NWIC students honor MLK by restoring salmon habitat

Martin Luther King Jr. Day is a nationally recognized day of service where volunteers across the country give back to their communities to commemorate and celebrate the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. Students at Northwest Indian College (NWIC) served in kind by participating in an event coordinated by Lummi Natural Resources, Nooksack Salmon Enhancement, Washington Conservation Corps, and the college’s Indigenous Service Learning Office.

Dr. King once said, "Life's most persistent and urgent question is: 'What are you doing for others?'"

On Jan. 23, two days after the official MLK Jr. Day, 16 NWIC students gave a clear response to King’s question. Through their diligent efforts, they were able to plant 200 trees at Kwina Sough to restore salmon habitat.

NWIC students were joined by members of the community and, in all, at least 31 volunteers participated in the event, said event organizer Mark Schneider, who is the Retention Project Coordinator at NWIC.

“We had such a great turnout,” Schneider said. “People didn’t want to leave; they were having such a great time.”

Schneider said the event was alive with a sense of purpose, and that every tree was a drop in the bucket toward restoring the salmon habitat.

“It was important work and I was really glad that our students enjoyed it,” he said.

Schneider said the event could not have happened without the help of Frank Bob at Lummi Natural Resources and the volunteers at Nooksack Salmon Enhancement and Washington Conservation Corps. He also thanked NWIC faculty and staff – Jon Rombold, Terri Plake, Jeff Campbell and Nathanael Davis – and all of the students who participated.

Ane Berrett, director of Indigenous Service Learning at NWIC, said the day was a great example of the impact an event can have when people form partnerships and work together.

Maggie Long, education coordinator at Nooksack Salmon Enhancement, said it was inspiring to have the opportunity to work alongside the volunteers from NWIC, who braved the wind, rain and cold weather for the common goal of restoring habitat for salmon.

“Despite the stormy weather, these volunteers worked hard with smiles on their faces and even asked for more trees to plant when the initial round was finished,” Long said. “NSEA couldn’t have asked for a better group of people to share in a day of service and we are grateful for their efforts.”

For more information about NWIC’s Indigenous Service Learning Office, which offers students credit for community service projects, please contact Ane Berrett at (360) 392-4213 or email her at aberrett@nwic.edu.