Thursday, October 15, 2015

Eleanor Stopps Environmental Leadership Award Winner Announced!

We are excited to announce that Jude Rubin has won the Eleanor Stopps Environmental Leadership Award. Eleanor Stopps was a powerful advocate for lasting protection of the North Olympic Peninsula environment. In the 1960s and 1970s she recognized the need to protect the uniquely important marine environment of the Salish Sea. With no special political base or powerful financial backers she testified before the Washington State Legislature and the United States Congress, an act which was instrumental in getting legislation and public support for protection of the area. She was responsible for the establishment of the Protection Island Wildlife Refuge in 1982. Today, it is a critical link in the preservation of the whole Salish Sea region.

Previous winners include: 2005: Katherine Baril; 2006: Anne Murphy; 2007: Tom Jay and Sara Mall Johani; 2008: Al Latham; 2009: Peter Bahls; 2010: Sarah Spaeth; 2011: Dick and Marie Goin; 2012: Judith Alexander; 2013: Rebecca Benjamin; 2014: Ray Lowrie.

Stay tuned for blog posts about the 2015 Eleanor Stopps Award nominees: John Fabian, Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe, Cindy Jayne, Port of Port Townsend, Peter Rhines, and Steve Tucker

The following blog post is excerpted from Jude’s nomination:

Over the past two decades, Jude has been an instrumental force in environmental conservation in Jefferson County. Jude initiated and lead environmental programs for children and young adults, most notably the “Plant-a-Thon”, the largest annual environmental service project in Jefferson County, played a critical role in passing the Port Townsend bag ban, and helped preserve over 4,000 acres in the Tarboo Dabob Watershed while serving both as the Stewardship Director and as a founding board member of Northwest Watershed Institute.


Over a decade ago, Jude Rubin was listening to school fundraising ideas at a parent’s meeting and thought, “If children can wash cars and sell magazine subscriptions, why not sell honorary tree cards and plant trees to raise money?” Nearly every winter since, over 150 students, teachers and parents from five local schools plant about 3,000 native trees and shrubs at salmon restoration sites prepared by Northwest Watershed Institute along Tarboo Creek.

Before each planting event, Jude, as Stewardship Director with Northwest Watershed Institute, meets with the children in classrooms throughout Jefferson County to help them understand the critical role that temperate rainforests play in sustaining salmon habitat.

Prior to the big planting event, families sell honorary tree cards. Each card represents a tree to be planted in someone’s honor or memory. 100% of the money from the card sales goes to the schools because Jude and NWI work all year to raise grant funds and in-kind contributions to cover the cost of the project. For many students, the Plant-a-Thon has served as a strong influence in their growth as environmental stewards and leaders. Thanks to the remarkable collaborative efforts over the years led by Jude, 2015 marked the 10th annual Plant-a-Thon, with a total of more than 33,000 trees planted to date, well over $150,000 raised for schools, and hundreds of children and parents gaining greater appreciation for watershed ecology and environmental service.

Bag Monster

Jude is also well known as the "Bag Monster." In 2012, she took Port Townsend City Hall by storm with her humor and ensured a swift approval of the groundbreaking Port Townsend plastic bag ban.
In the Bag Ban effort, Jude coordinated the efforts of five partnering organizations, and stepped into the public limelight to represent the campaign as "The Bag Monster," addressing the City Council three times in a costume made of 500 disposable bags. Partly due to Jude’s persistent approach, the plastic bag ban was implemented in just seven months —one of the fastest adoptions of a bag ban proposal by any city in the country. In costume at City Council meetings, Jude was a force to be reckoned with. While most people would be deathly afraid to make a fool of him or herself —even for the most worthy cause —Jude courageously triumphed!

Northwest Watershed Institute

In 2001, Jude co-founded the Northwest Watershed Institute and has served as the Stewardship Director since 2004. Over the past eleven years, she has worked effectively as a scientific researcher, project manager, visiting classroom teacher, and fundraiser, and has been instrumental in NWI’s nationally recognized conservation achievements.

Jude’s grant writing skills, environmental and community outreach abilities, and her knowledge as a botanist and ecologist have helped NWI and many project partners to protect and restore over 4,000 acres in the Tarboo watershed, including critical stream and wetland habitat along Tarboo Creek and in Dabob Bay.

Jude’s environmental achievements are a continuation of a lifelong commitment to the environment. She graduated from Brown University in 1988 with a B.S. in Environmental Studies, and earned an M.S. in 1995 as both a Switzer Fellow and an R.K Mellon Fellow through the Field Naturalist Program at the University of Vermont. In the early 1990’s Jude helped launch a highly successful organic gardening education campaign in Seattle, and later worked for the Nature Conservancy in Oregon on native plant seed banking, and then at River Network as a project manager and Senior Grant Writer. In 1996, she co-authored, with Peter Bahls, the Chimacum Watershed Coho Salmon Restoration Assessment as her graduate thesis, and this work provided the scientific justification for the initial two-million dollars raised for Chimacum salmon habitat protection and restoration.

Whether she is known as "The Tree Lady," "The Bag Monster," or "Stewardship Director of Northwest Watershed Institute," Jude exudes the spirit of community-based environmental stewardship Eleanor Stopps sought to instill in everyone around her. We are grateful for the privilege of naming Jude Rubin our 2015 Eleanor Stopps Environmental Service Award recipient.

We also want to honor the 2015 Eleanor Stopps Award nominees: John Fabian, Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe, Cindy Jayne, Port of Port Townsend, Peter Rhines, and Steve Tucker.

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