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Citizen Action Training School coming to the north Puget Sound area

This fall, residents within King, Snohomish, Island and Skagit counties will have the opportunity to participate in a new program dedicated to training citizens to be effectively engaged in recovery efforts for Puget Sound and our local watersheds. The Citizen Action Training School (CATS) is a free program in watershed and Puget Sound ecology, with an added focus on civic engagement in the legal and regulatory processes that affect resource management.

CATS participants will learn from regional experts about Puget Sound and local watershed ecology, key wildlife species, the laws and regulations that affect natural and human communities, and how human actions affect water quality. In addition to the science and legal facts, professionals will share civic engagement tools and project planning strategies to teach students how to effectively engage in the public process, and to support community efforts to restore and protect local watersheds and shorelines.

The class will be held Thursday evenings in Everett, beginning Oct. 2. The training consists of 50 hours of classroom lessons, including three Saturday fieldtrips, with the program culminating in students planning and implementing a 50 hour service project in their community.

CATS is based on the success of a pilot project that took place in Snohomish County in 1988-1989. That program, conducted by the Pilchuck Audubon Society, was focused on local watersheds and trained an active group of community members — many of whom went on to become leaders in the Puget Sound recovery effort.

More than 20 years later, several of the service projects started by that group are still active, including the Stillaguamish Festival of the River that is held annually in Snohomish County. Today, CATS is organized by the Puget Sound Regional Fisheries Enhancement Groups, which received a two year grant from the Puget Sound Partnership — a state agency that oversees recovery efforts around the Sound. The upcoming Everett session is hosted by Sound Salmon Solutions (SSS). SSS is known regionally for its salmon education programs, habitat restoration efforts, and wide array of opportunities for volunteers to become involved.

SSS is looking for participants from diverse backgrounds and occupations, such as teachers, marine-dependent businesses, government employees, tribal members, college students, and more. In lieu of course fees, participants will give back by volunteering at least 50 hours to plan and complete a service project that benefits the health of Puget Sound and affiliated watersheds. This is an invaluable opportunity for job training, continuing education, and an introduction to a diversity of topics related to natural resources and public policy. Space is limited and applications are required; applications for the Everett session are due Sept. 5.

To apply or for more information, please contact Kelley Govan at Sound Salmon Solutions at kelley@soundsalmonsolutions.org or (425) 252-6686. Program information is also available on the web at www.pugetsoundcats.org.

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