Youth Ambassadors Work to Return Fidalgo Bay Property to its Natural State
A small parcel of land overlooking Fidalgo Bay was a hub of activity last Saturday as 12 high school students with the North Cascade Institute embarked on their first excursion of the year.
Their task was to plant native vegetation and install a memorial bench on the property known as Fidalgo Bay Carstens, named for Ron and Barbara Carstens who donated the land to Skagit Land Trust in 2016.
Skagit Land Trust — an organization that works to conserve natural land — has partnered with the institute’s Youth Ambassadors program since it launched in 2017.
Youth Ambassadors has provided 36 Skagit County high school students with outdoor adventures, service opportunities, college support and leadership development.
The program is free to all high school students and includes a $200 stipend. No equipment or experience is needed.
In fact, Youth Ambassadors coordinator Ethan Rowe said the majority of this year’s 24 participants have never done an extracurricular activity. He said the program is great for students who might not know what they want to do after high school, as it combines skill-building with college preparedness.
Standing on the damp Fidalgo Bay property, Sedro-Woolley High School senior Kayla Potter said that was one of the reasons she decided to become a youth ambassador.
“I connected with Ethan’s message,” the 17-year-old said.
Potter and the other ambassadors were joined by Skagit Land Trust staff and volunteers.
Stewardship Manager Regina Wandler said the Carstens used to have a house on the land, and although they loved the location, they always felt it should be a natural area.
Since acquiring the property, the Trust has been working to re-establish native vegetation and preserve the nearly 1,000 feet of shoreline that provides habitat for forage fish — a type of fish many marine species depend on.
The ambassadors added to that work Saturday by planting Douglas firs, grand firs, maples, native roses and thimble berries.