PULLMAN – Donald Meehan, Coupeville, director of WSU Extension’s Natural Resource Stewardship Program, received the 2008 Western Regional Excellence in Extension Award Sunday in Chicago.
 
The honor is one of five regional awards and one national award given annually by the National Association of State University of Land-Grant Colleges for excellence in educational programming.
 
Meehan, who served as director of the WSU Island County Extension office for 26 years before assuming his current duties in October, developed the concept for the Puget Sound Beach Watchers volunteer program. His program, modeled after the WSU Master Gardener program, utilizes trained volunteers to deliver educational programming related to protecting the fragile environment of the Puget Sound.
 
Volunteers receive 100 hours in expert training on such topics as environmental processes, beaches and marine life. In return, they agree to give back 100 hours of their time talking with students and the public, monitoring water quality, mapping forage fish habitat spawning areas and much more.
 
Meehan launched Beach Watchers in Island County in 1990 with a $16,000 state grant. With support of federal funding, the program has since expanded to San Juan, Whatcom, Skagit, Snohomish, Clallam and Jefferson counties and boasts nearly 600 trained volunteers.
 
“Don is well deserving of this honor,” said Linda Kirk Fox, associate vice president and dean of WSU Extension. “He has created a program that addresses a critical environmental problem and attracted the interest of state and federal legislators to fund it.”
 
The award was presented at NASULG’S annual conference.