by Kasey Hovik
On Sunday, May 7th we celebrated the 27th Umpqua Watersheds Annual Membership Banquet. As always, it was great to see so many of our friends and supporters. For the second year in a row, we had the event behind our building. We rented a 20’ x 20’ tent to provide shelter from the sun and/or rain. Unfortunately, the rain poured down about 30 minutes before our committee updates and keynote presentation. Sadly, we were unable to utilize the big-screen television to provide our updates, but I am happy to report that we will have the presentations up online soon. We were able to provide an overview of the Umpqua Outback Project which will create a covered stage and covered seating areas along the side of our building. We launched our Capital Campaign for the project and have already raised over $16,000 of our $50,000 goal to match the in-kind $50,000 of labor and materials we have committed.
The theme of the event this year was “Ecosystems, Natural, and Human – the Importance of Recognizing Interconnectivity.” Our keynote speaker, Marcy Cottrell Houle gave an impassioned presentation of how people have come together to do great things that have improved the quality of life while protecting and celebrating our environment. Her book, “A Generous Nature” captures what people and communities can accomplish when they come together to focus on our shared connections.
Annual Award recipients this year included:
Volunteer of the Year – Tracy Maxwell
Lifetime Volunteer – Francis Etherington
Conservationist of the Year – Kirk Blaine
Lifetime Conservationist – Chuck Schnautz
In my organizational update for the banquet, I discussed how much Umpqua Watersheds has accomplished over the last year as reflected in the updates of our committees of Conservation, Wilderness, Restoration Education, and Outreach. We have a very small paid staff including our Office Manager and Grant Coordinator, Melanie MacKinnon, and our KQUA Program Manager, Patrick Schneider, both are part-time. Our 11-month AmeriCorps Environmental Education and Outreach Leader, Jessica Saxton continues to tradition of outstanding service to our organization. Once again, our organization exceeded over 3,000 hours of volunteer time! Our staff and volunteers work hard to support our mission to protect and celebrate the Umpqua Watersheds, but we need to grow in terms of financial support and volunteers to meet the challenges ahead. Our Outreach Programs are the key to accomplishing those goals and the Umpqua Outback and our KQUA Noncommercial Educational Radio station are strategic initiatives that will enable us to dramatically expand our outreach.
We would like to thank Abacela Winery, Party Time Rentals, Lookingglass Brewery, North Forty Brewing, Two Shy Brewing, Caldera Brewing Co, Ohm Grown, Old Soul Pizza, and Wild Rose Vineyard for contributions to the banquet.