Program Highlights


Monthly Update – November 2023

Students from Tumwater School District show off their goofy side while wearing fun polarized salmon glasses that help them to better see the fish under the water.

Fall water quality testing is coming to an end with the last of these trips at the beginning of December, but they are not over just yet! Student scientists continued working diligently to test the water within the South Sound GREEN watersheds through field trips and classroom visits. Also this month, we met students at McLane Nature Trail for chum salmon field trips! Chum salmon started returning to the South Sound in the past few weeks and students have had the chance to see them spawning in McLane Creek! Students love to see the fish splashing, digging, and fighting with one another, but these trips also offer a chance to enjoy the forest and see the wetlands. The nature trail is an excellent space to learn about riparian forests, wetland ecosystems, beavers, and human impacts adding to the experience for the students. In such an environment, students can make connections between the water quality testing they recently did and the salmon they see in the creek. It also offers the chance for students to consider the ways that the forest, the wetlands, and the salmon all interact and depend on one another.

The Teens in Thurston (TnT) event for the month was at Kennedy Creek Salmon Trail with the South Puget Sound Salmon Enhancement Group during their Salmon Celebration! High school volunteers helped coordinate the kids activities at this event and after their hard work got a tour of the salmon spawning in the creek! Overall a great day! If you, or someone you know, is a high school student interested in community service hours in the outdoors, we would love to see you – please contact Sam Nadell at to learn more!


Monthly Update – October 2023

Students work with their teacher on testing the dissolved oxygen present in the water at their water quality test site!

It is officially Water Quality Monitoring season which means it has been an exciting and busy month here at South Sound GREEN! Our weeks have been filled with teacher coordination and chemical preparation as well as field trips! We have been working out in the field with students from North Thurston elementary schools on their Watershed Explorers Field Days and have been meeting students in their classrooms to help prepare them for teacher-led water quality field days. From Boston Harbor to Rainier, hundreds of Thurston County students across the South Sound GREEN watershed region have been out testing rivers, lakes, and streams this month to see just how healthy our south sound water systems are. Students test the pH, turbidity, nitrates, dissolved oxygen, and temperature present at their site with the intention of determining how healthy the water is for salmon. Discussions of how to improve water quality take place at the site and in the classroom which encourage student-led action projects to help raise awareness of certain water quality concerns. 

This month Teens in Thurston (TnT) volunteers participated in Orca Recovery Day with Thurston Conservation District and the City of Olympia at Squaxin Park. High school students worked with community members to pull invasive ivy and plant native trees and shrubs along Mission Creek within the park. If you, or someone you know, is a high school student interested in outdoor volunteer work, please contact Sam Nadell at for more information!


Monthly Update – September 2023

Teachers practicing chemical tests at the dissolved oxygen station of our Water Quality Monitoring Training.

We have spent the month putting the final touches on our preparations for the water quality testing programs that are swiftly approaching! We are so excited to get back into the field with teachers and students and have been basking in anticipation for the activities to come. This month we met with teachers for Water Quality Monitoring Training, a professional development event meant to refresh the minds of returning teachers and provide a learning space for new teachers. It is important to us that our water quality testing field trips are educational and thrilling for students and in order to ensure great trips we need to make sure participating teachers feel prepared and confident. So, thank you to everyone who joined us! 

This month, we also welcomed Ariel Curtis, our new Watershed Educator AmeriCorps member to the SSG team! She has been working to get oriented with the program and can not wait to get out into nature with students and teachers!

At the end of this month, the first Teens in Thurston (TnT) event took place at Wolf Haven International! TnT is a high school volunteer group that meets monthly to work on outdoor projects around Thurston County. If you, or someone you know, is an interested high school student please contact Sam Nadell at


Monthly Update – August 2023

Science Adventure Camp participants learn about water quality testing at Big Creek.

The new school year is right around the corner, which means South Sound GREEN is getting ready for another year of outdoor field experiences! While inventorying supplies and editing curriculum may not be the most exciting tasks, it sets us up for success when our schedule gets busy with water quality testing. This year we’re looking forward to working with new teacher participants and implementing some updates to our long-standing programs! If you are a Thurston County teacher who is interested in water quality testing, salmon spawning field trips, or any other SSG field experience, please reach out to Sam Nadell at for information. 

Even in August, there are still education programs to help with! We joined up with Northwest Youth Corps at a Capitol Land Trust site for a stream bug lesson, and also assisted with the Nisqually Reach Nature Center’s Science Adventure Camp out at Mount Rainier! We’ve been meeting with teachers as well, setting up North Thurston 5th grade teachers for success in their Watershed Explorers curriculum. It’s been a great summer and we’re looking forward to a great 2023-2024 school year!


Monthly Update – July 2023

Students from the Tumwater STREAM Camp participate in Water Quality Testing at the Deschutes River in Pioneer Park.

Summer is a great opportunity for us at SSG to have a reset before the upcoming school year – but that doesn’t mean we can’t fit in a few programs as well! This month we helped out with the Tumwater School District’s summer STREAMS (Science, Technology, Reading, Engineering, Art, Math, Service/Stewardships) program for middle school students, providing classroom and field lessons for their “One Water” week-long track. We don’t typically get to bring students out on field trips during the summer, so it’s always a treat when we get the chance! We’ve also been busy networking with marine and environmental educators from across the country (and world!) at the National Marine Educators Association Conference, finding ways to incorporate unique, global ideas into our local lessons. 

With the school year coming up fast, now is a great time to reach out if you’re interested in becoming a South Sound GREEN volunteer! If you have any experience in education, water quality, intertidal biology, salmon, or other related fields, please reach out to Sam at with the subject line “SSG Volunteer Interest – YOUR NAME”. We’re hoping to have some extra help in the form of a Fall Education Intern (applications are still open for that!) but we’re also always on the lookout for new, energetic volunteers!