Washington Lighthouses raises funds to support education and restoration projects at 13 lighthouses kept open to the public by non-profit groups, as well as WSU environmental programs headquartered at Admiralty Head Lighthouse on Whidbey Island.
A major portion of the lighthouse license plate fee is returned to LEP to use in supporting educational outreach programs and grants to preserve and restore Washington lighthouses.
The artwork on this special license plate is based on a watercolor by Coupeville artist Janet Orso.
It’s a phenomenal story of grassroots citizen involvement that started with the realization that talented people were eager to help save and enhance the natural environment of our islands, if only they were asked and shown the way.
In the last 15 years, hundreds of LEP volunteers have received expert, intensive training in the classroom and in the field from resource managers, researchers, educators and other authorities. In turn, they have made a commitment to give back 100 hours of service, though most actually do more. In 2004, these volunteers gave about 20,000 hours of service at no cost to Island County taxpayers – a $250,000 gift when valued at $12.50 an hour.
Whenever there’s a need for environmental education, citizen science or boots-on-the-ground service in Island County, chances are good you’ll find the volunteers of Lighthouse Environmental Programs – the Washington State University (WSU) Beach Watchers, WSU Lighthouse Docents and WSU Waste Wise Volunteers.
In the early 1990s, Don Meehan of Washington State University (WSU) Extension – Island County recognized a disturbing trend. Our two islands were rapidly losing their fragile natural systems.
Few people understood how to care for our waters, shores and uplands. Meehan launched WSU Beach Watchers and Waste Wise Volunteers to educate the community. Both groups set out to engage citizens with a combination of education and service.
A third group, Keepers of Admiralty Head Lighthouse, soon joined them with similar goals and values. As this program grew, WSU Extension Lighthouse Docents took over lighthouse education while Keepers assumed the role of special fundraising.
People wanted to help these programs with gifts of support, so the three groups came together under a non-profit, charitable umbrella organization, IRS 501(c)(3), Lighthouse Environmental Programs.
For the complete evolution of LEP, read our Historic Timeline.