Founder’s Day – June 24th – is the yearly commemoration of SCA’s launch in 1957 at Olympic (WA) and Grand Teton (WY) National Parks. So when the founder herself returns to the very site where she started SCA, on that very date, people tend to notice.
Washington Governor Jay Inslee proclaimed it SCA Founder’s Day across the state, lauding Liz and noting “over the past 56 years, SCA has played a critical role in preserving our national parks…my parents were SCA crew leaders, and I can personally attest to the powerful impact this program has had on participants.”
At Olympic, which is celebrating its 75th anniversary, Superintendent Sarah Creachbaum introduced Liz to a packed auditorium where Liz enthralled gobsmacked guests with tales from the intertwined histories of SCA and Olympic National Park. She spoke of everything, from accompanying US Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas on his historic 1958 hike along Olympic’s coastline to protest a planned highway (it worked, the project was abandoned) to being awakened from her sleeping bag at Heart o’ the Hills campground by kisses from an overly-friendly black bear (with no reciprocation, the bear soon lost interest).
Those attending the session – touted in the local newspaper under the headline “Conservation VIP to Speak at park’s fete” – included retired park staffers who worked with Liz in SCA’s inaugural year, the daughter of early SCA crew leaders, and students currently interning in the park, among many others. Following the presentation, Liz and Supt. Creachbaum cut a special birthday cake and served surprised yet appreciative park visitors.
Park oﬃcials managing the removal of controversial dams from the Elwha River also gave Liz a private tour of the restoration project, many elements of which are being assisted by SCA volunteers. Liz told a gathering of local SCA members and others “I am struck by the fact that as you strive to extend our nation’s natural and cultural legacy, you are building your own: as stewards of our land, as citizens of our communities, as leaders for our future. You give me the greatest hope that our mountains and waters and wildlife are in the best of hands. I thank each and every one of you for service, sweat and sacrifice and I cannot wait to see what you and SCA accomplish next.”