Friday Harbor Youth Storm the Capitol!  

This month, Friends’ Community Science and Education Director, Jess Newley, hopped in a van with six students from the Friday Harbor Eco Club and Katie Fleming, San Juan County’s Solid Waste Coordinator. This enthusiastic crew then went to Olympia for a full day of action, fun, and information in the State’s capital!  

Representative Alex Ramel, shared, “It was a lot of fun to get to connect with the students from the Friday Harbor High School Eco Club. It’s inspiring to hear how much enthusiasm they bring for protecting our climate and the Salish Sea. I hope we showed them a little glimpse of how government operates and how we can work together effectively to make the world a bit better each day.”  

Highlights of their day on the Hill include:   

  • Meeting with our 40th District Representative, Alex Ramel, where students shared their experiences growing up on the islands and their concerns for Climate Change.   
  • Getting a personal tour of the House floor with Representative Ramel. 
  • Meeting with the Washington Association of Counties Solid Waste Managers and Representatives Beth Doglio and Liz Berry; the students observed how county government officials interact with the state legislative process regarding budgeting issues and waste bills, such as the WRAP act.  
  • Sharing the student’s Samsung competition proposal with Representative Debra Lekanoff and getting her advice on how to support and fund recycling and composting efforts in schools. 
  • Writing postcards and hand delivering them to the Senate, as well as a thank you card to Governor Inslee for supporting Climate Change Policy and the futures of our youth.  
  • Attending the House Energy and Environment Committee meeting. 
  • Watching the House Floor action and seeing how bills are voted on and passed through the floor. 

Here are some things students had to say about their jammed packed day in Olympia!  

“My favorite part was getting to watch the action on the floor and seeing how supportive they all are to each other. I learned that the process of voting for bills in the house was different than what I thought it was and that representatives are a lot more busy than I imagined.”  

“My favorite part of the trip to Olympia was being able to observe the law-making process in person, which was a lot more interesting than the School House Rock video, I learned about the bills that would affect our islands, community and wildlife.”   

“My favorite part was getting the opportunity to meet with Representatives and observe the meetings that were going on. I learned that a lot of the process happens “in the background” in meetings like the ones we got to attend, not just in the votes on the house floor.”  

“My favorite part was [receiving a shout-out from the Speaker of the House], and I learned that it is more casual than I ever could have imagined.” 

We chose to live on the westside of San Juan Island because of its natural beauty, and we want to preserve it for future generations. That’s where the Friends of the San Juans come in. Since their inception, they have been the guardians of the Salish Sea and this place we call home.

Glen and Deb Bruels

members, San Juan Island