Environmental Education

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Mar 01

[ARCHIVED] Remembering our Friend and Colleague: Brian Abbott

The original item was published from March 1, 2017 12:24 PM to March 1, 2017 12:48 PM

Brian Abbott (2)From our Board Chairwoman, Jeanette Dorner

It’s with great sadness that we remember Brian Abbott, former District Manager and longtime champion for Puget Sound salmon recovery, who recently passed away. I first met Brian when I was a community volunteer in 1996. I was looking for help in bringing back salmon to the stream I grew up on. Brian and his team at the Pierce Conservation District not only agreed to help me - they made me feel that I was an honorary member of their Conservation District family. And together we brought back salmon to my creek. I didn’t know it at the time but Brian had only started working at the district one year previously as a technician. After only a year as a technician Brian was promoted to Manager of the District. Those of you who know Brian well should not be surprised by this rapid rise to leadership. Brian was passionate, committed and always ready to lead.

Within 3 years of becoming manager Brian grew his team from three employees to ten. He wrote countless grants and brought in over a half a million dollars to hire additional staff, acquire vehicles, and upgrade the computer equipment. He created the District website, set up its email system, and set up a computer network with a server. He added a fish passage program which worked to remove fish passage barriers throughout Pierce County. One summer alone the district completed 8 separate fish passage projects and Brian was engaged in all of them. He did all this while he also completed a series of salmon classes at Evergreen State College and served as the President of the Board of the South Puget Sound Salmon Enhancement Group. In 1999 he was awarded the Washington State District Employee of the Year in recognition of all of these accomplishments.

But Brian was not an all work, no play kind of manager. While he was working with his team to accomplish all of these things he created a culture where the district team felt like a family and where there was fun and goofiness along with the work. Although Brian left the District to work for the Salmon Recovery Funding Board at the state Recreation and Conservation Office in 2000 his legacy lives on at the Conservation District today. He created a foundation that his successors have built on to continue to grow the organization and make a difference for conservation and salmon in Pierce County.