Homer Alaska - News

Story last updated at 9:00 PM on Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Beth Trowbridge wears multiple hats

Kachemak Color

By McKibben Jackinsky
Staff Writer

Go to a volleyball game, she's coaching. Participate in a Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies activity, she's designed the program. Bite into a Girl Scout cookie, she organized getting that cookie to town. Turn on KBBI Saturday morning, you'll hear her voice.


Photo by Lindsay Trowbridge

Beth Trowbridge, program director for Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies,enjoys Sunday afternoon at the center's family bonfire event.

If Beth Trowbridge had a hat for each role she plays, she'd have an impressive collection of headwear.

"I grew up with a jack-of-all-trades background," said Trowbridge. "Even in my schooling, I feel like I dabbled in a lot of areas. ... It's fun to be involved."

Trowbridge, her husband Charlie and the couple's three oldest children moved to Homer from Cordova 14 years ago after Charlie accepted a career move with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

In 2000, Trowbridge, who has a minor in Native studies and a secondary teaching certification, began working as a part-time educator during the winter for the Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies. She coordinated CACS activities at the Boys & Girls Club, the Pratt Museum and the Homer Public Library. Her involvement spread to developing the center's spring and summer education programs. She eventually became manager of the Wynn Nature Center and has acted as the center's executive director twice, most recently after the death of Terry Shepherd in February 2010.

"Literally, in my view, (Trowbridge) saved the center from what could have been a very, very tough setback," said Mike Allen, the center's current executive director. "The board members stepped up, too, but without Beth's steady hand on the wheel, it would have been a rough time for virtually everyone involved at the center."

Trowbridge and Melanie Dufour are long-time co-workers at the center, where Dufour is the office manager.

"She's so humble and strong in what she knows, she's not afraid to let people work to their maximum capacity," said Dufour.

In January, Allen asked Trowbridge to take over the CACS program director role, making her responsible for program development, content and implementation at the center's Peterson Bay Field Station and at Wynn Nature Center. "Kachemak Currents," a Saturday morning program on public radio station KBBI, is another tool Trowbridge uses to educate the public.

"She always has something interesting to say," said Terry Rensel, KBBI program director. In addition to the program's content, Rensel praised Trowbridge's production skills. "She comes in, is ready to roll and knocks it out."

Trowbridge recently received an ocean literacy award sponsored by the Center for Ocean Science Education Excellence, a National Science Foundation-funded program. In nominating her, Allen noted Trowbridge's contributions to CACS, as well as the online oil spill curriculum she designed that is housed by the Prince William Sound Regional Citizens Advisory Council and was used in the Gulf of Mexico after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill. Allen also credited her participation in developing the Alaska Seas and Rivers curricula to help teachers understand the impacts of climate change.

"Her work has influenced many thousands of students' understanding of ocean literacy and has no doubt made a difference in the future of our seas," wrote Allen in the nomination.

Having been a Girl Scout and valuing what scouting offered, Trowbridge became re-involved through her oldest daughter, Cora. Although Cora is now 22, Trowbridge has continued her involvement. She coordinates the annual cookie sale; implements a yearly program that highlights the impact of local women mathematicians, scientists and artists; and organizes activities such as camping skills weekends, science trips to CACS's Peterson Bay site and a Girl Scout naturalist program. She also takes on the responsibilities of Service Unit Leader Tina Seaton when Seaton accompanies her husband, Rep. Paul Seaton, to Juneau for the legislative session.

"Whether in the natural and environmental science arena, teamwork, sportsmanship or just having fun learning about and enjoying the great outdoors, Beth is someone you want your children to spend some time with because you know they will come out better for it," said Seaton.

Through coaching volleyball for Homer's middle and high schools, Trowbridge has found a way to share her love of sports with Homer's young people and an avenue for staying involved with her own children.


Photo by McKibben Jackinsky

Storyteller Beth Trowbridge of the Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies draws a crowd of young listeners at Homer Public LIbrary's story hour in January 2007.

Homer High activity director Pam Newton praised Trowbridge's coaching abilities.

"One of the things that athletes love to see is their stats after the game or season. Beth is one of the best coaches at collecting and analyzing these numbers for the kids. She can put a positive spin on anyone's numbers. She really cares for her athletes on and off the court. She pours all of her time into the season and loves what she does," said Newton.

Asked how she balances her many involvements with family — husband Charlie and children Charlie, 23, Cora, 22, Paul, 14, and Rebecca, 3 — Trowbridge credited a decision she and Charlie made that she would not work full-time for most of the time their children were young, a "pretty flexible" schedule at Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies and a desire to be involved in her kids' activities.

"That and the fact that I come from a family of over-achievers anyway," said Trowbridge. "I guess it's in my blood no matter what."

McKibben Jackinsky can be reached at mckibben. jackinsky@homernews.com.