Rachel Rogge and Andrew Recher from Pens and Beetles Studios
When and how were you first introduced to the North Olympic Salmon Coalition?
Over the years, while visiting family in Port Townsend, we would see the NOSC mascot Fin at various events. Also, while driving through Chimacum, we noticed all those blue tubes protecting new plants along the creek. We knew these were both associated with a local salmon habitat restoration group, but that was about as far as it went. Then we moved to the area in 2015, and this past summer, we saw the ad in The Leader seeking volunteers to count summer chum and thought it sounded interesting.
In what ways are you involved in volunteering for the Salmon Coalition, and why do you volunteer?
This was our first year volunteering for counting summer-run chum salmon. We've also volunteered our services to the group to create illustrations, graphics and design work. We had already started doing the volunteer work of counting summer chum, but after attending the annual meeting, we were impressed with NOSC's work and decided to not only join, but also offer to donate our services.
We initially decided to volunteer because it sounded like a great opportunity to learn about local natural history, see more of the area, and maybe meet some new people, since we were new to the community.
You have a background in science and biology illustration. How do you think this has influenced your desire to work with the Salmon Coalition?
While we've both studied art and science fairly extensively, we rarely get the opportunity to participate in or observe actual scientific field work. Our work mostly entails developing visual content for higher level education texts and is primarily a 9-5 desk job. We're both very interested in natural history (bird-watching, hiking, and exploring) and felt that volunteering would offer an opportunity not only to experience a very special natural history event that happens practically in our own backyard, but also to participate in "citizen science". These things make us better illustrators, better at science communication, and better community members.
Do you think others could benefit from volunteering for wild salmon habitat restoration initiatives?
Absolutely! From our perspective, it gives us a break from office work and we've been introduced to a number of interesting and friendly community members. We have family members who have lived in the area for over 20 years, and had never seen the salmon running. We've been able to share this amazing phenomenon with them, and it's a wonderful thing!
How important are salmon to you and why?
The recovery of salmon runs is inspirational. We've learned so much from observing salmon this year. The realization that their water is our water, and vice-versa, reinforces that we are a part of the ecosystem around us and that's a pretty important lesson.
Do you have a favorite memory from volunteering with us?
All of the days we surveyed were memorable, but the day that we walked the middle section of the creek, when we counted over 1,000 live chum salmon was pretty special. During surveys we've seen herons, ravens, and dippers; tracks on the banks left by otters and deer; and really cool mosses, lichens and fungi.
Is there anything else you'd like to share with our readers?
We started Pens and Beetles Studios in 2005. We draw, paint, and illustrate science textbooks, periodicals, and children's books. We're always looking for interesting new projects. You can find our contact information at
and examples of more current work at