Several years ago, the TEP Education Committee decided that they wanted to publicly honor some of the many people in our community whose everyday lives epitomize the natural resource stewardship ethic. The citizen or community group is chosen each year out of an impressive array of nominees whose efforts are vital to sustaining the quality of life we all cherish in Tillamook County.
2002 - Jim Mundell
Eagle Scouts work on the Jim Mundell Environmental Stewardship Award grove on the Hoquarton Interpretive Trail in Tillamook. Plaques honor each TEP award recipient.
Jim exemplifies what a citizen steward can be. As a lifelong Netarts resident, he donated countless hours to local projects such as beach clean ups and environmental education that highlights knowledge and respect for cultural history. Jim supported, both financially and in spirit, the environmental causes that he believed in. He started a group called WEBS (Watershed, Estuary, Beach & Sea), an Advisory Committee that is interested in creating opportunities for Netarts Bay residents, property owners, interested citizens, and visitors to learn about and experience the unique natural and cultural history of the Netarts Bay area.
2003 - Kurt Heckeroth
Kurt works for the local Bureau of Land Management Office as their Resource Area Botanist. Kurt's expertise in local plants and their biology leads him to go above and beyond normal work duties. He supports local watershed councils in their riparian planting efforts, often meeting members after hours to supply them with the hundreds of trees and shrubs they need. He is a key leader in developing a local Native Plant Nursery, teaching classes on seed propagation, spending hours planting and re-potting, all the while sharing his enthusiasm and knowledge with others.
2004 - TEP Volunteer Water Quality Monitors
Since 1997, a small cadre of faithful citizens have gone out twice a month - no matter the weather - to collect water samples from the rivers of the Tillamook Bay Watershed. Data acquired from these samples provides crucial bacteria and temperature information to TEP and to the state Department of Environmental Quality for prioritizing restoration projects.
2005 - Hoquarton Interpretive Trail Committee
A broad-based group of citizens committed to creating a nature park in downtown Tillamook successfully rallied strong local support and numerous grants to develop an interpretive pedestrian trail along the Hoquarton Slough. The trail is becoming a peaceful, naturally beautiful place where locals and visitors alike can relax or exercise, enjoy nature, and learn about the cultural and natural history of the area, which is very rich. It is also a highly productive outdoor learning classroom where numerous student groups participate in invasive vegetation removal and planting of historically native trees and shrubs.
2006 - Lower Nehalem Community Trust
When a handful of north county residents realized that a piece of estuarine property on Nehalem Bay with high restoration and education potential could be lost to development unless they acted - they did. Using their own personal funds, the fledgling group purchased the historic 55 acre Alder Creek Farm, then wrote and received grants to establish the Trust. The property supports fresh and salt water habitats, and has proved ideal as a community gathering place. Restoration of Alder Creek, the native plants, tidal salt marsh, and the farm itself bring adults and children out to the site often as they work side by side in an excellent example of community citizen stewardship.
2007 - Peter Walczac
Referred to by a local teacher as "the pied piper of environmental education", Peter is the "biologist-in-residence" for science enrichment in the Neah-Kah-Nie School District. Peter is active in stewardship projects all over North County including efforts at the Alder Creek Farm and the North County recreation District, devotes many hours to summer-school watershed education programs throughout Tillamook County, and leads the annual Garibaldi Grade School's "Our Watershed Environment and Science Reading Challenge".