Awards to honor those who get their hands dirty for the county

  • By Gale Fiege Herald Writer
  • Monday, March 30, 2015 1:59pm
  • Life

MUKILTEO — Snohomish Conservation District staff and local environmental stewardship advocates invite the public to the Better Ground Awards Showcase to hear stories about environmental work being done in the county.

The free event is 5 to 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Rosehill Community Center, 304 Lincoln Ave., Mukilteo. It includes live music, keynote presentations and hors d’oeuvres. Doors open at 4:30 p.m.

People are asked to register at

News about diminishing suitable habitat for wildlife, polluted waterways, acidic oceans and changing climates can seem daunting and depressing, said Laura Goff, the conservation district’s community education coordinator.

But the stories to be told Wednesday should renew hope and a sense of purpose for everyday folks who work to make Snohomish County a better place, she said in a story in the district’s newsletter.

Among those to be honored are Jack McManis, a sophomore at Kamiak High School and an Eagle Scout with Boy Scout Troop 18. He volunteered hundreds of hours to help create an outdoor learning classroom at Mukilteo Elementary and wildlife habitat from what used to be a fortress of nonnative blackberry vines.

Diana Cantini, a seventh grader at Explorer Middle School in Mukilteo, volunteered with Farmer Frog, a local nonprofit organization that turns overgrown low-income schoolyards into hubs that produce fresh fruits and vegetables for the community. Diana works at the Olivia Park Elementary School gardens.

Carlos Aranda, a fifth grader at Discovery Elementary School in Mukilteo, is the president of his school’s Verde Garden Club. The school started their gardens only one year ago and Carlos has been one of the most dedicated and enthusiastic leaders.

Camano Island’s Utsalady Elementary School Principal Colleen Keller is this year’s Better Ground Showcase Educator of the Year for her commitment to creating a culture of environmental stewardship at her school. One of her mandates was a recycling program that cut in half the landfill waste produced by the school.

Schools in Snohomish County can apply for help from the Snohomish Conservation District to work on environmental projects. For more information, contact Goff at 425-377-7018 or

Gale Fiege: 425-339-3427; Twitter: @galefiege.

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