Fish hatchery foundation prepares for grand opening

Puyallup: Nonprofit group completes finishing touches on education center

of the HeraldMarch 5, 2014 

Nearly two years ago, the Puyallup Fish Hatchery was in a perilous situation, and members of the public feared the state Department of Fish and Wildlife would sell the property to Pacific Seafoods.

Residents, city leaders and legislators helped to thwart those plans, and the state’s negotiations with the private company ended on May 30, 2012.

Today, the preservation and care of the historic hatchery is in the hands of the Puyallup Historical Hatchery Foundation. And by early spring, the nonprofit group plans to unveil an education center on the 80-acre site, located in what used to be a three-bedroom, one-bath duplex that had served as living quarters for Fish and Wildlife staff members.

“We are blessed that Fish and Wildlife allowed us to have this duplex,” said Georga Prossick, a founding director of the foundation.

Ann Coon, another founding director, said carpet needed to be ripped up and walls needed to be painted when the group first came into possession of the building.

Prossick and Coon thanked Patty Carter, who secured the foundation’s 501(c)(3) status.

They also said Diana Martin’s fundraising efforts put the foundation in a good position to fulfill the mission of completing an education center.

The foundation has secured more than $20,000 in grants from top donors, who include the Muckleshoot and Puyallup tribes and Lowe’s Home Improvement.

Lowe’s donated the paint and painted the walls. The hardware store also laid new flooring, which provides a smooth surface for those in wheelchairs.

The education center will include an open area that will display large graphics that will teach visitors about fishing and waterway preservation.

A large flat-screen TV will be on one wall and play educational videos, Prossick said.

Pierce County donated some graphics, and others were donated by Print Northwest, she said.

Outside the education center will be an ADA-accessible ramp, surrounded by landscaping that will include native shrubs. A dry creek bed will border the ramp.

Dean Vaughan put in more than 25 hours of volunteer work on the ramp. He’s also worked on the ADA-accessible bathroom, which includes a colorful fish-themed sink basin.

Vaughan is the principal owner of Tacoma’s Interior Millwork Design, which performs specialized cabinetry and home building.

“It’s time to give back,” he said. “I’m happy to be in the midst of all the brightness.”

Prossick said the foundation’s mission is to educate children about water stewardship.

“It’s a lot less expensive to educate the children first, rather than clean up the waterways later,” Coon said.

Prossick said the foundation plans to establish a dedicated fund that schools can use when they pay for field trips to the hatchery.

Prossick and Coon hope the education center will serve as a place where children can learn visually as opposed to sitting in class behind a book.

“It’s like grassroots science,” Coon said. “There is nothing that is not good about this. It’s all good.”

Once the education center is open, the foundation plans to establish guided tours of the center and the hatchery grounds, which will include access to a system of trails.

Report Andrew Fickes can be reached at 253-552-7001 or by email at andrew.fickes@puyallupherald.com. Follow him on Twitter, @herald_andrew.

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