Joe, Evan, and Dave and several other very lovely staff people. Luckily for me I had the chance to help launch the Loomis State Forest work and to live in a great house in ‘I’ Street in Bellingham and to make good friends. However, I succumbed to the siren song of Missoula (where I had previously lived) and returned to continue my conservation work for The Ecology Center, the state of Montana, Sierra Club, and The Wilderness Society. I always loved working for Northwest Ecosystem Alliance (aka Conservation Northwest) and still miss the camaraderie and good cheer.
Emily Barnett Highleyman, Bellingham
Conservation Northwest is like the best older sibling one could imagine for the environment—fun, smart, rooted in values, loyal, and always looking out for its best interests. As former staff and board member, I’ve watched the organization grow and adapt over the past 18 years and I remain wowed by its consistent focus, expertise, and creativity in the face of challenging politics and economics. If you care about natural places and all the interconnected parts of our ecosystem (as well as our own sanity and quality of life) you can do no better than to support Conservation Northwest. I am proud to be part of its family!
Jim Clark, Lake Stevens
I’m proud to be a part of the Cascades Citizen Wildlife Monitoring Project. I’m especially honored to have a wolverine named after me. To learn that four wolverines have now been identified is awesome! It is amazing what the wildlife biologists can discover through the camera photos and DNA hair snags and how it fits into the larger picture. It’s rewarding to know that the effort to create and maintain these camera sites is important and really does make a difference.
Pat Traut, Rapid City
I have been with Conversation Northwest for over 10 years. It’s the best! After taking early retirement, I now volunteer for the Fish and Game Outdoor Campus wilderness program. I especially enjoy the time I spend with the little ones—they are so eager to learn. What can I say, except keep up the great work you do. My legacy is that I have added Conversation Northwest as a beneficiary in my will. Thank you, everyone!
Brian Peterman, North Bend
As a native Seattleite who loves, supports, and recreates in Washington’s national parks and wilderness areas, I became a Wildlife Partner, donating monthly to Conservation Northwest, to preserve, protect, and connect the wild habitats, natural ecosystems, and diversity of wildlife now and in the future. There is no better gift to my children and their children than wild landscapes across our incredible state.
Dave Atcheson, Honolulu
The setting: late 1990s, a timber sale near the Indian Heaven Wilderness, Gifford Pinchot National Forest. Activists with diverse affiliations gather around Dave Werntz for a briefing. “Do you want the ecology talk or the policy talk?” he asks. “Both,” we say. And Dave delivers, without notes, two eloquent, fascinating, and highly informative talks. In this one snapshot are hints of several Conservation Northwest hallmarks: on-the-ground knowledge, bringing people together, guided by science, policy acumen, and a superb staff. It is an honor to have served among them during The Cascades Conservation Partnership and to remain a friend and donor.
Ted Hart, Redmond
I’m a Northwest native and a software developer at Microsoft. I’ve been involved with Conservation Northwest since the Loomis Forest Fund and The Cascades Conservation Partnership. Protecting the environment is very important to me and I’ve been very impressed with Conservation Northwest’s growth in scope and effectiveness. They’ve developed innovative solutions that bring together both sides of the environmental debate to arrive at mutually beneficial solutions—and they do this with an amazingly small staff and budget, truly a testament to their passion and efficiency.
Joseph Joy, Redmond
My wife Chandana and I are long-term residents of the wonderful Pacific Northwest and we have supported Conservation Northwest for many years. My appreciation for what the organization is doing is only growing stronger. There are many things I appreciate in Conservation Northwest: their emphasis on evidence-based decision making; their involving all parties in a collaborative approach that emphasizes mutual respect and long-term thinking; and their focus on the Pacific Northwest and neighboring territories. I look forward to staying involved and continuing my support in the years to come.
Ariel Logan, Bellingham
Among my fondest memories is the time I’ve spent as a Conservation Northwest membership intern. Helping Julia manage the rowdy members and more was a learning experience I wouldn’t trade for anything. The accomplishments that Conservation Northwest has made toward the well-being of wolves, grizzlies, and Lake Whatcom have been almost as impressive as Washington’s Super Bowl win this year! With my AA complete, my plan is to pursue a degree in environmental engineering. Keep up the great work and we just might save the world!
Shelley Spalding, rural Olympia
My job as director of the Greater Ecosystem Alliance’s Wild Salmon and Trout Alliance was my first opportunity to work on salmon restoration from a policy perspective. I learned to be bold and participate in ways that make changes. I worked for USFWS for about 10 years on bull trout recovery and my experience with CNW helped me think critically. I also worked with Dave Wentz a couple of years ago providing comments on the Survey and Manage requirement for the Dosewallips Road EIS. Dave is a pleasure to work with, as was Mitch way back when! Today, as a circuit rider for Great Old Broads for Wilderness, I am really glad Conservation NW is out there doing such good work and has such a talented and informed staff. I appreciate their consistent focus on protection of wild places and the critters that live there.
Fred Ackerman-Munson, Seattle
After 12 years at Greenpeace I was looking for a change. My interview with Mitch went something like this, “We need to buy this forest within a year for somewhere between $10 and $30 million dollars.” So I became the Loomis Forest campaign director of the Loomis Forest Fund and with the help of 3,000 amazing donors raised $18 million and saved that forest. Next came directing the even more audacious Cascades Conservation Partnership (raising $100 million private and public dollars for forests), and somewhere in the middle of that Mitch talking me into being Conservation NW’s deputy director—where I found time to start up a fisher reintroduction project. After 7 years at Conservation NW I was still amazed at what could get done in an organization with zero bureaucracy—all I had to do was call up Mitch and say “let’s do this!”
Heidi Eisenhour, Port Hadlock
For 20 years I have worked on land conservation most recently with Washington Association of Land Trusts. My work with Conservation Northwest on the Loomis Forest and The Cascade Conservation Partnership campaigns were the best professional experiences of my life. I got to work with amazing groups of people characterized by boundless vision and optimism, keen strategy and killer outreach and fundraising skills to protect much of the best of what’s left in Washington State. Conservation NW never fails to impress me with their vision and tenacity. I am proud to be part of the conservation legacy of this “little engine that could” organization.
Demis Foster, Santa Fe
I am proud to have been with Conservation NW blazing the trail during the Cascades Conservation Partnership and Ancient Forest Roadshow. It was an era of big ideas, creativity, innovation and camaraderie.
Confessions of a Doug Hugger
Hula-hoop tree people parade
ZooTunes jamming—water bottles streaming
from Windy Pass to Sawmill Creek.
A Soul Salmon migration with Two Towers
winding across the topo lines of America
to protect big wood.
Because in...ancient forests size really matters.
Paul Balle, Seattle
I was a development officer during the amazing Cascades Conservation Partnership campaign, with an awesome team of fun, hard-working folks. It was a total career change for me—having left Microsoft a year earlier—and it changed my life forever! Thanks to Fred and Mitch for that! Today I’m a major gifts officer fundraising for conservation programs at Woodland Park Zoo, my 10th anniversary is this December. I continue to support Conservation Northwest because you guys are the force protecting critters and habitat in the Northwest. You have a history of success. Keep up the great work!
Joseph Losi, Seattle
2001. Early Saturday morning. Up the worn stairs to retrieve something in that funky Cascades Conservation Partnership Fremont office. Open the door. What the…? Bodies are strung across the floor. Demis and her diehard volunteers are urban camping after hours of tabling the Fremont Fair. Such a tight-knit crew. Relationship, with mission, crew, supporters. Relationship, the foundation of the bridge. A bridge from the TCCP to NWEA to Conservation NW and finally to my work as a couples and individual therapist focused on…relationships. A great journey with excellent companions.
Mark Skatrud, Twisp
Mitch, staff, volunteers, and board have done so much for our corner of the planet. Many critters and lands protected so far, including the lynx and part of the Loomis State Forest, both of which are dear to my heart. Much to do, but Conservation NW will do it! Thank you for being a part of my life.
Rose Oliver, Marblemount
I started volunteering with Conservation NW in 2001 and quickly realized that they were different. They were actually achieving the lofty goals they’d set forth to accomplish and I wanted to be a part of it. Fast forward six years later; I was the outreach director and loving it! If a life changing event hadn’t pulled me away from Bellingham, I’m confident Conservation NW would have been a life-long career. I love the people, the passion, and the results that stem from their big picture, visionary approach to collaboration and landscape connectivity. They are leaving a legacy for future generations, and as a new mom, having hope for a wild future for my children means the world to me.
Alexis Williams, Minneapolis
I worked at Conservation Northwest as a membership associate from 2004-2007, while finishing my college degree. As a young person, my colleagues empowered me, gave me a lot of responsibilities, and provided many skill-building opportunities. My time at Conservation Northwest helped lead me to pursue a career in environmental advocacy. I now work as a policy associate at Fresh Energy, a clean energy organization based in St. Paul. I think fondly of everyone at Conservation Northwest and am proud of the amazing work being done to protect and connect the Northwest’s wild places.
Liz Tanke, Chelan
Grizzlies, wolves, fisher, lynx, owls—I wanted to save them all when I worked on eastside forest issues for Conservation Northwest. It seemed like we always needed more voices, and more eyes and ears in the wild. I really love seeing how this organization engages volunteers in the field, and uses their findings to inspire. I live in gratitude for all of you who are still working to save species and connect habitat, and for my frequent encounters with wildlife in the ponderosa pine forest around my home.
Hudson Dodd, Nelson, NZ
The experience I gained working with the highly strategic and results-oriented team at Conservation Northwest I’m now applying to a community-based endangered wildlife conservation initiative in New Zealand—the Brook Waimarama Sanctuary. It was an honor to serve the forests, wildlife, and future generations of hairless apes as a staffer for “Nuh-WE-ah.” I remember The Cascades Conservation Partnership as a high-water mark for leveraging public conservation funding from private donations—and a very fun campaign.
Jodi Broughton, Bellingham
I have many great memories of people and campaigns from my 14 years at Conservation Northwest. What stands out most vividly is Mitch always pushing the envelope—taking calculated risks for a wilder Northwest and urging his staff to excel. He put me in charge of our name and brand change in 2005 after I had already helped create the organization’s first branded website in 2000. I went in kicking and screaming, but, like most decisions Conservation NW makes, it was absolutely the right one! Now working with an NGO in Belize that is big on planning and management, I appreciate even more how nimble and proactive Conservation Northwest has been over the years.
Drew and Cathy Gaylord, Wenatchee
Conservation NW’s work has helped preserve the wild places in Washington, reaching out to both sides of every issue to find common ground. We chose to volunteer as wildlife monitors because of the real science that is getting done. We have input into the process and feel we are doing a service to the animals. In the field, it is like Christmas every time—we can’t wait to open the camera and see what animals visited our site!
Tom and Kerrie Murphy, Edmonds
Volunteering as a team leader for the Cascade Wildlife Monitoring Project takes us outdoors while making a difference in the community and the community college students we teach. Working with remote cameras and snowtracking provides life changing experiences. Many have their first experience on snow shoes or their first trip into the Cascade Mountains as part of the project. They come away enthused, empowered, informed, and excited about conservation.
Nan Hogan, Seattle
Mitch Friedman continues to be the worthy leader of Conservation NW. I’m proud to have been a constant supporter since its inception and still remember when I wandered one of its first display tables, and was impressed then as well, so many years ago in Seattle, where I was employed at the time. Yeah, Mitch....and the clever, hardworking crew alongside him!
Michael Hinkel, Bellingham
I consider myself a born environmentalist since my parents met in the Sierra Club, 75 years ago, and I grew up loving nature. After I retired as a librarian 15 years ago, Conservation NW set me on the Herculean volunteer task of organizing files. I still water the plants once a week. The staff seem like family to me. They are wonderful and knowledgeable! I encourage others to donate both time and money to help these fine folk carry on their valuable work.