Stories from the Field

Board Spotlight: Kim Sager-Fradkin

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Olympic board member Kim Sager-Fradkin has been leading evening programs at NatureBridge Olympic for over 25 years, sharing her expertise as a local wildlife ecologist with multiple generations of students. Today, she continues to support NatureBridge’s programs and students with dedication and excitement, noting that the ripples of NatureBridge’s impact stretch far beyond the Olympic Peninsula.

As a Port Angeles, WA resident, Kim remarks that “NatureBridge for me is just part of this community,” and that her ties to the organization go back to the days when NatureBridge Olympic was known as Olympic Park Institute (OPI). Teachers who returned to OPI with their classes year after year started to request Kim’s evening program presentations by name, and Kim discovered from those teachers that her example had inspired several students to pursue studies in wildlife biology and conservation.

I’ve had teachers tell me that I’ve been a role model, especially for their female students… That’s why I care so much about the education piece. As a child, I didn’t know you could even be a wildlife biologist. I had never been exposed to one. I like to tell young people "You can do this!"
Kim Sager-Fradkin, Olympic Board Member

It was one of those returning teachers, Marie Marrs, who first invited Kim to consider joining the regional board for NatureBridge Olympic. Five years after becoming a board member, Kim reflects on the reason why participating in NatureBridge’s leadership matters to her. “I believe so strongly in the mission,” she says. “I think it’s really important to educate our next generation of leaders. We need stories and positive examples…to instill a love of nature and the environment in future generations.”

I think that young people can make such a huge difference by bringing home what they learned…and teaching their families about what they’ve learned.
Kim Sager-Fradkin, Olympic Board Member

Instilling a love of nature in others comes naturally to Kim, who has been working as a wildlife biologist since the 1990s. In her current role as wildlife program manager for the Lower Elwha Klallam tribe, she has studied birds, small mammals, deer, elk, cougars and bears—particularly how these species interact with the environment following the removal of the Elwha River dams. It’s this research into local wildlife’s adaptations post-dam removal that caught the attention of filmmakers at Tangled Bank Studios.

Kim began collaborating with Tangled Bank Studios back in 2013, when tribal member Cameron Macias (who is one of Kim’s mentees as well as NatureBridge alum) was featured in their short film “Think Like a Scientist.” That film was screened in film festivals across the country to great acclaim, and Tangled Bank continued to send out camera crews to Port Angeles and the Elwha River for years afterward to film “B roll” footage, relying on Kim as their local contact. When Tangled Bank later decided to make a short film about the dam removals on the Elwha, Kim and other local researchers were featured in the resulting documentary, “The Beautiful Undammed.”

“The Beautiful Undammed” was recently shown at NatureBridge’s Evening on the Lake event in Seattle, and Kim participated in a panel discussion following the screening. Describing the opportunity to discuss the film and the topic of the Elwha restoration with the NatureBridge audience, Kim remarks that “It was a lot of fun… The more people that see [the film], the better.” Kim also notes that she felt very affirmed by the level of interest and support from the crowd—both in relation to the Elwha restoration project and to NatureBridge itself (a NatureBridge/Lower Elwha Klallam joint summer program is referenced in the film).

I love that people have the ability [to demonstrate their support] and feel so strongly about a place and an organization…it’s really a testament to how people view NatureBridge and what it is accomplishing.
Kim Sager-Fradkin, Olympic Board Member

Thank you, Kim, for your inspiring research and conservation efforts and for serving as a leader and a role model to so many young people through your work with NatureBridge!

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