Billy Frank Jr. Inspires us to Stay the Course

Over 200 people came together to honor and remember the legacy of Billy Frank Jr as he was inducted into the Wild Salmon Hall of Fame. The gala took place on October 10, 2015 at the Kitsap Conference Center. Guests were treated to a salmon and river themed art show by artist Amy Burnett and sculptor Ken Lundemo. The Canoe Family of the Nisqually Tribe captivated the entire room with stirring chants, songs and cultural dance. After dinner, guest speaker Representative Derek Kilmer shared his lasting impressions and memorable encounters with Billy Frank Jr. and the lessons learned from him. Billy was known for his humility, his passion, his wisdom and his example of being the ultimate servant leader.

“In everything he did, he spoke about the ‘WE’.  Now we need to think like Billy,  think about what we can do to advance the causes of salmon, habitat and education.”

He spoke about the Hood Canal Salmon Enhancement Group (HCSEG) and the Salmon Center as “vital assets in preserving salmon habitat” and continuing Billy’s sense of passion and urgency.

Boardmember Rich Chwaszczewski then introduced Executive Director Mendy Harlow as “a professional with great discernment, sensitivity and passion.”

Mendy spoke about The Salmon Center’s mission to continue to chart the path to salmon recovery and restoration, and to build communities where kids love and appreciate the world around them.  “Billy Frank Jr. dedicated his professional life, dedicated his entire existence to habitat restoration. We can’t forget that continuing destruction of environment impacts us all. Our job as stewards is to train our youth to stay the course.”

Billy Frank Jr’s son, Willie Frank, accepted the award with grace and humility, wishing that Billy himself could be there to receive the honor he so truly deserved.

George Kenny took over as auctioneer for the “Stay the Course” items and programs which are underfunded at the Salmon Center but necessary in continuing our mission. Donors bid on the opportunity to help sponsor scholarships, internships, summer  youth programs such as Envirocamp and GreenStream, Salmon in the Classroom,  summer chum and steelhead research, planting trees and maintenance and care of our trails and farm animals. All of these programs strengthen the connection between salmon, community and the environment.

A lively bidding contest took place over the beautiful one-of-a-kind hand carved cedar salmon bench donated by George Kenny of Bear in a Box chainsaw carving school in Allyn.

The Canoe Family brought the evening to a close with graceful paddling dances and rythyms on the hand crafted drums.

A big thank you to all our staff, board members, table sponsors, and partners in helping make this evening such a memorable success.

Special thanks to:

  • Willie Frank and the Nisqually Tribe
  • The Canoe Family
  • Amy Burnett
  • Ken Lundemo
  • Mosquito Fleet Winery
  • QFC floral department
  • Kitsap Conference Center

For any who may have missed attending the Wild Salmon Hall of Fame but still would like to participate in sponsoring or donating to any of these programs to help the HCSEG fulfill their mission at the Salmon Center please call 360-275-3575 or email beth@pnwsalmoncenter.org