Program Highlights


Monthly Update: May 2021

Here at South Sound GREEN we’ve had another great month of benthic macroinvertebrate lessons! We’ve had a blast meeting with students in-person and virtually across multiple schools in North Thurston, Olympia, and Tumwater school districts. We’ve also found some pretty cool “stream bugs” along the way, including crawfish, stonefly larvae, and this tiny freshwater clam, best seen under the microscope!

Students aren’t the only ones getting SSG attention – we had another successful CLAMSS professional development event this month! Focusing on your carbon “food print”, teachers virtually learned about blue carbon and food webs from U.S. Geological Survey researcher Isa Woo and shared some of their favorite recipes that utilize local ingredients. And looking ahead, we’re already in the final month of the 2020-2021 school year, which means it’s time for our Summer Institute for Teachers! Last year’s “Stay In”-stitute was a hit, but we’re ready to bring teachers outside again and offer some more hands-on programming. And for students and parents looking for fun activities this summer, remember to check out our catalogue of ThurstonTalk Home Science Activities!


Monthly Update: April 2021

Stephanie demonstrating how to use a dichotomous key to a group of students from Olympic View Elementary.

After over a year away from in-person teaching, South Sound GREEN resumed classroom lessons this month! Fully vaccinated and eager for face-to-face education opportunities, we were thrilled to be able to provide hands-on benthic macroinvertebrate (or “stream bug”!) lessons for students at Olympic View Elementary and Tumwater High. Adapting to new, hybrid class models was certainly a challenge, but one we felt comfortable taking on after seeing some of our fabulous teacher partners leading the way. We also continued to offer engaging virtual programming for other classes, bringing the excitement of stream bugs under a microscope to the big screen.

But we’re not stopping there! Keep an eye out for information about our new Nearshore Field Experience offerings over the next few weeks. We may not be able to take students to the beaches yet, but we can certainly bring the beaches to the students! And if you’re a teacher or if you know a teacher, please spread the word about South Sound GREEN’s programming! We are always on the lookout for new teachers to participate in our sessions. Questions? Send an email to Sam at


Monthly Update: March 2021

An image from Dr. Carri LeRoy’s keynote presentation at our Virtual Student GREEN Congress.

Happy Student GREEN Congress month! Following the strangest school year we’ve experienced, and a full year after needing to cancel our Congress event for the first time in nearly three decades, we organized the first ever Virtual Student GREEN Congress event this month alongside our partners at Nisqually River Education Project. Changing a live, activity-packed event at the Evergreen State College into an entirely virtual experience was a challenge we were both excited and nervous to take on, but are thrilled with how it turned out.

We were determined to design all of our Congress aspects with equity in mind. Live Zoom events offered more opportunity to work directly with students and community partners, but classes have needed to juggle their lessons with coordinating students returning back to school in a hybrid model. To accommodate this, we provided teachers with synchronous and asynchronous options for all of our activities – live Zoom sessions for those who could make it, and video recordings to be shown at a later time if needed. By offering both options, we were able to preserve all of the normal features of Congress. This included an engaging State of the Rivers session, where students used a Story map and journal to examine and compare local water quality, as well as hands-on workshops, with materials provided and packed by our amazing community partners (thank you to Billy Frank Jr. Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge, Northwest Trek Wildlife Park, Mount Rainier National Park, GRuB, and Brittany Burkhardt!). This all led to our keynote and closing ceremony, where Evergreen State College professor Dr. Carri LeRoy gave a fascinating presentation about the unbelievable world of stream bugs (or “aquatic monsters”!), and students got to watch themselves on the big screen sharing out their ideas for how to improve our watershed health.

Overall, the event was unlike anything we’d done before, but we’re so proud with how it turned out. And a big part of the success is due to our teachers – amidst all the chaos of the changing school situation, you found the time and energy to incorporate Student GREEN Congress into your plans! Thank you teachers! And we’re not stopping here – keep an eye out for our brand new benthic macroinvertebrates activity coming soon, and virtual nearshore field trips coming this spring!


Monthly Update: February 2021

A mock-up of what the background of one of the quilts may look like! Picture credit: Carrie Ziegler

February is typically a month packed with water quality monitoring trips, stream bug labs, and preparations for March’s Student GREEN Congress. But, as you already know, this is not a typical school year! In place of our normal programming, we’ve worked to develop new virtual materials for students to learn about water quality and data analysis, offering live Zoom sessions as well. And with the first ever virtual Student GREEN Congress just around the corner in a few weeks, we’ve been doing a lot to get ready! Comprised of hands-on workshops, asynchronous class activities, and a live keynote speaker, Congress will take on a new form while maintaining some of our favorite aspects of our favorite annual event.

Outside of Congress, we’ve worked this month to publish a new ThurstonTalk article, alongside some of our partners in the Thurston ECO Network. This article, written primarily by Elisa McGee at the Puget Sound Estuarium, highlights Black leaders in STEM fields in honor of Black History Month. This amazing resource was created in part out of the ideas and discussions of the relatively new Thurston ECO Network DEI (Diversity, Equity, Inclusivity) subcommittee. Keep an eye out for another ThurstonTalk article this month promoting a new citizen art and science exhibit in Olympia!


Spotlight: BRAIN STEM Leaders for Black History Month!

Image created by Elisa McGee

This month is Black History Month, and in honor of that, the Thurston ECO Network has put together profiles of Black Researchers, Activists, Inventors, and Naturalists in STEM (BRAIN STEM) in a ThurstonTalk article! These profiles and pictures (thanks Elisa from the Puget Sound Estuarium!) highlight advances made in STEM fields by Black leaders and, with the help of ThurstonTalk, we’re able to share this information throughout Thurston County and beyond. Also, be sure to check out the speaker event mentioned in the article, featuring a local Black scientist, later this month!