The Faces of San Juan Island – Erin Corra

Last week’s Superpod 3 was nothing short of amazing.  A group of old friends and newcomers, some who only knew each other by their facebook or twitter profile pictures, met together to celebrate Southern Resident #Blackfish, share ideas, and watch whales in their natural environment.  For those of us who had never been on San Juan Island, we quickly learned and shared the local resident’s passion for the island.

An iconic highlight of San Juan Island is the infamous lighthouse at Lime Kiln Point State Park. As a first time visitor, I couldn’t wait to see it in person.  Luckily, one of the first people I met on the island was Erin Corra.  I quickly realized what an imperative role she has played in saving the educational program of this beloved park.

Erin Corra illuminates passion for the island that she calls home.  Her bright spirit shines through as soon as you meet her…and it’s contagious.  She is quick to share that enthusiasm with anyone in her path.  This enthusiasm thrust her into action to save the educational programs that were threatened to be lost just a few short years ago.

Erin

In 2010, state budget cuts caused Erin to lose her job at Lime Kiln State Park as Interpretive Specialist – a position she had held since 2007.  Initially, the Center for Whale Research stepped up as an umbrella fiscal agent to keep the programs “afloat” at the park.  That allowed time to come up with a more sustainable solution and Friends of Lime Kiln Society (FOLKS) was launched in the fall of 2011 with Erin as Founder and Program Director.

FOLKS is made possible in collaboration with the Washington State Parks Foundation.  Lime Kiln Point State Park is a key location for public education and promotion of protection of the Southern Resident Killer Whales.  Close contact with the whales inspires people to change the way they live in their environment to help protect these magnificent but threatened beings. Over 200,000 visitors from 40+ countries visit the park each year to view and learn about the SRKW. It is clearly a critical education habitat that must be protected as passionately as the whales themselves. That is what FOLKS is all about.

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Not only is Lime Kiln Point a fantastic place to watch whales in their natural habitat, but it also offers other unique flora and fauna including the beautifully red-barked Madrona tree, deer, eagles and other wildlife.

FOLKS mission is to provide a unique experience for visitors through support & development of educational programs and activities related to Lime Kiln Point State Park’s extraordinary location, diverse ecosystems, and historic structures.

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When not working at the park, Erin is also involved in other ways to protect the island’s natural resources, including eelgrasses of the Salish Sea.  She also serves as Volunteer Director for Eelgrass Project Outreach and provides outreach at SJI Farmer’s Market every Saturday.

Who is Erin’s favorite orca you might ask?  GRANNY! J2

 Granny

Photo taken by Jill Hein

Granny, estimated to be 103 years old, is the famous matriarch of J pod.  As a great-grandmother, Granny traveled 800 miles off the Canadian cost this year. I have to agree with Erin who says “Granny by far is the wisest mama out there!”

Consider donating to FOLKS to help keep this iconic park open as an educational and research platform and help inspire park visitors to become more environmentally responsible for our future.

Part one of the Faces of San Juan Island – Melisa Pinnow can be found here if you missed it.

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