Ahh, Valentine’s Day – that celebration of all things pink and lovey, when we spend hours looking through racks of cards, flowers, candy, and jewelry to wow that special someone. Why not make it easier on yourself and earn a free luxury dinner for two, simply by shopping for everyday groceries?
Dining-related gifts accounted for almost 35% of Valentines spending in recent years. With more than 60% of consumers jumping on the pink and red bandwagon (resulting in 11,000 children conceived as a result!), it can be a delightful—if overwhelming—mid-winter holiday.
Ralph’s and Bayview Thriftway have long been a source of inspiration, top quality ingredients, and committed community involvement. This year they’re proud to again offer their ‘Steak and Lobster for Two’ promotion where daily purchases can result in the holiday meal of your dreams.
Through February 12, every dollar spent counts as 1 Cupid Point in your ThrifteCard wallet. The ThrifteCard program is not only free but counts towards specialty food rewards; it earns special offers, event notification, and electronic receipts. When you’ve acquired 400 points, you’re eligible for two 4 ounce lobster tails and two 12 ounce sirloin steaks, to be picked up on February 13 and 14.
Storman’s Marketing Manager Carly Brettmann explains that “people love this promotion because they don’t have to change their normal shopping routine and they earn themselves a great dinner as a reward of continuing to shop with us.” She estimates that they gave away almost 400 dinners last year to their faithful ThrifteCard members.
With more than 50% of home-cooking consumers classifying their skills as “confident in the kitchen,” turning Valentine’s into a night of decadence isn’t hard. Steak and lobster are a safe bet for gluten-free and paleo diets, and require little more than heat, salt, and pepper to impress. Add one of Thriftway’s stellar bottles of wine, some oysters on the side, a sweet treat for dessert, and a bouquet to set the mood and you’re sure to put a smile on anyone’s face.
Need another exciting reason to drop in to your neighborhood Thriftway? The same dollars=points that will earn your Valentine’s dinner also enter you into their Big Game Giveaway. Through January 28, purchases with your ThrifteCard also enter you to win a 40” Samsung LED HDTV with 1080p display and SmartTV capability. The winner will be announced on Thursday, January 29 so you’ll have plenty of time to set it up before the Superbowl comes our way.
Whether shopping or browsing, looking for unique ingredients or inspiration, Thriftway is sure to have exactly what you need. Either way, it’s worth a visit in January; the results could put a much-needed spring in your step for the remainder of winter’s dreary visit.
Bayview Thriftway is located in downtown Olympia at 516 West 4th and Ralph’s can be found at 1908 East 4th. Call or stop by for additional contest details.
Matter Gallery is closing at the end of the month. Matter has been part of the recycle art scene since September 2009, featuring art work made from repurposed, upcycled, and/or sustainable materials created by artists up and down the west coast, many of them our friends from the Pacific Northwest.
It was a colorful, eclectic place, crammed full of interesting and unusual things, like Pat Tassoni‘s lamps “…culled from the consumer detritus of the American wasteland and reverse-engineered with alien technology;” the paintings and furniture made with wooden boats, sail remnants, and other odd stuff by George Kurzman; Micki Shampang-Voorhies‘ “kinky shoes” made from scrap metal and old tools; rustic reclaimed metal sculpture by Pattie Young; Loran Scruggs‘ bottle cap whistles and tin assemblages; Jennifer Kuhns’ mosaics; Stu Gullstrand‘s masks made from junk he finds along the railroad tracks and in dumpsters (really, I have taken walks with him and his dog in their SoDo neighborhood); plastic bag babies and soda pop top jewelry by Ruby Re-Usable; and Steven Suski’s paintings and assemblages.
“For me it was great having my art at Matter to validate artists who make art out of junk or recycled material. Matter’s art pushed my boundaries of what art can be made of and what can be art. Matter’s closing is a real loss of diversity for Olympia’s art community.” — artist Steven Suski, on the closing of Matter Gallery
By Kathryn Millhorn
As of November 2014, there were more than 9 million unemployed workers in our country. While these numbers may fluctuate by season, industry, and region, it’s still a staggering statistic. Successful employment is often the result of a combined team effort. Whether through networking, training, or word-of-mouth, we all rely on others to find that perfect fit.
Aristotle once said, “Pleasure in the job puts perfection in the work” and nowhere is that seen more than local small businesses that employ clients of Morningside’s Community Rehabilitation Program. This is a private, not-for-profit group which offers training and job placement for local individuals with disabilities. Morningside began more than 50 years ago and employs nearly 100 staff to cover six western Washington counties.
Locally, one business showcasing this winning partnership is the Retail Services of America (RSA) Shell gas station on Cooper Point Road near the Olympia Auto Mall. General Manager Eugene Zuniga and his team recently won Morningside’s 2014 Outstanding Employer Award for the quarter for “setting an example for how people with disabilities should be respected by customers and creating customized jobs that uniquely fit skill sets and interests. A great example of an accommodation is the way RSA Shell motivates employees based on their unique individual motivating factors. RSA Shell cares about the person as a whole and not just as an employee,” says Morningside employment consultant Sarah Stone.
Stone explains that the store’s success is a true team effort. “General Manager Eugene Zunigo is ambitious, open-hearted, and a positive natural support. He would like to hire more clients if it were possible.”
“This natural support that he offers trickles down to his employees who work with Morningside clients,” continues Stone. “Eugene checks in with the Morningside clients on a regular basis to inquire how they like their employment and how they are being treated by coworkers and customers. He talks about job safety and other generalities. Due to his example, Eugene’s employees also interact with Morningside clients in this way. They have become positive and inclusive natural supports, working with Morningside to ensure that each Morningside client has the support that they need to be successful.”
Shell employee, David McDonald, echoes this as well. “Morningside employees are great employees. They show up on time every time they are scheduled with positive can do attitudes. I’ve noticed that they bring smiles not only to my regular employees but to my customers as well. Once you give them defined tasks, they are excited to get to work which can be hard to find these days.”
Currently the RSA Shell employs four Morningside clients: Barbara, Rodney, Nick, and Trent. They have been at the station from 4-17 months and all work with a tremendous sense of pride. Whether their chief goal is a paycheck or free soda and new friendships, these industrious employees bring a smile to everyone they meet.
Stone and McDonald agree that the station “runs like clockwork. The supported employees that work there ensure that the gas pumps, convenience store, Oly Burger, Car Wash grounds, and the office is presentable to the public and clean for co-workers. The floors in the kitchen are deep cleaned everyday helping Shell pass health inspection and making the work place safer for their employees. Customers love to interact with Morningside clients, giving RSA Shell a reputation for being diverse and welcoming to all members of the community.”
Morningside employees typically fall into two responsibility levels for their assigned job coach. Some coaches periodically check in to ensure goals are being met while others stay on-site for the duration of the shift. Morningside coaches also work to implement skills taught by the organization’s job development team. This group provides interview practice, job skill preparation, and community/employer outreach.
The U.S. Department of Labor explains that “as the nation’s largest minority—comprising almost 50 million individuals—people with disabilities contribute to diversity, and businesses can enhance their competitive edge by taking steps to ensure they are integrated into their workforce… Perhaps more than any other group of people, individuals with disabilities have the ability to adapt to different situations and circumstances. As employees, they add to the range of viewpoints businesses need to succeed, offering fresh ideas on how to solve problems, accomplish tasks and implement strategies.”
It’s often difficult to see ideas put into action but the RSA Shell and Morningside have done just that. Stop by to see for yourself—and say hi—at their 2125 Caton Way location, just off the Hwy 101 Auto Mall exit.
Information about Morningside and their programs can be found online or by calling 360-943-0512.
Have you seen the Orcas visiting Budd Inet? Have you tried one of our winter walks? Have you sampled the pubs in our pub crawl? With a diverse of stories filtering across our home page you are certain to find something interesting. We strive to provide informative articles about the people, businesses and organizations doing good things in our community – plus, we love to highlight the local culture, nature and experiences that you can have in Olympia. How are we doing? Share your comments and story ideas with us. We welcome your notes at email@example.com.
Here’s what is going on around Olympia this weekend.
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ThurstonTalk aims to be your source for positive information and events happening in Olympia. If you have a suggestion for a post, send us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more events and to learn what’s happening in Olympia and the surrounding area, click here.
Submitted by Pacific Mountain Workforce Development
On January 12, sixteen transitioning service members from Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM) began their 13 week fellowship through the newly launched Heroes Corporate Fellowship Academy. This one of a kind program will provide fellows an opportunity to learn through hands on experience with a corporate leader in the Seattle area, and additionally through 120 hours of in classroom corporate management training at City University of Seattle.
“The Fellowship Academy is a first in the nation program for transitioning service personnel. It represents the very best in collaboration between the military, the public workforce system and corporate America. The program matches talented individuals with the needs of our businesses. They previously served our country and now can serve the local economy….triple win!” – Cheryl Fambles, CEO of Pacific Mountain Workforce Development.
This Fellowship developed in partnership between Camo2Commerce, a program of Pacific Mountain Workforce Develop, and Hiring Our Heroes, a program of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, will provide transitioning service members with at least 10 years of leadership experience the opportunity to gain familiarity in the civilian market prior to transitioning. Each of the Fellows will be hosted by a participating corporate partners – ThyssenKrupp Aerospace NA, Amazon, Starbucks, Fred Hutch Cancer Research Center, Compass Group, Thurston Economic Development Council, TrueBlue, Inc., Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber of Commerce, and Williams-Sonoma.
“The overarching goal in providing this enhanced educational fellowship opportunity with select industry partners is to provide a transition service that currently does not exist. The Heroes Corporate Fellowship Academy provides educational, networking, training opportunities, and potential employment within a wider array of industries for experienced transitioning service members.” – Justin Constantine, wounded veteran and senior consultant at the U.S. Chamber Foundation’s Hiring Our Heroes program.
Starting this week on JBLM, the 16 service members from the U.S. Army and U.S. Air Force, will be spending four days in the classroom beginning to transition their military leadership skills to what they will need for their next mission of working for corporate America. Following the first week through the end of the Academy, the Fellows will spend Monday through Wednesday with their host, learning through hands on experience. They will have the opportunity to not only learn about the company, and refine their networking abilities, but will be working on projects that will hone their skills. On Thursdays, the Fellows will be back in the classroom gaining additional knowledge that will supplement their learning in areas such as project management, business writing, and other topics necessary for success in their transition. Fridays will be available for each of the Fellows to continue their service obligations, and efforts needed to transition. The 13 weeks will culminate with a graduation.
Ultimately we believe this experience will enable these Fellows the opportunity to maximize their experience in serving us proudly by learning the skills needed to be successful in transitioning into careers in corporate America.
“This project could not be successful without the partnership with Hiring Our Heroes, as they provided much needed expertise that supplements, what Camo2Commerce brings to the table and, of course, the ongoing support from the Command Staff at JBLM, who saw the vision in this project. Along the way, we have also received support in developing this program from ThyssenKrupp Aerospace, the Washington State Employment Security Department, Combat Power Essentials, Tacoma-Pierce Chamber of Commerce, WorkForce Central and additional funding support from Operation: GoodJobs.” – Sean Murphy, Camo2Commerce Project Director.
Additional Information can be found at: Camo2Commerce.com/heroes/
Camo2Commerce: This full service transition program is a U.S. Department of Labor funded pilot project working to integrate the public workforce system into the JBLM transition process. Working with transitioning service members from JBLM on a one-on-one level, Camo2Commerce has successfully placed over 250 service members into employment.
Hiring Our Heroes: Hiring Our Heroes is a nationwide initiative to help veterans, transitioning service members, and military spouses find meaningful employment. Working with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s vast network of state and local chambers and other strategic partners from the public, private and nonprofit sectors, Hiring Our Heroes has helped hundreds of thousands of veterans and military spouses find meaningful employment
Submitted by Thurston County
System offers improved document management
Thurston County officials move one step closer toward implementation of a new Case Management System (CMS) for Superior Courts and County Clerks in Washington State.
The Thurston County Superior Court Judges, Presiding Judge Carol Murphy and Thurston County Clerk Linda Myhre Enlow along with the Thurston County Commissioners are unified in their decision to implement the document management system component of the new statewide case management system. Linda Myhre Enlow and Superior Court Judge Christine Schaller formally presented this decision to Callie Dietz, Washington State Court Administrator, and the Project Steering Committee on January 13 during their regular monthly meeting.
“Implementation of this integrated document management system will provide easy access to court documents, the ability to store documents locally and is cost effective to maintain. This system will benefit all parties involved.” said Enlow. She says there will also be financial savings to the county over the long-term which benefits everyone.
Thurston County officials will work closely in collaboration with Tyler Technologies and the Washington State Administrative Office of the Courts to facilitate development and implementation of the case management system.
Submitted by the City of Lacey
The Lacey City Council is currently recruiting for a professional vacancy on the Historical Commission with a term that is set to expire September 13, 2016. Applications will be accepted through January 31.
The Lacey Historical Commission provides leadership in historic preservation and developing information concerning the historical significance of the local Lacey area. The Historical Commission meets the 3rd Wednesday of the month at 6:00 p.m. Historical Commission members serve three-year terms with a two-term limit. Because this position will be filling a vacancy, the appointed commissioner will be eligible for reappointment for two full terms after this term is set to expire.
The vacancy must be filled by a professional who has experience in evaluating historic resources. A person with a background as an architect, historian, or planner would qualify for the position. Applicants for this vacancy can be either a resident of the City of Lacey or reside within Lacey’s Urban Growth Area.
If you are interested in serving on the Lacey Historical Commission, and would like to receive an application, please contact Jenny Bauersfeld at (360) 413-4387, or by email at email@example.com. You may also download an application from the City’s website. Please submit a letter of interest and resume along with your application.
Submitted by Barb Lally for Rob Rice Homes
The two largest generations today are out looking for homes.
With more than 75 million “Baby Boomers” in the U.S. and even more “Millennials”, their home preferences are in high demand and Rob Rice Homes is responding to the need with superior selections and quality choices for both generations.
The well-known Baby Boomers are searching for their perfect retirement home to safely invest their hard-earned resources and home equity.
With the improving economy, the under-35 Millennials are finally getting good-paying jobs, marrying and looking for a home to set down roots and start on the road to personal wealth-building with homeownership.
All have the convenient location, a choice of thoughtful floor plans and long lasting home value that satisfies both of these huge demographics.
The Millennials: Location, Location, Location
Since they have delayed their entry into the market, many Millennials are skipping the idea of a one bedroom condo starter home and are looking for a place where they can raise a family and build equity.
When surveyed about their preferences, the Millennials overwhelmingly say they want to live in neighborhoods near the hubs of activity they are used to and close to everything they need—coffee shops, work, restaurants, bars and transportation—something they will find in Rob Rice Communities that have been developed with a vision for community convenience.
For the Millennial, the single most important feature of the home itself is its floor plan. They are looking for well-built homes that are cost- and energy-efficient with open floor plans that reflect how this group likes to socialize and live casually.
The brand new Noble plan at the gorgeous Rob Rice Community of Campus Peak easily facilitates that relaxed living. The homes there are set among beautiful Northwest backdrops and are within minutes of the bustling and amenity-rich Hawks Prairie business area and easy access to I-5.
The Rob Rice Community of Kensington in Lacey is within walking distance to vast community resources including a large home improvement store, coffee shop, local watering hole, a myriad of restaurants, and three grocery stores and yet it uniquely borders the forested Western Chehalis Trail for biking and jogging enthusiasts.
Kensington has floor plans with kitchens that open out to a light and bright great room for the casual living that Millennials enjoy. These gorgeous homes are built with upscale features that are included in the price of the home and Millennials will also appreciate maintenance-free front lawns for their active lifestyles.
At the Villages at South Hill the Legacy series or “cottage homes” provide low- maintenance living and a reasonable price. These homes have become a popular choice for first-time homebuyers as well as retirees. They are nested around a park-like green space creating community and convenience while the community lawns are fully maintained.
Boomers want their Best Home Ever
Studies show that four out of five Boomers want to “age in place” and are therefore looking for location convenience as well a floor plan that allows easier living.
They often are looking to downsize from their family home and want to sink their resources from its sale into upgrading their next home. They have worked hard and want to enjoy a community with carefree living, little lawn maintenance and, like the Millenials, close to community amenities.
The Rob Rice Community of the Villages at South Hill has drawn a lot of attention from retiring Baby Boomers not only in the South Sound but from King County and beyond.
It’s convenient location to Puyallup’s South Hill and its stunning floor plans for ramblers and homes with downstairs master bedrooms, have made the homes a fitting choice for Boomers. Rob Rice has responded to the huge demand for these homes in the Phase II development of this sought-after community, set to open late winter of 2015.
Chestnut Village in Olympia and Evergreen Heights in Lacey are also superior Rob Rice Communities that offer floor plans for this generation. The convenient locations, the fully-landscaped yards, the many premium features have made these homes a popular choice for retirees.
All of these homes have quality cabinetry finishes, handsome hardwood floors, shiny granite or quartz countertops, designer backsplash tile and stylish lighting that are standard in the cost of the homes making them an incomparable value.
Both generations seek Value
Both of these generations are “value-conscious” when it comes to spending their money on a home.
Millennials are cautious because of what they experienced in the recession and Boomers have worked their entire lives for their money. Both want uncompromising quality and long-term investment value.
“We are known for the superior quality of our homes that maintain or often increase their value over the years,” says Rob Rice, who was voted the Best of South Sound builder for 2013. “They are some of the finest-built homes in the area providing the true value buyers seek. That is good news for any generation.”
For sales information:
Campus Peak and Chestnut Village: Contact the Coldwell Banker Team of Jeanne Tranum, Vonna Madeley & Leslie Shipe: www.coldwellbankerteam.com.
Evergreen Heights: Contact Jessica Volkman of Epic Realty, Inc at Jessica@robricehomes.com
Kensington: Contact Lucia Arroyo of Epic Realty, Inc. at firstname.lastname@example.org
Villages at South Hill: Contact Heather Keating of Epic Realty, Inc at Heather@robricehomes.com.
For information on Rob Rice Homes go to: www.robricehomes.com.
Rob Rice is Thurston County’s largest local home builder and was voted the Best of South Sound for 2013. He has built more than 3000 homes over the last 30 years. He and his wife Helena live in Olympia with their two sons; Alex Michael and Carson. Rob is a graduate of Washington State University with degrees in construction management and architecture.
Was John Tornow a murderous wildman or misunderstood loner? Veteran newsman Bill Lindstrom has pursued the truth about John Tornow for almost 3 decades. The outcome of this work is a new book, “John Tornow: Villain or Victim?” Lindstrom will present a slide show and discuss the book, the research and the Tornow legend at the Lacey Timberland Library on Saturday, January 31 from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m.
This meticulously researched history reads like a blend of mystery and tragedy as it reinterprets the life of an enigmatic man accused of heinous crimes. A veteran news reporter, Lindstrom poured over century-old court documents, transcriptions, contemporary news articles and interviews to produce an authoritative and compassionate account. He brings the Tornow family’s life and times alive, describing the daily routines and personal sorrows that led up to multiple murders, a 19-month manhunt and an enduring Northwest legend. Books will be available for sale and signing at this event. All programs at Timberland libraries are free and open to the public.
The Lacey Timberland Library is located at 500 College Street SE. For information, contact the library at (360) 491-3860 or visit www.TRL.org.
Media Contact: R.J. Burt, Public Relations Specialist, 704-4508; 877-284-6237 x 2508Google Plus One Facebook Like
By Jennifer Crooks
Rebecca Howard is one of the most famous women to have lived in early Olympia. Although information on her is limited, she clearly lived a fascinating life. As an African American woman in the late mid-nineteenth century, she faced great prejudice and racism. In spite of this, she became a successful businesswoman and a beloved Olympia citizen in the eyes of many locals.
Rebecca H. Groundage was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1827 or 1829. Very little is known of her early life, even her exact age, except that she was perhaps born into slavery. On November 2, 1843 she married a 33-year old African American cooper (barrel maker) named Alexander Howard in New Bedford, Massachusetts.
By 1859, the Howards had moved west to Olympia. Very few African Americans lived in Washington Territory at that time. Despite being such a small minority, racism and prejudice were all too common and many sources about the Howards are full of racist gibes and stereotyping.
The Howards became hotel keepers, leasing and later buying the “Pacific House,” a hotel and restaurant originally built in 1854 and operated by Colonel William Cock. Located at what is now the corner of State Street and Capitol Way, it soon became both the leading hotel and best restaurant in Olympia. On September 9, 1859 the Pioneer and Democrat advertised the hotel under Alexander’s name, though later advertisements would be in his wife’s name. The Howards promised “to maintain the reputation this establishment has ever sustained since its opening as the BEST HOUSE in town.”
Rebecca Howard was the chief manager of the Pacific House and both her and her husband served as cooks. Mrs. Howard was clearly the face of the Pacific House as “hostess,” becoming the person most associated with the hotel. Under her excellent management, the Pacific House became the leading hotel in Olympia and thus one of the most prominent hotels in the Territory.
The Pacific House was largely successful and the Howards were noted as being some of the wealthiest people in Olympia. As the leading hotel in town, the building often served as a headquarters of lawmakers and lobbyists from the nearby Territorial Legislature. The large front room was nicknamed “the platform of the Republican party” as party organizers often met there, even using it as a headquarters. Also, many visiting dignitaries stayed at the hotel including President Hayes and Generals Sherman, McDowell and Scott.
Although the Howards had no children of their own, they adopted Isaac Ingalls Stevens Glasgow (1857-1926), the son of Thomas W. Glasgow and a Native American woman. Many people believed that Glasgow had been mistreating his son. The Howards renamed the young man Frank Alexander Howard, the name he kept the rest of his life.
Rebecca Howard died on Sunday, July 10, 1881 of a stroke at the age of 54. Many mourned her death. Even John Miller Murphy, editor of the Washington Standard newspaper who was well noted for his racism, wrote kindly that “she was one of our oldest residents, and had many warm friends.” In her will, Mrs. Howard divided her property evenly between her son and husband.
Alexander died nine years later and was buried next to his wife in Tumwater’s Masonic Memorial Park.
Various stories have been recorded about Rebecca Howard, especially about how she was addressed by others. Many people tried to call her “Aunt Becky” which was racially condescending. Rebecca allowed only her close friends to call her that, firmly asserting she was to be addressed as “Mrs. Howard,” a title of respect, by everyone else. For instance, when the newly installed Governor Pickering called her “Aunt Becky” she responded that she was neither the sister of his mother nor father.
Frank Howard eventually sold the Pacific House to a Captain Hambright who operated a saloon in the building. Frank became a prominent citizen and businessman, later moving back east with his wife Lillie and their children. The Pacific House fell into disrepair and was demolished in September 1902. This was a considerable loss to Olympia’s heritage. Serving for a time as the pole yard for the Olympia Telephone Company, the site is now a parking lot next to the Bread Peddler.
Rebecca Howard is a remarkable person in the history of Olympia who deserves to be remembered. In the 19th century era of racism and sexism, she was able to create a prosperous business and achieve considerable popularity. B.F. Kendall in his Overland Press newspaper on November 10, 1862 made the following observation about Rebecca Howard: “She is the capital feature of the Capital—a permanent and indispensable [part] of Olympian society—a walking index of kitchen comforts and the art of cuisine…and were we to meet an Olympian in Greece or Turkey at dinner, the third most natural question we should expect to be asked would be: ‘Does Becky still survive?’”
Jennifer Crooks. “Rebecca Howard: A Determined 19th Century Businesswoman” in Drew Crooks, ed. Olympia, Washington: A People’s History (Olympia, WA: City of Olympia), 2009.
Ladd Allison. “The Respectable Aunt Becky.” July 1977. http://digitum.washingtonhistory.org/cdm/ref/collection/digipubs/id/4714
Gordon Newell. Rouges, Buffoons & Statesmen. Seattle, WA: Hangman Press, 1975.
By Jean Janes
Just shy of the Thurston County line, the Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge is a world of trees, damselflies, and bird song. Seeking some fresh air and education, my son and I took a day to wander the trails at this lovely place.
Like most four-year-olds, my son will only focus on the most engrossing things for fleeting moments. Luckily, the Refuge offers a couple of activities with the youngest nature enthusiasts in mind, such as a Nature Explore Area as well as a Junior Refuge Manager Program.
Both activities are fun and provide me, as a parent trying to teach my son to enjoy and safeguard nature, resources with which to direct my son’s attention toward learning about the Nisqually Refuge and the life it protects.
We start at the Visitor Center where we spend some time looking over the educational exhibits there. We take our time exploring a relief map of the region, reading some information on local wildlife we can expect to see, as well as watching some short videos about the mission of the National Refuges across the country. We then head to the counter where we are given a pamphlet and pencil. Armed with these tools, my son and I set off on the Twin Barns Loop Trail to earn him his “Junior Refuge Manager” badge and certificate.
Designed for kids from three-to-eleven and divided into age groups, my son applies himself to the three-to-seven age appropriate activities. The first item in his pamphlet is a list of items to try to find along the trails. These are items that most kids will enjoy looking at, but thanks to our list, we are sure to take notice. The list includes things like “a tree with leaves larger than your face,” a “nurse log (a fallen tree that has other plants growing from it),” and “something that smells.”
The list also reminds me of things that are worthy of special attention and an explanation for my son. A nurse log, for example, is a profound concept of death and rebirth that I hope he will remember in other contexts throughout his life. Even if this lesson does not stick this time, at least he finds it fascinating to see what happens to fallen logs.
Besides the checklist, there are some pictures to color, an area for him to draw his favorite Nisqually Refuge experience, and the pledge that all new Junior Refuge Managers must sign and promise to honor. They are excellent promises, such as picking up litter, recycling, and continuing their nature education. They are values I am always trying to instill, but the Nisqually Refuge gives my son a badge and certificate to seal the deal, and he takes his new duties very seriously. His certificate of training is now prominently displayed in our home while his badge will certainly remain a treasured item.
We stop intermittently just to be still and listen. Damselflies flitter close enough for us to inspect their shimmery blue and then dart away before tiny fingers can get ahold. The bird song titters and warbles and I love the look on my son’s face as he begins to hear and understand how each one is the call of a different bird. There are plaques along our trail which give information to describe a few fowl we may be hearing—herons, wrens, sandpipers, and swallows. I do not know nearly enough about birds to identify which music belongs to which, but perhaps I have sparked an interest for my son and maybe someday he will be able to match them up for me.
After an invigorating mile of walking and investigating, we head down the road to the Environmental Education Center where the Nature Explore Area is located. While the Education Center is only open by appointment for schools and field trips, the Nature Explore Area is open to all kids, with children ages two to eight in mind. With activities such as giant logs to climb through and a corner just for digging, my son has great time. Clean air, clean dirt, and a whole lot of interesting things I know he’ll remember, this has been a fun day for us both.
It is a gift to be able to provide a magical place, unsullied and wild, for my son to appreciate. Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge not only represents nature preserved, but it also serves as a reminder of what we are passing on. My hope is that he will remember the musical sounds, his promises to take care of our natural resources, and, of course, the joy of digging holes in the Nature Explore Area.
Thrifty Thurston highlights inexpensive family fun in Thurston County. The weekly series focuses on family-friendly activities throughout our community. If you have a suggestion for a post, send us a note at email@example.com. For more events and to learn what’s happening in Olympia and the surrounding area, click here.