Having stepped into the role of Executive Director in spring of 2023, I now have the privilege of reflecting on 2022 as part of this annual report. 2022 was full of change and new opportunities for the Port Townsend Marine Science Center. New leadership, innovative programming, and creative facility planning were all aspects of the shifting and adapting that was going on last year as we continued to work toward the vision of a powerful visitor experience in the Flagship Landing building in downtown Port Townsend.
In April of 2022 Bee Redfield joined the staff as the new Executive Director, taking over from Janine Boire. While Bee ultimately decided to resign in February of 2023 in order to focus on completing her PhD, she helped lay the foundation for the coming renovation of the Flagship Landing building. Working with the board, Bee strengthened the systems, policies, and practices that will be critical to launching a capital campaign and planning a major construction project. Bee was beloved by all and will be sorely missed. We are grateful to her for all her accomplishments at PTMSC.
In March of 2022, the organization opened a hybrid retail-visitor center as well as a dedicated gallery space for environmentally focused exhibits in the Flagship Landing building. Exhibits included the traveling photo display, We Are Puget Sound and a 3D walkthrough experience, Bull Kelp: Our Remarkable Underwater Forests. Designed for travel, this exhibit highlights the value and necessity of these incredibly complex habitats and the collective actions we need to take to preserve them. We are excited to say that over 10,000 people visited the new location throughout the year to learn about the work of the organization, and find locally made, environmentally responsible, marine-themed products in a unique retail setting.
School programs shifted from largely virtual to predominantly in-person in 2022, with a total of 1,382 students participating in indoor labs and classes, virtual classes, and outdoor field programs, a number similar to pre-pandemic years. Staff and education program volunteers also brought live programming and collections resources to area schools who were unable to plan field trips.
These modified programs will serve as pilots for adapting our programming to changing facilities as we make the transition off of the pier at Fort Worden in advance of State Parks’ planned demolition of the pier in the 2025-2027 biennium. We are committed to keeping our programming going as we go through the 5-7 years of transition to the downtown location.
Visitors to the Aquarium and Museum continued to delight in the experience of seeing and learning about the live animals that inhabit our nearshore habitats including Sylvia, a giant Pacific octopus. Sylvia was released in January, 2023. Even while only open Saturdays and Sundays due to continued volunteer shortages, the Aquarium and Museum hosted 9,223 people. When not open to the public, the Aquarium facilities continued to support ongoing conservation and restoration efforts such as the Larval Dungeness Crab Research Project and the Pinto Abalone Restoration Project.
While Covid-19 prevented our full volunteer corps from returning in 2022, we continued critical Citizen Science programs such as the Marine Mammal Stranding Network, Sound Toxins, and Intertidal Monitoring. Sustainability initiatives such as Repair Events and beach clean ups, as well as Wildlife Cruises, Low Tide Walks and Summer Camps filled to capacity. The Future of Oceans Lecture series expanded to 8 presentations and returned to an in-person format. There were 2,280 participants in these and other public programs.
In summary, 2022 was a very full and busy year. As I write this, well into 2023, I can say that many seeds that were planted in 2022 will continue to grow as we move into an intensive phase of transition. Drawing on my six years as PTMSC Program Director, and my two decades leading program transformation at the Burke Museum in Seattle, I am committed to collaborating with the staff, our partners, our supporters, and the general public to creatively transition our public exhibits from Fort Worden to downtown while keeping programs and exhibits going. This will not be easy but I know we have the right combination of people, talent and knowledge to do it. Thanks for being part of this great organization.
Diane Quinn, Executive Director
2022 PTMSC Staff
Bee Redfield, Executive Director
Liesl Slabaugh, Development & Marketing Director
Diane Quinn, Program Director
Betsy Carlson, Community Science Coordinator
Debra Diner, Administrative Specialist
Brian Kay, Marketing & Development Coordinator
Alexandra Redman, Aquarium Curator
Gabriele Sanchez, Programs Manager
Carolyn Woods, Education Coordinator
Tracy Thompson, Volunteer Coordinator
Mandi Johnson, Outreach Coordinator
Emilee Carpenter, Aquarium Specialist
Elizabeth Lyon, Store Manager
PTMSC AmeriCorps Members
Erin Merklein, Marine Stewardship Educator
Malaika Rosenfeld, Marine Stewardship Educator
Holly Weinstein, Marine Stewardship Educator
Hadley Beahan, Marine Stewardship Educator
Lydia Plescher, Marine Stewardship Educator