‘Bag Monster’ conservation leader recognized with Eleanor Stopps Environmental Leadership Award in Port Townsend – PDN

Jude Rubin has been awarded the Eleanor Stopps Environmental Award. Eleanor was once named “Citizen of the Century” by Jefferson County, the only person ever to receive that title, for her tireless work to protect Protection Island. The Eleanor Stopps Environmental Leadership Award is awarded annually to a citizen of the North Olympic Peninsula (Jefferson and Clallam Counties) who has: 1. Led a successful resource conservation effort that benefits the north Olympic Peninsula and its residents directly. 2. Acted as a community catalyst for programs, initiatives or ventures that demonstrate a commitment to the future of the earth and its biodiversity 3. Become a model for future leaders, educators, or has been an exemplary citizen or policy maker who has implemented decisions that, through they may entail risks, help our communities take the next step towards environmental sustainability.

Jude took on the very difficult issue of banning plastic bags in Port Townsend, which has been a source of landfill garbage and also a product that finds it’s way into waterways around the world. Jude’s humor and character “the bag monster” brought home the issue in a non threatening way, pushed the ban over the top with voters. But she’s more than that one issue. She was the founding member of the NW Watershed Institute, and  was also the founder of Shooting Star Farm, which produces locally grown food. In 1996, she co-wrote the  Chimacum Watershed Coho Salmon Restoration Assessment (1996)

Jude as bag lady, and Janine Boire the Executive Director of the PT Marine Science Center. (photo by Al Bergstein)

Jude as bag lady, and Janine Boire the Executive Director of the PT Marine Science Center. (photo by Al Bergstein)

Over a decade ago, Jude Rubin was listening to school fund raising ideas at a parent’s meeting and thought, “If children can wash cars and sell magazine subscriptions, why not sell honorary tree cards and plant trees to raise money?” Nearly every winter since, over 150 students, teachers and parents from five local schools plant about 3,000 native trees and shrubs at salmon restoration sites prepared by Northwest Watershed Institute along Tarboo Creek. Before the planting event, Jude, in her role as Stewardship Director with Northwest Watershed Institute, meets with the children in classrooms throughout Jefferson County to help them understand the critical role that temperate rainforests play in sustaining salmon habitat. Prior to the big planting event, families sell honorary tree cards. Each card represents a tree to be planted in someone’s honor or memory. 100% of the money from the card sales goes to the schools because Jude and NWI work all year to raise grant funds and in‐kind contributions to cover the cost of the project. For many students, the Plant-­‐A-­‐Thon has served as a strong influence in their growth as environmental stewards and leaders. Thanks to the  collaborative efforts over the years led by Jude, 2015 marked the 10th annual Plant-­‐A-­‐Thon, with a total of more than 33,000 trees planted to date, well over $150,000 raised for schools, and hundreds of children and parents gaining greater appreciation for watershed ecology and environmental service.


Jude is also well known as the “Bag Monster.“ In 2012, she took City Hall by storm with her humor and ensured a swift approval of the groundbreaking Port Townsend plastic bag ban. In the Bag Ban effort, Jude coordinated the efforts of five partnering organizations, and stepped into the public limelight to represent the campaign as “The Bag Monster,” addressing the City Council three times in a costume made of 500 disposable bags. Partly due to Jude’s persistent approach, the plastic bag ban was implemented in just seven-­‐months – one of the fastest adoptions of a bag ban proposal by any city in the country. In costume at City Council meetings, she was a force to be reckoned with.

Jude’s was instrumental  in co-­‐ founding Northwest Watershed Institute in 2001 and serving as the Stewardship Director since 2004. Over the past eleven years she has worked effectively as a scientific researcher, project manager, visiting classroom teacher, fund-­‐raiser, and has been instrumental in NWI’s nationally recognized conservation achievements. Jude’s grant writing skills, environmental and community outreach abilities, and her knowledge as a botanist and ecologist have helped NWI and many project partners to protect and restore over 4,000 acres in the Tarboo watershed, including critical stream and wetland habitat along Tarboo Creek and in Dabob Bay. Visit http://www.nwwatershed.org for more information on the landscape scale Tarboo Watershed project and other NWI achievements. Jude’s environmental achievements are a continuation of a life long commitment to the environment.

She graduated from Brown University in 1988 with a B.S. in Environmental Studies, and earned an M.S. in 1995 as both a Switzer Fellow and an R.K Mellon Fellow through the Field Naturalist Program at the University of Vermont. In the early 1990’s Jude helped launch a highly successful organic gardening education campaign in Seattle, and later worked for the Nature Conservancy in Oregon on native plant seed banking, and then at River Network as a project manager and Senior Grant Writer. In 1996, she co-­‐authored, with Peter Bahls, the Chimacum Watershed Coho Salmon Restoration Assessment as her graduate thesis, and this work provided the scientific justification for the initial $2 million raised for Chimacum salmon habitat protection and restoration.

(By Al Bergstein and Fayette Krause)


Judith “Jude” Rubin, who has worked in support of a variety of environmental causes, is this year’s recipient of the Eleanor Stopps Environmental Leadership Award.  “On behalf of the many hundreds of people who collaborated on these important projects, I am deeply honored to accept this award,” Rubin, 50, said Thursday. Rubin’s selection for the 11th annual award was announced at a Wednesday breakfast at Fort Worden State Park. Charlie Bermant reports. (Peninsula Daily News)


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