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amy eberling

founder/executive director/captain

Amy spent ten wonderful years bringing science alive as a high school biology teacher.  After experiencing the power of hands-on learning and the ignition of all of the senses in the outdoors, the dream and pursuit for The Salish Sea School began.  

Amy is now dedicated to cultivating student leaders through unique and purposefully tailored programs that bring science and research alive.

She is super stoked to provide an environment that not only fosters experiential lessons, but also provides a lifelong community of youth that care for each other and the oceans.  Amy believes in the importance of encouragement, support, and guidance during high school years and is grateful to countless mentors and coaches in her life. She is excited to foster these elements and grow a youth leadership program in marine conservation.

Amy was a collegiate lacrosse player and coach, served as a marine naturalist aboard multiple vessels, completed training as a Salish Sea Steward, and is a fierce advocate for the endangered population of Southern Resident Killer Whales through her environmental reform work. 

She holds a Bachelor's of Science in Biology, Master's in Multicultural Education, a USCG Captain's License, and meets Coast Guard training requirements. 

Amy, her husband Nick, and 5-year old daughter Isla are residents of Anacortes, WA.


amanda colbert

board member/naturalist/deckhand

Amanda Colbert is the Education and Outreach Coordinator for The Salish Sea School and strives to educate people of all ages about the diverse marine wildlife of the Salish Sea. She’s especially passionate about the importance of interconnectedness, along with mindfulness for the wildlife, their habitats, and preserving the natural resources that this unique bioregion provides.

Amanda’s love for orcas started this journey when she was just eight years old. Through obtaining her marine naturalist certification, she was introduced to this region’s avian world and found a fast love for birds! Over the last five years she’s become an avid birder and is learning to identify birds not just by sight, but by sound, as well. Amanda has led boat-based tours as a naturalist for school groups in Puget Sound as well as aboard Snow Goose for North Cascade Institutes’ fall birding tour. Amanda is assisting The Salish Sea School in gathering survey and behavioral data on the endangered Tufted Puffins that breed at Smith Island.


Amanda lives with her husband in Skagit county and is a birding enthusiast, hiker, lover of the outdoors, and hobbyist photographer. 

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taylor white

board member/artist

Taylor is an exceptionally talented artist! She claims that she continues to develop herself as an artist by exploring new mediums, but we aren't sure how she could get any better! We haven't found anything she isn't capable of and are so pumped to have her on board!


She has done a phenomenal job capturing the marine life within the Salish Sea through her incredible water color paintings and we can't wait to share them with you.

Her art will be featured in the "The Salish Sea Guide" curriculum that each student will receive through participation in Guardians of the Sea. Furthermore, her art has been turned into greeting cards to be used as a program fundraiser. Take a look here!


cathy norman

mindfulness curriculum developer

Cathy Norman helps with curriculum development for the mindfulness element of the Guardians program. She is a Hatha Integral Yoga instructor (RYT 200) and has studied mindfulness and meditation practices through her yoga training and the Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction 8 week course.  She has studied with Dr. Susan Carol Stone (UVA Mindfulness Center) and other mindfulness experts.   


She is certified to teach mindful yoga to children and families (Budding Yogis). She also completed training at the Shalem Institute in leading contemplative small groups and retreats. Cathy taught for 4.5 years in an Intensive Outpatient Program at  Prosperity Eating Disorder Clinic.  She  leads nature based meditative practices at her studio and home.

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betsey thoennes

photographer/web support

It is rare to find Betsey indoors! Whether it be out chasing the Southern Resident Orcas on the west side of San Juan Island, taking photos from her kayak or sculling on Lake Sammamish near her home in Redmond, WA, she belongs outside! 

Her background as a developer, project manager and technology integration consultant lends itself well to her environmental advocacy and activism passions.  She provides web & social media support for several marine ecology groups.

Many of our photos were taken by Betsey! She never fails to capture incredible moments from the beautifully diverse life in and around the Salish Sea.  We are stoked to share her pictures with you and cannot wait to see what else she captures for us! 


dana flerchinger

assistant teacher

Dana is originally from Spokane, Washington, but grew up visiting the San Juan Island region. The spectacular ecosystems of the Salish Sea sparked her passion for marine conservation and inspired her to pursue a bachelor’s degree in Environmental and Ocean Sciences from the University of San Diego. After completing her undergraduate degree, she returned to Washington, but relocated to the opposite side of the state in Anacortes. She has spent 3 years working as a marine naturalist on whale watching expeditions and loves educating others about marine ecosystems and environmental conservation.


Dana is starting her master’s degree in Environmental Science at Western Washington University in Bellingham, where she will focus on environmental toxicology and chemistry. Through this program, Dana hopes to gain a greater understanding of how contamination impacts the marine environment and what can be done to mitigate these impacts. In her free time, Dana loves immersing herself in outdoor activities, whether it be hiking up a mountain with her dog, swimming in an alpine lake, or just taking in a sunrise or sunset.


tiffany waldner

assistant teacher

I was born and lived in Minnesota the first twelve years of my life and then Wyoming for eleven.  My love for wildlife began at a very young age.  From the time I could crawl I almost always had a pair of binoculars and was out looking for insects, birds, moose, and any other wildlife. I always filled my families ears with animal facts.  

I moved to Washington in 2019 with a goal to make my long time dream  of working with whales and wildlife come true. Through experience with internship, volunteer, and job opportunities I made parts of my dream come true. 

Mountains, the ocean, and wildlife are my happy places.  I spend my free time hiking, kayaking,  tidepooling  and scanning the beaches, and taking photos of nature. I like a challenge and to try new things, so never close my mind to new possibilities or experiences in life. 

Pinnipeds and sea turtles are my main focus as I go forward in life. I hope to volunteer or work with all 33 species of pinnipeds and all 7 species of sea turtles. Nature and wildlife give me a purpose in life.  It is the one aspect of my life I’ve always felt certainty and a sense of peace. My mission in life is to protect the places and creatures I love, and spread the love I feel to the next generation.  

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cindy elliser, ph.d

science advisory

Dr. Cindy R. Elliser received her B.S. (2000) and M.S. (2003) in Biological Sciences from Florida Atlantic University (FAU) and received her Ph.D. in Integrative Biology from FAU in 2010. For 10 years she worked with Dr. Herzing and the Wild Dolphin Project studying Atlantic spotted and bottlenose dolphins in the Bahamas.


In 2014 Dr. Elliser moved to the Pacific Northwest and founded Pacific Mammal Research to study marine mammals in the Salish Sea, particularly harbor porpoises and harbor seals. She is the author of numerous papers in peer-reviewed scientific journals and has presented at international scientific conferences. Dr. Elliser also teaches biology and related courses as an adjunct professor at Skagit Valley College.


peter hodum, ph.d

science advisory

Peter Hodum’s research is in the areas of avian ecology and conservation biology. He is particularly interested in conservation-based research, including the impacts of anthropogenic threats such as marine plastic debris, habitat alteration and loss, introduced species, and fisheries interactions on bird populations and island ecosystems. In the Pacific Northwest, he is studying the ecology, population dynamics, and conservation status of burrowing seabirds, principally Rhinoceros Auklets and Tufted Puffins.


He collaborates with the Slater Museum of Natural History to study the effects of marine plastic debris on marine food webs by using seabirds, forage and bottom-dwelling fish, and filter-feeding species, such as mussels, as biological indicators. Hodum co-founded and leads a long-term community-based conservation program in Chile, with a particular focus on the Juan Fernández Islands and Isla Mocha. The work aims to conserve threatened land- and seabird communities using applied research, active community engagement and participation, and ecological restoration to improve the conservation status of priority species, mitigate the impacts of introduced species, restore critical habitat, and increase community support for and capacity to participate in conservation.


Hodum is director of Chile Programs for Oikonos, a nonprofit that leads conservation projects in Chile, California, the north Pacific, New Zealand, Mexico, and Antarctica. Hodum has co-authored the book chapter, “The social dimension—public involvement in seabird island restoration,” in Seabird Islands: Ecology, Invasion, and Restoration (2011), multiple endangered species conservation strategies in both Chile and Canada, research papers on a variety of topics related to avian conservation and marine plastics, and government technical reports for Chilean agencies . On a 2011 Fulbright grant to Chile, he taught at Universidad de Concepción and continued his research on Determining the States of and Threats to Endangered Seabird Communities. Hodum teaches a variety of courses in both the Biology and Environmental Policy and Decision Making programs, including Conservation Biology, Ornithology, Introduction to Biological Research, Senior Seminar in Environmental Studies, and Biodiversity.

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trevor derie


Trevor is a recent graduate from the University of Washington’s Aquatic and Fisheries Sciences and Biology programs. Growing up in Anacortes, he gained a passion for marine science through continuous explorations of the town’s tidepools and eventually focusing on issues pertaining to the marine environment. He has constantly remained involved in the marine world, where he has worked on a local whale watching vessel, travelled abroad to Australia to study the Great Barrier Reef and expand his scuba diving experience, and now interning under Dr. Cindy Elliser with Pacific Mammal Research. Trevor loves learning more about our local marine mammals and their behavior but is also very interested in coral reef research and survivability.


Trevor plans to eventually continue his education on the marine environment, hoping to study the effects of climate change on marine life and how we can better prepare and protect the oceans for a threatening future. Outside of his education and research, he is an avid outdoorsman, whether it be snowboarding, running, or hiking in the local mountains.

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stacy de la o

volunteer consultant, cae

Stacy De La O, CAE, is a certified association executive and principal consultant for Sage & Rosemary Consulting. She has supported leaders, volunteers, strategic partners and programs at nonprofit organizations for over 25 years. She has broad expertise in association governance, volunteer engagement, diversity and inclusion, nonprofit operations and fundraising. 

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kelsey hansen


Kelsey is originally from Idaho, but she has been calling the Pacific Northwest home for several years. Some of her greatest passions are the Salish Sea and the wildlife that call it home. She graduated from Idaho State University with a B.S. in Integrative Organismal Biology and from Southern Oregon University with a M.S. in Environmental Education and Nonprofit Management. She has proudly worked in whale watching, environmental nonprofits, national parks, and much more since living in Washington and Oregon.

When Kelsey is not working, she is playing outdoors, cooking or baking, reading, painting, or travelling. Her favorite critters in the Salish Sea would definitely be the southern resident orca whales, but she also loves a good tufted puffin or display of bioluminescence (noctiluca!).


craig olson


coming soon


paul belanger, ph.d

science advisory

coming soon