The Incredible Impact of Forterra Volunteers

By Kristen Kosidowski, Outreach Program Manager

Each year, thousands of volunteers bring Forterra’s mission to life. We work together to create great communities and conserve great lands across this beautiful region.  Whether it’s land stewardship or building the relationships key to successful conservation and community development, we can’t do this work without the service and commitment of so many dedicated volunteers.

As the year comes to a close, we want to thank the amazing volunteers who support the work of Forterra day in and day out. Land Steward Katlin Hanson, Geospatial Analyst Matt Dressler, and Community Trustee and Land Steward Janet Wall are a handful of our many terrific volunteers dedicating their time, energy and expertise to our mission. These are their stories:

Katlin Hanson

I’m from: Bellevue, WA
I volunteer with Forterra as: a Land Steward
This role involves: Property monitoring, wildlife viewing, plant identification, weed pulling, hiking, trail user education, trail brushing, litter cleanup, participating in enthusiastic work parties with eager volunteers  
Why I love to volunteer with Forterra: Forterra is an excellent non-profit organization that gets you out there, working with your hands and mind to accomplish so much. My work connects me with the land – it is real work that produces real results – plus I have the opportunity to meet new people.
Why my work makes a difference:  As a Land Steward I’m working to preserve native habitats. I serve as the "eyes and ears" of living natural spaces, which are becoming few and far between. I love playing a role in protecting wild spaces in urban areas, where visitors can escape and enjoy the silence.

From Elsa Sargent, Forterra Lands Coordinator: Katlin has been a dedicated volunteer Land Steward since Forterra started the Land Steward program in 2005. As the acreage Forterra owns and stewards continues to grow, we increasingly rely on our volunteer Land Stewards to assist in the monitoring and maintenance of these landscapes.

Katlin moved east of the Cascades to Richland, WA a few years ago.  Still she has remained committed to Forterra and her Land Steward responsibilities at not one but THREE sites (Hazel Wolf Wetlands Preserve in Sammamish, the Mercer Island Davidson Preserve on Mercer Island, and Big Creek Preserve in Easton.)  Katlin now breaks up the long drive from Richland back to visit her family in the Puget Sound region by stopping in at the Hazel Wolf Wetlands for a hike through the aspen groves back to the creek to check on the new native tree plantings and observe wildlife tracks as she goes.

Learn more about becoming a Land Steward by visiting http://www.forterra.org/get_involved/volunteer


Matt Dressler

I live in: Seattle
I volunteer with Forterra as: a geospatial analyst and cartographer
This role involves: Making lots of maps – from poster size outreach maps of restoration progress to detailed site maps of forest health/restoration priorities. Other tasks include ongoing data management, some GPS data collection and the occasional analysis project.
Why I love to volunteer with Forterra: Through my volunteer service, I can participate in a variety of interesting and meaningful projects, while supporting conservation work here in the region I love. I also appreciate the opportunities for ongoing learning and professional development.
Why my work makes a difference:  Maps are powerful tools to communicate the work Forterra is doing. My work helps translate the data collected and utilized by staff into meaningful information.

From Christopher Walter, Forterra’s Geospatial Division Director: Matt has a real passion for maps and geospatial science, a hunger for learning and he takes great pride in helping our program teams develop products that measure and communicate the geographic aspects of our work.

Much of Matt’s work has focused on helping our Green City Partnerships team innovate better ways to track and communicate the progress that thousands of volunteers make each year restoring our urban parks and forest. Without his help, that progress would be difficult at best to communicate to a broad audience. With large-scale restoration efforts such as these, showing the work on a map demonstrates that the community’s efforts and money really are making a difference.

Watch for internships like Matt’s at http://www.forterra.org/who_we_are/careers

Janet Wall

I live in: Issaquah
I volunteer with Forterra as: Community Trustee and a Land Steward
This role involves: As a Trustee, I support and represent Forterra by speaking at Issaquah Council and committee meetings, promoting elements of the Cascade Agenda such as smart growth while preserving stream and wetland buffers, wildlife corridors and parks.  As a Land Steward, I monitor Park Hill and Chickadee Hill in Issaquah for potential damage to habitat values and respond by removing invasive plants and trash, planting native plants and contacting neighbors regarding wildlife and dumping issues.
Why I love to volunteer with Forterra: While conducting land steward duties, I frequently spot interesting plants or have a rewarding wildlife encounter.
Why my work makes a difference:  I feel that as cities build up and become denser, it is even more important that remaining urban natural areas be restored to be the best that they can be.

From Skye Schell, Community Engagement Program Manager: Janet’s work advocating for the Cascade Agenda and smart growth in Issaquah has been incredibly important. Voices like hers are critical for achieving our goals of focusing new growth in the existing city center, building more housing and mixed-use development in the central area [of Issaquah], increasing walking & biking, and advancing conservation through transfer of development rights.

Janet is a trusted member of the environmental community in Issaquah, and has deep relationships with leaders and residents there. Her opinion lends authority to community conversations about how Issaquah should grow over the next 30 years. We can always count on Janet to write and deliver smart, well-thought-out and diplomatic testimony at community and council meetings.

Wearing her other hat, Janet is an amazing native plant resource. She lends her hand to supporting stewardship of the land and teaching Forterra members and volunteers about the native species that color the trails and hillsides of the region.

Forterra thanks the many volunteers who are working for vibrant communities, thriving economies and beautiful landscapes!