“This is not our center,” Powell Jones reminded the dais of dignitaries at the Railroad Bridge Park amphitheater Saturday morning. “It’s everyone’s center to enjoy.”
With the historic Dungeness Railroad Bridge and namesake river as a backdrop and the multi-million-dollar renovation to the Dungeness River Audubon Center a few yards away, members of the Michael Trebert Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution gave thanks to Audubon society, river center and Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe representatives.
Led by conservation committee chair Mary Van Dyke, Michael Trebert Chapter members distributed to Jones, the center director, and several other key figures in the center’s history with National Society DAR (NSDAR) certificates, as well as NSDAR conservation medal to Annette Hanson, who with late husband Mark Hanson were the founders of what became the present day Audubon Center.
The NSDAR Conservation Medal recognizes volunteers who “exhibit sustained efforts to improve the environment or to educate the public on conservation issues.”
Hanson said her husband Mark was the inspiration behind the creation of the Sequim Natural History Museum. He had overheard sixth-graders talking about what birds they’d shot and showing a general disregard for animal life, so he began mounting taxidermied birds and, with proper permits, began showing them in classrooms, she remembered.
The museum was hosted for nearly a decade in a vacant room at the old Sequim High School building.
“We had visitors from all over the world come into the (museum),” Hanson said.
Scores of elementary classes were guided through the museum by volunteers for years before the museum found a home at what’s now the river center in 2001.
But it took collaboration between the Dungeness River Audubon Center and Olympic Peninsula Audubon Society to the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe to make it happen.
Hanson credited a number of key figures along the way — some present, and absent others such as Stu MacRobbie, Les Jones and Dennis Dickson — for their work in making the center a reality.
“We would not be here today without everyone working on this,” she said.
W. Ron Allen, Jamestown’s tribal council chairman and CEO, concurred, noting that there is a synergy between the desire for growth and respect for the environment.
“(The center) was a collective vision and we were committed to it,” Allen said Saturday. “The council and I are honored.”
Theresa R. Lehman, Jamestown’s tribal council treasurer, said she’s pleased that future generations will be able to enjoy the park’s amenities, all thanks to the hard work of many.
“We have such a connection to the earth; it needs to be protected,” she said.
The “Inspire Wonder” capital campaign to expand the Dungeness River Audubon Center by about 59,000 square feet —initially estimated at about $2.9 million — is projected to be short about $1 million thanks to exponential rises in building costs, said Hanson, who chairs the campaign.
Those who have questions about the project and the campaign goal or gap can contact Hanson at 360-670-6774 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit dungenessrivercenter.org/our_story/building-expansion.