Formed by lava flows millions of years ago, Haystack Rock reaches out of the ocean as a jagged monolith over 200 feet off of the Cannon Beach shoreline. Its abundant seabird and marine life has designated it as a protected Marine Garden and National Wildlife Refuge that attracts thousands of visitors each year. Staff and volunteers of the Haystack Rock Awareness Program provide educational insights and promote stewardship of this intertidal commodity.
Haystack Rock Awareness Program (HRAP) was created in 1985 in an effort to protect the wildlife refuge through education and outreach. While the program is professionally staffed, volunteers are the backbone of the interactive tours, Citizen Science events and demonstrations held at nearly every low-tide April through October.
Jacie Gregory, named HRAP Volunteer of the year, logged over 141 hours as a volunteer during the 2017 season. A sophomore at Seaside High School, she won the Jerry and Evelyn Fitzpatrick Award for her unselfish work on the beach and behind the scenes. “I was so surprised,” Jacie says, “but am very happy about the award.”
Jacie started with the program while her stepmother worked in Cannon Beach, but what started out as a way to pass the time grew into a newfound passion for science, marine biology and even artistic inspiration.
“My favorite thing to do is talk with people. It makes me happy to share information about the sea life, and I could tell it made them happy, too,” says Jacie, who is known for her enthusiasm and positive attitude. As a volunteer, Jacie was able to help with marine bird observational studies as part of the citizen science programs, work as an educational interpreter and provide school tours of the tide pools.
“This was the first year HRAP offered tours for kids under three. We had a great time pulling them around in wagons,” recalls Jacie of the times when she assisted students in the careful exploration of the tide pools. As a volunteer, she also hosted educational outreach booths at HRAP events. In addition to distributing informational handouts, she also created original art for new educational materials, merchandise and posters. Some of her other duties included setting up displays, assisting with bird scopes, guiding tide pool tours and reminding people about the rules of the marine reserve.
Active in the community, Jacie also participates in varsity cross country, swimming and as an advanced art student. Only a sophomore, she already has ideas for her Pacifica Project (required project for all Seaside High School seniors) that she will need to complete to graduate in 2020. “The people I worked with at HRAP made my experience the best, and I am excited to work with the program for my Pacifica Project,” she said.
With the tide pool tours closed for the season, HRAP is now offering The World of Haystack Rock Lecture Series that takes place every second Wednesday of the month, November through April, from 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Cannon Beach Library. The lecture series and other HRAP programs are funded through the City of Cannon Beach, Friends of Haystack Rock, generous private donations and other funding programs.