YBEEP Lives On: Letters from the Outgoing & Incoming YBEEP Executive Directors

A letter from the outgoing Executive Director of YBEEP:

CHANGING OF THE SEASONS

We in the Yakima Valley are treated to nature’s spectacle of the changing seasons on a regular basis-the orchards clothed in spring colors, the blue skies and fluffy clouds of summer, the brilliant colors of fall and the fruit harvest, and snow covered mountains of winter.  The changing seasons also witness different phases of the salmon life cycle-the outmigration of smolts and the upstream movement of adult spring Chinook salmon in the spring, followed, a few months later, by the deposition of millions of eggs in the gravel of various streams, as the leaves change into their party colors-the annual ritual of renewal.

 Our personal lives go through seasons, as well.  Since its conception at a local restaurant in the spring of 1991, it has been my privilege and honor to be associated with the Yakima Basin Environmental Education Program (YBEEP).

For the first nine years, Julie Bradley provided the leadership and vision that firmly established YBEEP as one of the best and largest private environmental education entities in the state.  Under her guidance, hundreds of teachers attended natural resource training sessions, and thousands of students benefited from classroom and field sessions dealing with the salmon life cycle, water quality, habitat restoration, riparian zones, wetlands, and other topics.  Julie established the standards of excellence and service to the teachers and students that those of us that followed still strive to achieve.  In addition, Julie set the pattern of hands-on, experiential, interdisciplinary learning that is still the hallmark of YBEEP activities.

In 2000, Julie and her husband decided to retire to the warm sands of Baja and watch the whales and manta rays migrate past their veranda on the Sea of Cortez.  Of course, there was only one way to replace Julie, and that was with another Julie-An exceptional teacher and bundle of energy and ideas named Julie Larson.  Julie’s warm, engaging, personality quickly made her a favorite of students and teachers throughout the Yakima Basin, and YBEEP seemed set for a long run under her leadership.  Tragically, Julie’s tenure was cut short in April, 2003 due to an auto accident.  Even in her relatively brief career at YBEEP, Julie touched the lives of countless people, particularly students, with whom she established a special rapport. 

With considerable trepidation, I stepped in to guide YBEEP through those difficult days, when the future of YBEEP was much in doubt.  The outpouring of help and encouragement for YBEEP did much to sustain the program through the next few months, and the contractual arrangements for the 2003-04 school year were made possible by the diligent assistance and support of Jan Brady, YBEEP’s contracting office at the Bonneville Power Administration, to whom we owe a deep debt of gratitude. 

The past nine years have presented new opportunities and challenges for YBEEP.  The number of Salmon in the Classroom units has greatly increased, with approximately 100 units now helping students learn about salmon life history, habitat requirements, and water quality.  During the 2003-04 school year, YBEEP began to conduct salmon dissections as part of the Salmon in the Classroom activities.  These dissections were an immediate hit and YBEEP now conducts over 100 salmon dissections each school year.  YBEEP’s signature field activity continues to be student observation of spawning spring Chinook salmon in the Cle Elum River.  Last year, for the first time, we were able to offer the opportunity to observe spawning sockeye salmon, thanks to the dedicated reintroduction efforts of the Yakama Nation.  Each fall, approximately 2,000 students, teachers, and chaperones experience the thrill of observing spawning salmon in person, most for the first time.  To provide better access for viewing, YBEEP received an ALEA grant from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and partnered with a number of agencies to construct an ADA trail along the Cle Elum River. 

YBEEP faced another challenge in 2008 with the completion of funding by the Bonneville Power Administration.  In order to qualify for contracts and grants, YBEEP applied for, and was granted, status as a 503(c)3 non-profit organization.  YBEEP now is sustained by various contracts and private donations.  

I cannot close my time with YBEEP without a sincere and huge thank you to my wife, Lynn.  For the past eight years, Lynn has been the glue that kept YBEEP organized and functioning.  For the last four years, she has performed her duties as a full-time volunteer, without salary.  If you have e-mailed YBEEP to schedule a spawning field trip, a salmon dissection, for help setting up your Salmon in the Classroom equipment, requested more fish food, or for any of the many other activities that YBEEP provides, it has been Lynn on this end that answered your inquires and put the schedule together, so your fish food arrived on time or your field trip or classroom activity occurred on the date requested.  In addition, she conducted hundreds of classroom and field sessions, not to mention maintaining all the paperwork, financial records, and creating the YBEEP web site.  YBEEP simply could not have existed over the last 8 years without her dedication and professional expertise.

So, the time has come for us to transition into a new season.  We will miss the many friends that we have made, the inquisitive questions of the students, the occasional “yuck” when we pulled out a salmon liver, and standing on the bank of the river as the students were enthralled by the spawning salmon.  We will miss helping students learn about the natural resources of the Yakima Basin.  However, we take with us rich memories of our time with YBEEP.

Rest assured, YBEEP will continue, under the very capable leadership of Tiffany Bishop.  Please read her welcoming statement below.  Thank you all for a very wonderful and rewarding 21 years.

Bob Tuck

Executive Director August 2003- July 2012

A letter from the incoming Executive Director:

Hello Everyone!

I would like to introduce myself, although some of you already know me, as the new Executive Director of YBEEP (Yakima Basin Environmental Education Program).  My name is Tiffany Bishop, and I have been serving as the Assistant Director.  I started working with YBEEP in 2007 as an Americorps volunteer that served a split-position between YBEEP and the Yakima Basin Fish & Wildlife Recovery Board.  That year by far, was the most inspirational of my life.  My oldest child participated in the Salmon in the Classroom program the previous year (2006), and I loved the idea of bringing this basin-wide issue into the classroom and capturing children’s interest in their outdoor world.  I never dreamed that this kind of position existed – taking kids on field trips, reminding them that nature can be found everywhere – you just have to look and listen, and helping them to see the beauty all around them.  I cannot thank Bob enough for taking me under his wing, inspiring me to return to school and not just finish my BA, but to soar even higher than I believed I was capable.  In 2008 I continued to volunteer and work part-time with both organizations as I returned to college to complete my degree.  In 2009 I received my BA in Geography, with a specialization in Physical Geography (landforms & their formation), and a minor in Environmental Studies.  Following graduation, I continued my education by working towards my Masters in Resource Management, with a specialization in fluvial geomorphology.  My thesis subject is:  The Influence of a 100-year Flood on Wood Accumulation, Channel Geomorphology, and Hyporheic Exchange Following Soft Engineered Wood Placement on an Upper Montane Stream.  It is very rare to be able to gather data both prior to and following a hundred year flood, as well as following the placement of wood instream to improve fish habitat.  Most wood placement involves expensive engineering to guarantee limited downstream transport.  This study was located within public lands, combined with low streamflow, thus allowing for wood to be placed instream with very limited engineering costs.  My research will be very useful to resource managers, who may be able to increase habitat complexity on upper montane streams with greater efficiency and lower costs through the reduction of expensive engineering.

In 2010, I was awarded a fellowship from the W.A.T.E.R.S. (Watershed Activities to Enhance Research in Schools) program at CWU.  This grant is funded by the National Science Foundation, and the mission of the program was to bring graduate level research into K-12 classrooms.  My classroom was an 8th grade pre-algebra class.  We focused on showing students the connections between math and science through evaluation of water quality data they gathered from a nearby site that contained spring water, stormwater effluent, and treated wastewater.

I look forward to this new opportunity for myself and YBEEP.  We are currently working on some new curriculum, including large carnivores that are a personal favorite of mine.  We will continue to support the Salmon in the Classroom Activities, as well as the Furs, Bones, & Feathers Trunks, Stormwater Education, and other previous activities.  Knowing that this is the first week of school for many of you, I will try to keep this short.  I hope to continue to build on the relationships that have grown between YBEEP and the educators of Eastern Washington.  I believe that it is vitally important that our children connect with their outdoor world, both for their health and the future of our special places, as our students grow to voting age and need to make informed decisions.  YBEEP has one of the most successful programs that achieves this goal of getting kids outside, increasing their scientific knowledge, informing them about the many-varied aspects of the issues that affect us today, and allowing them to come to their own conclusions.  The program has a long history of presenting the life history of salmon to students, including the many hardships that make migration difficult, while considering the reliance of the agricultural community on irrigation, as well as the importance of hydroelectricity in our region.  The answers are never simple.  My goal is for students to learn to think about the issues before coming to a conclusion, while hopefully gaining an appreciation for the natural world.

If you have any questions, concerns, or suggestions, please feel free to contact me through the following channels: email me at ybeepdirector@gmail.com at your convenience, or you may call or text me at: (509)731-8794

 

Sincerely,

Tiffany Bishop

Executive Director of YBEEP

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