PULLMAN, Wash. – Don Meehan, who has been director of Washington State University Island County Extension for 26 years, has been named to the new statewide position of director of the WSU Extension Natural Resources Stewardship Program. Meehan will officially assume his new role on Oct. 1, according to Linda Kirk Fox, associate vice president and dean of WSU Extension.
“Don has an incredibly strong history of leadership in environmental and natural resources stewardship, including his creation of the highly successful and acclaimed WSU Puget Sound Beach Watchers volunteer program,” Fox said. “I couldn’t be more pleased that he has accepted this important appointment.”
In his new role, Meehan will provide statewide leadership in coordinating and directing the efforts of all WSU colleges and units, partner organizations and volunteer groups involved in achieving the goals of the university’s Natural Resources Stewardship program. The program calls for improving the state’s economy and quality of life by applying science-based management to assuring healthier forests, rangelands, fish and wildlife habitat, and addressing the complex issues involved in assuring adequate and clean water supplies.
Meehan, 61, joined WSU Extension in 1978 as an agent in Okanogan County. He moved to Island County in 1982 to serve as county extension director. He will leave that post Aug. 31.
“I’ll continue to support and look after Island County in my new role, but now I’ll be responsible for 38 more counties,” Meehan said. “I really look forward to being a part of a higher emphasis on sustaining our natural resources for extension.”
In the late 1980’s, Meehan came up with the concept for the Puget Sound Beach Watchers program, modeled after the WSU Master Gardeners approach of providing expert training in exchange for a commitment of volunteer hours. The program was launched in Island County in 1990 with a $16,000 state grant. Today, Beach Watchers has grown to a seven-county program with nearly 600 trained volunteers providing more than 30,000 hours of annual volunteer service doing research, education and outreach.
Meehan said that programs like Beach Watchers, and related organizations like Shore Stewards and Master Gardeners, coupled with the resources available across WSU and Extension provide a solid foundation for building new and more extensive natural resources stewardship efforts.
“I think we have the foundations and capability to reach out even more significantly than we have in the past,” he said. “We have a great team to make it happen and we are lucky to live in such a beautiful state where the people truly want to know and do the right things that respect our natural resources.”