A letter from our founder and Executive Director Jeff Hogan:
Killer Whale Tales was born out of my desire to change the fate of Puget Sound’s killer whales.
Orcas had been a favorite animal of mine since I was a child. When I moved to Washington State in my twenties, I rekindled my love of these animals, while at the same time learning the harsh reality of our local orca population, which would disappear in my sons lifetime if things remained as they were.
It was quite a blow to find out that just as I was rediscovering these animals, they were slipping away. The culprits for their poor condition were many, ranging from lack of sufficient prey, too many toxins in the food chain, and to the potential effects of human generated noise. It turns out things I was doing around my home were directly affecting these animals and the food chain that they so very much depended on. I needed to make a change and I needed to make sure others knew what I knew, so they to could be part of the solution.
So, I asked myself, “What are you going to do?”
Having already been a teacher for years, a photographer and a trained stage actor to boot, I knew that it had be some sort of presentation. I needed to roll my talents and passions together and somehow get people as into to this thing as I was, and I wanted to work with children. I wanted them to have all the information they could about what was going on so that they could grow up more informed and integrated into their world than I was in mine.
I wanted to give children a sense of what it was like to be both a researcher and a whale. My desire evolved itself into the two most popular breakout sessions we now offer: our orca behavior video exercise and the orca acoustic game. I also wanted them to know the whales from my perspective and how something that started out as an interest in childhood could manifest itself into a lifetime occupation. This became the foundation for the storytelling component of the program. Finally, I wanted the students to feel like they could do something tangible and become actively involved in the conservation of this now endangered species. I wanted them to be able to go home and share their excitement and translate that sense of ownership into change; hence, our Kids Making a Difference activity was born. They didn’t have to feel guilty or go home and point a finger at anyone, they just needed to make a minor course correction, like turning off a light or watching how much water they used, and they could feel like the world was better because of it.