State honors FISH master docent as volunteer of the year

July 7, 2009

By Gestin Suttle

Charles ‘Stan’ Staniforth, Friends of Issaquah Salmon Hatchery master docent,  gives students a tour of the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery. Staniforth is a 2009 recipient of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s volunteer of the year award. By Gestin Suttle

Charles ‘Stan’ Staniforth, Friends of Issaquah Salmon Hatchery master docent, gives students a tour of the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery. Staniforth is a 2009 recipient of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s volunteer of the year award. By Gestin Suttle

If you’re lucky, Charles “Stan” Staniforth will take you behind the scenes of the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery.

It’s his signature deed as a volunteer for Friends of the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery.

“I figure it’s an experience of a lifetime,” Staniforth, 80, said, explaining why he likes to allow groups to see beyond the standard hatchery tour.

On July 7, the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife was expected to honor Staniforth as a volunteer of the year during a ceremony in Mill Creek.

“When you think of an ideal volunteer who goes above and beyond on a daily basis, you think of Stan,” said Ava Frisinger, president of the FISH board of directors. “We are thrilled that Stan’s extraordinary level of service will be recognized with this award.”Staniforth is one of five volunteers from across the state that the department is honoring this year. The award is for volunteers who consistently volunteer time, labor, money or expertise for projects benefiting the department of fish and wildlife recreation.

Staniforth last year volunteered more than 475 hours at the hatchery and has amassed more than 4,100 hours since fall 2003, when he first began volunteering at the hatchery. Staniforth is a FISH master docent, a designation given to more experienced guides who received additional training about salmon, hatchery operations and the local watershed.

Staniforth had been interested in the spawning process ever since he moved to the Puget Sound area in the 1960s. He finally decided to see things from the “other side” of the pond after retiring some six years ago and saw a notice in the newspaper that FISH was seeking volunteer guides. He trained to become a guide and was hooked.

He said he finds volunteering for the hatchery most rewarding when he sees that his message has sunk in, like when a student who was on one of his tours eagerly returns with his or her parents to show them what he or she has learned.

“I really feel that we got through to that child,” Staniforth said. “I feel confident that they will take care of the future of salmon because of a 45-minute field trip.”

Staniforth’s involvement with the hatchery stretches beyond tours. He also is involved in spawning salmon and is willing to help out wherever he is needed.

“I’m the lawn cutter. I maintain the road to the upper intake,” he said regarding an area upstream of the hatchery. “I’m the window cleaner, the floor mopper. I hose out the empty (ponds) and collect the garbage.”

Staniforth said nothing is beneath him – he will even clean toilets.

“It has to be done,” he explained.

“Stan’s cheery disposition and willingness to do any task at the hatchery, no matter what it is, is the reason we nominated him for the department’s volunteer of the year award,” said John Kugen, foreman for the hatchery.

Staniforth lives in Bellevue, and is a retired airline sales executive and a retired Red Cross volunteer and employee.

Although he spends most days volunteering at the Issaquah hatchery, he still finds time to volunteer for other state agencies. He also volunteers for Lake Sammamish State Park, and has volunteered for many years for the Washington Secretary of State, transcribing ancient state records for online posting. For that work, Staniforth also received volunteer of the year recognition for the past four years from the Secretary of State.

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