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Jones picked to lead River Center

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by AMANDA WINTERS
Sequim Gazette

A Sequim native and river enthusiast will take over the position of director at the Dungeness River Audubon Center at the beginning of next year.

 

Powell Jones, an 8-year employee of the River Center, will combine the director’s duties with his education coordinator position as Bob Boekelheide steps down after a decade of leadership.

 

As a small nonprofit, the job of all employees is about everything from keeping the park open, the bridge safe, unclogging toilets and educating the public, Jones said.

 

As director, he plans to continue doing all those things while handling the budget and finding an educational focus for the center. Until then, he will work to see that Boekelheide’s to-do list is completed.

 

“I want him to leave feeling good about everything,” Jones said.

Personal connection

Jones, who grew up in Sequim, said he has a personal connection to the area’s natural resources because he spent his childhood in the area.

 

He said he is passionate about the river because he has a stake in it as a native.

 

“Being born and raised here, I’m very excited to work somewhere that promotes the uniqueness of this area,” he said.

 

Additionally, some of his volunteers also have been — and continue to be — his mentors, his high school biology teacher included.

 

After college, Jones worked for the National Park Service before applying for a position at the River Center through AmeriCorps after his wife was hired as a teacher with the Sequim School District. He got the job, which came only with a stipend, and was fortunate to get funding to be hired full-time after a year, he said.

 

Jones said the River Center board, its 50-60 volunteers and the community are very supportive.
“I like what I do,” he said.

‘A great educator’

Jones said the loss of Boekelheide will be difficult not only because the River Center will be one man

down, but also because the center is losing “a great educator.”

 

Boekelheide has said he will continue volunteering to a degree but there are other things he wants to do, such as write, analyze bird data, go to scientific presentations and help his father move to the area.

“We’re overjoyed,” Boekelheide said of Jones stepping up as director.

 

Jones said Boekelheide has been a wonderful teacher over the past eight years.

 

“I cannot give him enough credit,” he said.

Ambitions

Jones said while he is trying not to be too ambitious with limited revenue there are some things he hopes to accomplish as director.

 

A long-term internship program for college students or recent graduates would be beneficial for the center as well as those needing some real-world experience, he said.

 

More Olympic Discovery Trail promotion, family activities and sportsmen classes on ecology also are things he would like to accomplish. But other items such as regular maintenance need to be handled first, he said.

 

“I’d really like to continue all the programs we have with one less staff member,” he said.

 

The center will have four staff members remaining, along with a host of active volunteers. Jones will begin as director Jan. 1, 2012.

 


Reach Amanda Winters at awinters@sequimgazette.com.

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