Ecology's brushes with the famous

Over the past 50 years, Ecology staff have worked to preserve, protect, and enhance the environment. Among our greatest assets are our partnerships with like-minded organizations, industry, and the public. Ecology staff also had the opportunity to work alongside some special people as well. For instance…

Ecology has a connection to White Christmas

The film “White Christmas” was released in 1954 and became a holiday classic. Anne Whitfield, who played the part of Susan Waverly, is the last surviving member of the film’s main cast. Whitfield starred in other films and television programs such as “Perry Mason,” “Gunsmoke,” “Dragnet” and others, as well as in countless television commercials and radio shows.

After a career that stretched more than 40 years, Whitfield and her husband moved to Washington in the 1980s. She completed a bachelor’s degree at Evergreen State College near Olympia and got a job at the department of Ecology. Whitfield worked as an outreach specialist for 14 years, educating the public about water quality issues. She was instrumental in starting World Water Monitoring Day. She retired in 2002.

Rod Serling narrated a presentation for the department in 1974

Rod Serling was the iconic host of “The Twilight Zone” from 1959 to 1964. Serling is well-known for his narration style and delivery, which has been imitated for decades.

Back in 1974, Ecology employee Gary Amos was working on a slide presentation describing our work. He needed a good narrator and staff joked that he should reach out to Rod Serling. A member of the Ecology administration team actually did the legwork to write a letter to Serling asking if he would be willing to lend his voice. Serling cared about the environment and agreed to do the narration. Amos met Serling in California and the two made the recording at a studio. Ecology first published a story on our work with Serling in 2014. You can view that story and watch the video.

Bill Nye got his start working alongside Ecology

Famous “Science Guy” Bill Nye hosted a video on water quality for us back in 1989. At the time, Nye was doing a comedy show called “Almost Live!” We asked him to host a short video called “Fabulous Wetlands.” The segment became a template for his hugely popular program “Bill Nye the Science Guy,” which ran nationally from 1993 to 1998 and won 19 Emmy Awards.  

You can watch that video on our YouTube page. Nye also recounted his involvement with Ecology in a recent interview with the Seattle Times.

Other notables…

Rumor has it that hip hop recording artist Sir Mix-A-Lot worked as a member of Ecology Youth Corps prior to his breakout music career. The Youth Corps has cleaned roadsides of litter for decades. You can read more about the history of Ecology’s roadside litter cleanup efforts.

In the late 1990s, “Cheers” star Ted Danson and Academy-award winning actress Mary Steenburgen visited Ecology Director Mary Riveland to advocate for keeping oceans clean and healthy. Nearly everyone in the  building found an excuse to walk by 3A-07, then an open conference room, to see the famous pair.

Will Ecology have more brushes with fame? We’ll see what the next 50 years has in store.

Throughout 2020, we’re marking our agency’s 50th anniversary with stories on how Washington’s commitment to environmental protection has developed, and the results that commitment has achieved.