The City of Issaquah recognized community members or organizations that have shown exceptional effort and dedication to protecting and stewarding the environment and the surrounding community with the Ruth and Dan Kees Award and the Community Environmental Award. The winners of these awards were recognized at the April 17 City Council meeting with the Mayor, City Council and a community reception.
Ruth and Dan Kees Award
The Ruth & Dan Kees Award for a Sustainable Environment honors the legacy of Ruth Kees, a grassroots activist for more than four decades who advocated for preservation of landmarks and natural areas. The award that is made in her honor aims to recognize individuals or organizations whose work has resulted in clear benefits to the environment and long-term sustainability of the Issaquah community.
Robin Kelley is this year’s awardee. She has spent 20+ years protecting salmon and connecting people to the natural world through her work on education programs and the Salmon Days Festival. Ms. Kelley currently serves as the Executive Director of the Friends of the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery (F.I.S.H.) where she has spent over six years fostering key relationships at the city, county and state level. Ms. Kelley has further championed environmental stewardship education for all ages through programs at the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery and through her work as a co-leader of the Issaquah Chamber of Commerce Festivals Office where she has been instrumental in the success of the Issaquah Salmon Days Festival.
Ms. Kelley exemplifies the lifelong commitment to environmental stewardship for which this award was developed and continues to lead the community in protecting and enhancing the natural world and our connection to it.
Community Environmental Award
This year the Community Environmental Award is being granted to Anne Newcomb and Jon Smith.
Anne has been a community leader in environmental activism for many years. She embraces the mentality of 'think global, act local' as an advocate for the Issaquah Alps Trail Club (IATC), recently taking on the position of Board President.
Anne recently coordinated IATC's efforts to meet with elected officials in Olympia for Trust Land Transfer, a program that would allow the Department of Natural Resources to put more trust land into conservation status. Anne has been a Forest Steward for spaces around Issaquah and has served on the Issaquah Environmental Board since its inception in 2020.
Jon has led 15+ monthly Issaquah Litter Clean Up events since November 2021. Recruiting online, the hour-long clean ups attract up to 25 people each week and have resulted in significant amounts of trash being removed from public spaces such as sidewalks, trailheads, roadways and along creek beds.
Building on the success of these cleanups, Jon is connecting with local schools to launch litter awareness campaigns and to encourage youth to take part in litter clean-ups. Jon’s work is a reminder to our community that small actions and the work of dedicated community members make a difference in protecting and enhancing our local environment.
Thank you for all the work you do, Robin, Anne, and Jon!