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WSU Extension fund raising going well

Thanks to help from an anonymous, private donor, the county’s WSU Extension program has already exceeded its budgeted fund raising goal.

The extension, which offers educational outreach about Island County’s environment and resources, relies heavily on donations from private individuals and public entities to support its broad range of services.

Extension Director Don Meehan said that the approximately $11,000 raised so meets the stated goal, but it’s still a drop in the bucket compared to the agency’s needs.

The extension relies on a network of more than 700 volunteers to teach classes and run community programs such as 4-H, Beach Watchers and the Waste Warriors.

Meehan said that the private donor has been providing matching donations for every dollar each group raises.

“We’re trying to engage our community to match what our private donor is offering up,” he said.

Events such as the recent spaghetti feed provide opportunities for the extension services to bring in badly needed dollars. A program to sell personal license plates bearing the image of the lighthouse near Fort Casey also recently began.

But Meehan said that program has a few years before it can be a reliable source of funds for preservation of the lighthouse.

“We don’t expect it to be a savior any time soon,” he said. “There is nearly $30,000 in up front costs to be paid off before we see even a dollar.”

Fundraising for an education-oriented group is a difficult task because it interrupts the opportunities to provide classes, Meehan said.

“How much time do you spend raising money?” he said. “And how much time do you spend going out and doing what you are supposed to do, which is educating the public?”

And the public wants education.

“We can not meet the needs from the community to provide the education opportunities they want,” Meehan said.

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