Columbia Slough guardians honor colleagues; raise funds at the annual ‘Slough Celebration’

See who received awards – and why. Also, find out how much money was raised at this gala gourmet dinner …

The Melody Ballroom in SE Portland is filled with supporters of the Columbia Slough Watershed Council, as the annual awards banquet gets underway.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
It wasn’t a formal-dress event, but many patrons of the Columbia Slough Watershed Council (CSWC) nonetheless did turn out in their finest to raise money for the cause, and to celebrate the year’s successes, as the 2011 Slough Celebration got underway at the Melody Ballroom.

“This event is important, because this is our opportunity to recognize all the dedicated, hard-working people who work for our watershed’s improvement,” said CSWC Executive Director Jane Van Dyke at the February 4 event. “Tonight, we’ll thank many people who, on a day-to-day basis, work to improve our watershed’s health.”

East Portland parks advocate Linda Robinson and her husband David Jolma enjoy dinner, as do Hazelwood Neighborhood Association Chair Arlene Kimura, and Portland City Commissioner Amanda Fritz.

“The Nutria” – the “house band” comprised of CSWC associates – sings special lyrics to the tune of Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire”.  They call it the Slough Celebration Song.

As the formal program began, Van Dyke gave away WOW (Wonder of Watershed) Award medallions to those who assisted the organization during the year. And, she highlighted some of major events – including the group’s move into their own permanent renovated space.

Jane Van Dyke presents one of many WOW Award medallions to David Kennedy, an architect who helped convert a disused building into the new offices, workspace, and classrooms for the CSWC.

Metro District 5 Councilor Rex Burkholder began the fundraising appeal by recounting his “connection” with the Columbia Slough – the waterway that parallels the south bank of the Columbia River.

“It’s kind of nice going someplace where you’re not blown by the wind, overrun by waves, or bitten by mosquitoes – someplace where it is quiet,” Burkholder began. “It’s always amazed me. Just this week I went out to some local business owners to look at urban development right next to Slough.”

During the appeal, volunteer Steve Mason passes a specimen collection net – it works well for collecting money as well – snagging a donation from Dick Pedersen of the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality.

“I pointed out a bald eagle in the Cottonwood tree right next to the business,” continued Burkholder. “It’s good to look to see what’s going on right in our community. I like to see what’s going on in our neighborhood and to be in nature, right near an urban area.”

Awards galore
Rather than simply hand out awards to polite applause, the CSWC enhanced its presentations with produced video introductions for each award winner. Each humorous “Slough Tube” production was projected on a large screen, as the recipient came to the stage.

Corky Collier, of the Columbia Corridor Association, congratulates Rebecca Geisen of the Portland Water Bureau – recipient of the “Leadership Award” – along with Jane Van Dyke.

Rebecca Geisen of the Portland Water Bureau was presented the CSWC “Leadership Award” for leading the Bureau’s Groundwater Protection Program.

Addressing the gathering, Guisen joked, “Perhaps I should’ve worn an eye patch this evening. Most people know me through my association with our annual Aquifer Adventure pirate-themed event. And, I want to thank the rest of the Council’s staff, who really help us educate businesses, and the community, about the importance of groundwater.”

Jane Van Dyke presents Claire Puchy, from the Portland Bureau of Environmental Services, a special award for “Terrestrial Ecology and Enhancement Strategy”, along with Kaitlin Lovell with City of Portland BES.

Jane Van Dyke stands with Sue Beilke, of the NW Ecological Research Institute, who is recognized for turtle research and conservation, along with Dave Halzer of the City of Portland BES, and Steve Fancher. CSWC photo

Dick Pederson from the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality congratulates Bruce Gilles, also with ODEQ, on his award for the “DEQ Settlement Process”, along with Jane Van Dyke and Steve Fancher. CSWC photo

“Sloughsan” Susan Barthell of Portland BES congratulates Kaitlin Lovell, also of Portland BES – and Christine Mallette, Erick Van Dyke, and Adam Storch of Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife – for their work on the “Lower Columbia Fish Study”. All were congratulated by presenters Jane Van Dyke and Martyne Reesman of ODFW. CSWC photo

After the event, Van Dyke thanked sponsors, volunteers, donors, and attendees for making the 2011 edition of this gala a great success.

“Thanks to the 230 people who came to the Slough Celebration, we raised $22,000 for the Council’s education, recreation, and stewardship projects. We’re so grateful to have such strong Slough supporters in our community.”

To learn more about the educational and recreational events provided by the organization, see their official website: CLICK HERE to open their home page.

Hundreds of participants cheer on this year’s CSWC award winners at the annual dinner.

© 2011 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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