IslandWood and COVID-19


May 18, 2020



A Message from Megan Karch, CEO



Two months into this pandemic, I am greatly missing seeing so many of you and thinking often about the safety and well-being of this community. These are incredibly difficult times and while we’re all experiencing the effects of COVID-19, we’re each experiencing them in different ways and to different degrees. Which has made it all the more touching how many of you have reached out asking how IslandWood is doing. Thank you so much for holding us close in your thoughts. For those of you I haven’t been able to connect with directly, I wanted to share an update about what’s happening at IslandWood.


Like virtually all organizations, we are in a challenging position and have had to make hard decisions. All of our school programs, weddings, conferences, and in-person community events have been cancelled until it is safe to gather again. We also cancelled Dinner in the Woods, our annual fundraising event. Without school programs or the ability to host events, most of our revenue has disappeared. As a result, we made the very painful decision to furlough 60% of our staff.


We anticipate that like many other organizations, we’ll feel the effects of this crisis for the next 18 – 24 months and have made multiple financial plans based on that assumption. We were very fortunate to receive approval of our federal Payroll Protection Program application. While the 8 weeks of funding doesn’t come close to filling our large financial gap, it is helpful in allowing us to move more quickly in reimagining our future programs. Over the next month, our board of directors and staff will be working on detailed plans for how our programming will evolve and we’ll share those with you just as soon as they are ready. While the next two years will not be easy, we are confident in our ability to innovate, persevere, and make the critical decisions that will enable us to continue to serve our community long into the future.


Our staff have made the switch to creating digital learning environments without trepidation, driven by their unwavering commitment to supporting students, teachers and our community members. This has included working directly with elementary teachers to help create science lessons students can do at home, as well as providing free virtual professional development workshops; continuing to run our graduate program remotely; and creating ways for our community to keep learning about the world around them through a variety of offerings.


While much remains uncertain, I know that the need for quality environmental education is crucial for the future of our communities and the planet. For many of us, especially during this time, nature has provided respite, solace, and rejuvenation. We must continue to inspire the care and protection of the world that surrounds us. A heartfelt thank you to everyone who has recently donated to our campaign to Keep IslandWood Strong. We are incredibly grateful. As a reminder, all gifts made by May 31st over $100 will be doubled and all gifts over $1,000 will be tripled by a donor match. If you’re able to help, we really appreciate it.


I look forward to sharing more updates with you in the coming weeks. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out at [email protected]. It is a highlight to hear from you!


Sending my best to you and your loved ones,




Updated: May 14, 2020



Dear IslandWood Community,


During the COVID-19 pandemic, all of our in-person programs & events are suspended until further notice. We are running our graduate program, teacher professional development, and a handful of community events virtually.


But, discovery never stops. For younger and older, in cities and in suburbs, there is always something new to discover about the world around us.


That’s why we’re excited to share how we’ve been working to adapt existing programs and create new opportunities for discovering, exploring, and learning together. Specifically, we’ve been focused on opportunities to support teachers, our current graduate students, and our community.



Supporting Teachers


While we stay at home, protecting our communities, teachers are still hard at work facilitating learning for kids and families. As a part of the OSPI ClimeTime project, our Urban School Programs Team is developing multiple opportunities to support teachers in this work.



26 teachers from 15 school districts have joined us for our new online teacher professional development course, which will run for four sessions throughout the month. This free course is designed to provide educators with the resources they need to help students engage with science at home in meaningful and locally-relevant ways.



In partnership with Seattle Public Utilities, we are leading a virtual workshop for Seattle teachers on May 20. This free workshop will support teachers in uncovering the often-hidden stormwater systems in Seattle, identifying stormwater phenomena, and sharing best practices in at-home science learning. Teachers will also get the chance to collaborate on ways to explore stormwater phenomena with their students remotely.



We were thrilled to present several workshops at this statewide virtual conference on April 27th and 29th, hosted by the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI). Our workshops focused on using local phenomena found in gardens, schoolyards, and stormwater sites for learning. Click here to learn more!



Supporting Our Community


Though we can’t gather in person, we have been working hard to create fun and informative opportunities for people of all ages to explore, learn, and connect.



Even though our in-person programs are currently on pause, we are still committed to bringing a sense of discovery to our community each and every day. After all, the more we discover about the world around us, the better equipped we are to care for it – and for each other. That’s why we were excited to bring you 50 Days of Discovery! Whether it’s a tip, a fact, an activity, or another opportunity to explore, each day will bring something new!



Typically one of our most highly-anticipated events of the year, we couldn’t miss out on the opportunity to explore the world of Amorous Amphibians with you – even from afar! Check out this video presentation from IslandWood naturalist Christina Doherty to learn more about native frogs, their calls, and habits. Then, discover how you can find breeding frogs, toads, salamanders, newts and their eggs in your backyard or nearby frog-filled wetland, pond, or puddle.



We’re excited to announce our new series, Phenology Friday! Each week, one of IslandWood’s educators will be sharing a phenological highlight – an example of seasonal change that they are noticing in the natural world. Watch the video of their explorations and then share your own observations with us using #PhenologyFriday!



Our Bainbridge Island campus may be quieter than usual, but it’s far from empty. Check out this video to see 13 species (spotted on our fixed forest cameras) who have been roaming our woods over the past few weeks!



We were thrilled to partner with the Bainbridge Island Land Trust to bring the annual City Nature Challenge bioblitz to Kitsap County for the first time! Over 100 participants made 808 observations of 300+ species over the four-day challenge! These observations help scientists understand the incredible biodiversity of our region. In the coming year, we hope to host additional iNaturalist workshops in preparation for next year’s City Nature Challenge bioblitz!



Supporting Our Graduate Students


We have been busy transforming our graduate program to be entirely online for spring quarter. In collaboration with our partner, the University of Washington, our faculty and staff have developed alternative methods of learning that still honor our goals and values. Weekly community Zoom check-ins have been helping keep our cohort connected!


Meanwhile, our Class of 2021 is starting to fill up, and we look forward to welcoming an exceptional group of students to our program in the fall! Want to learn more about the graduate program? Join us for an online information session on June 17!



Supporting IslandWood


Now, more than ever, we need your help to keep us strong. If you’re able, please consider giving to IslandWood today. Thanks to a generous donor, from now through May 31st, gifts over $100 will be doubled and gifts over $1,000 will be tripled, making your impact even larger!



Contact Us


We continue to closely monitor the evolving situation and will announce any further changes to our programs as they happen. Please contact us via email at [email protected] with any questions or concerns. Responses may take longer than usual, but we are checking! Also, stay in the loop by following us on FacebookTwitterInstagram, and LinkedIn. In this challenging time, community is more important than ever, and we are so grateful to be a part of yours.



March 16, 2020


Dear IslandWood Community,


To help keep our community and staff safe during the COVID-19 outbreak, IslandWood has made the decision to close all of our education programs, community events, private events, and conferences through the end of April. We will be continuing to run our graduate program via remote classes.


Everyone who has purchased a ticket, booked a school program, or booked a private event, meeting or conference through the end of April will have the opportunity to transfer their ticket price or deposit into a donation, or to receive a refund.


Our plan is to resume our programming on May 1st. As we continue to assess the situation and factors affecting our region, we will provide you with regular updates.


For an organization that was founded to bring people together to connect, to explore, and to work together in community, this is a particularly difficult time for all of us at IslandWood. If you’d like to make a donation, please click here. Your support at this time will make all the difference.


Every day at IslandWood, we create experiences that help students and educators understand their environment and discover the impact they can have on the world and their community. While IslandWood programs may be temporarily paused, we will continue to advance this work in creative ways. Over the next week, we will be designing interactive online programming and working with our school partners to hear how we can best help. Thank you for all that you are doing in your own communities to care for each other during this very challenging time.


With gratitude,
Megan Karch