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The Citizen Action Training School is a civic engagement and watershed and marine ecology program that will train future community leaders to support Puget Sound recovery efforts locally and regionally.

 Check out this testimonial from recent CATS participants with the North Creek Community Forest.

CATS Participants- Click Here for materials and recordings (password required).

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The seven Puget Sound Regional Fisheries Enhancement Groups (RFEGs) recognize that wild salmon populations cannot survive without a healthy Puget Sound, and are committed to nourishing conscious communities that are advocates for and stewards of their part of the Salish Sea.

And so, the Puget Sound RFEGs are excited to announce the launch of the Citizen Action Training School, or CATS, which will create a pool of future community leaders who are aware, educated, and active stewards and advocates for their watersheds and the greater Puget Sound.  CATS is a 12 week training program in watershed and Puget Sound ecology, with an added focus on civic engagement in the legal and regulatory  processes that affect resource management.

Curious? Check out this article from NSEA’s Fishtales newspaper written by Bellingham CATS student Sonja Wittmier or this video developed by a student of the Bellingham CATS program as their service project:

Our Sound, Our Community, Our Chance- Citizen Action Training School from Rachel Benbrook on Vimeo.

CATS Program Details

UPDATE:  We are wrapping up the last CATS sessions funded by our first grant round, stay tuned for information about upcoming sessions as they are scheduled.  If you want to be informed of opportunities as they arise, email CATS Coordinator Rachel Benbrook.

At least five CATS sessions will be offered free of charge to community members from all around the Sound in 2013 and 2014.  Participants will receive 50 hours of training over three months in the form of weekday evening classes and a few Saturday field sessions.  Following this comprehensive training, participants will give back by volunteering at least 50 hours to plan and complete a service project in their community related to one of three Puget Sound Strategic Initiatives: 1) Prevention of Stormwater Pollution, 2) Protection/ Restoration of Habitat, 3) Recovery of Shellfish Beds.

CATS is a great opportunity for anyone interested in Puget Sound recovery, especially for folks who want the tools to be active in their community and advocate in support of local watersheds and shorelines.   The training sessions will be conducted on a diverse spectrum of issues related to Puget Sound recovery (click here for the CATS Curriculum) and by presenters who are experts in their field, so this is an awesome opportunity for students, government officials, concerned citizens and others to get a great education on both the natural and human communities of Puget Sound.

Program History

CATS is actually the resurrection of a successful pilot program from the early days of the Puget Sound recovery effort.  The original program, led by the Pilchuck Audubon Society in Snohomish County in 1988, was focused on local watersheds and trained a productive group of participants.  Some of their service projects are still active today, 23 years later!  The long lasting ripple effect of the CATS program caught the eye of the Puget Sound Partnership and led them to set aside funding to bring it back to life, this time with a focus on Puget Sound recovery.



The first CATS sessions were held in Bellingham and Olympia beginning  in  September 2013, and in Seattle in early 2014. Additional sessions are planned for Fall 2014 in Everett and on the Olympic Peninsula. Classes will be held weekday evenings from 6-8:30 PM and on the occasional Saturday from 10 AM – 4 PM.  E-learning will be available for some sessions to facilitate participation. See below for a detailed schedule of CATS sessions:

CATS Session Location

Weekly Classes Start

Weekly Classes End

Service Project Implementation

Staff Contact





January-February 2014

Rachel Benbrook


South Sound



January-February 2014

Jerilyn Walley





June-September 2014

Leihla Scharlau




Mid December 2014

January-March 2015

Kelley Govan


Olympic Peninsula


Early December 2014

January-March 2015

Reed Aubin


Want to share CATS with your friends? Use this CATS One Pager.

Funding for this program provided by:


2 thoughts on “Home

  1. For those of you considering this program in your area, I can’t recommend it enough. I completed the program in Bellingham and am now working on my project. The instruction was excellent, the opportunities to meet the players in agencies, non-pforits, and private sector who are working hard in their very different ways to protect watershed ecology is unique, and the preparation you receive to serve the needs of the environment based upon your own passions and interest is very exciting.

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