News & Events

Introducing the Winner of the 2024 Fairbank Award for Youth Environmental Action: Tallulah Sebastian!

Author: Lilly Schneider | 04/25/24

Man and girl holding certificate

Executive Director Richard Tucker presenting Tallulah with the Fairbank Award in front of the Land Trust office in Uptown Port Townsend.

Jefferson Land Trust is pleased to introduce the winner of the 2024 Fairbank Award for Youth Environmental Action: Tallulah Sebastian, 16, of Port Townsend!

“We were honored to award Tallulah with the Fairbank Award,” said Richard Tucker, Executive Director of Jefferson Land Trust. “She’s an inspiration and a wonderful example of how the youth in our region are actively engaging in a variety of community and environmental issues.”

The Land Trust established the Fairbank Award for Youth Environmental Action in 2023 in honor of longtime Land Trust volunteers Owen and Sarah Fairbank. The award and accompanying $500 prize, provided by an anonymous community member, is given to a young person (age 12-19) living in Jefferson County who has, in the last year, shown leadership, commitment, and innovation to build a community that’s healthy, happy, sustainable, and deeply connected to nature for generations to come.

When asked how it feels to be the 2024 winner, Tallulah said, “It makes me really happy to know that people not just in my generation but in the older generations, too, really care about sustainability. Port Townsend is kind of a one-in-a-million community — I don’t know if I’ll find the kind of willingness to make change in other places. It makes me really grateful to have grown up here.”

Tallulah was announced as the winner during the Land Trust’s virtual Conservation Breakfast on March 14. Jefferson Land Trust’s Board President Brian Rogers presented her with the award, and surprised her with the news that an anonymous community member was so inspired by her leadership that they matched the award’s $500 prize with an additional $500 gift to support Tallulah in her goals, including an upcoming service and learning trip to Thailand this summer with the Jefferson County Expedition Club.

We were pleased that Tallulah could join us at Breakfast to receive the award and share a few words, thanking fellow members of Port Townsend High School’s Students for Sustainability (SFS) Club, of which she is co-president; her “fantastic” SFS co-president Sawyer; her “incredible mentor,” longtime SFS advisor Laura Tucker; and the anonymous donor who supplied the surprise gift. Then, she thanked Jefferson Land Trust, saying, “You’ve provided me with so many opportunities to do the work that I find really gives me purpose in life. Thank you to all of you.”

Born and raised in Port Townsend, Tallulah grew up visiting the beach and enjoying surrounding nature. Since joining SFS at the beginning of her freshman year, she’s been inspired by the club’s strong student leaders and by the many promising projects the club has worked on over the years. Sophomore year she became vice president, and now in her junior year, she’s co-president. According to Laura, Tallulah’s commitment to the environment shines brightly through her work with SFS.

“Tallulah’s dedication to making our planet a healthier, happier place is exceptional,” Laura said. “She works hard because she values the work and what it means, not for any attention she might gain. As co-president of SFS, Tallulah has shown boundless positive energy and an ability to see the big picture while working hard not to miss a single detail. She’s done an incredible job of making SFS a club of inclusivity, active engagement, and positive reinforcement.”

Three teenage girls in raincoats and face masks at work in a gaden.

Members of SFS (circa 2021) braving the rain to work on the native plant garden at PTHS.

In addition to her exemplary leadership among SFS members, Tallulah has helped to keep the club moving on a number of impactful projects. In 2021, she worked with Local 20/20 to take an SFS idea and make it a county-wide event: a Car Free Day. That same year, she worked with the SFS members to successfully pass the idling ban. She coordinated SFS members in supporting the Land Trust’s longtime partners the Northwest Watershed Institute in their “Dabob Days” tree planting activities, and also helped organize a clean-up of Kah Tai Lagoon Park. This is all in addition to her regular duties of juggling weekly meetings, meeting with community stakeholders, speaking on behalf of SFS, and keeping up with her other clubs, sports, and schoolwork.

This past January, SFS students headed to Olympia to lobby for the ReWRAP act (HB 2049/SB 6005), a groundbreaking bill that will hold packaging companies responsible for eliminating plastic waste and establishing a consistent and effective recycling program statewide. “Unfortunately, it didn’t pass through this session, but it looks promising for the next session,” Tallulah explained. Laura Tucker shared that Tallulah did extensive research on the bill when it was first introduced in 2023 so she could present an informed perspective in Olympia, and impressed elected leaders with her presentations. Senator Kevin Van De Wege complimented her on meeting with our local paper mill to get their perspective. Tallulah also gained statewide attention with the letter of support she wrote to Representative Liz Berry, the bill’s co-sponsor, which was shared with a number of groups statewide as a template to send to representatives.

When asked to name a proud moment during her time with SFS, Tallulah doesn’t toot her own horn. Instead, she recalls the gift baskets that Jefferson Land Trust sent to SFS last year in recognition of their inspiring efforts to make our community, and the planet, a better place.

Girl giving thumbs up in nature

Tallulah helping to protect trees with cages during the 2024 Youth Corps internship program.

“I was over the moon,” she said. “It felt really good to be recognized. It was a good group moment because people were really excited about it. That and the bus rides to and from Olympia are the times when I felt we were most unified as a group.”

The Land Trust was additionally pleased to have Tallulah join us for our annual Spring Break Youth Corps paid internship program this year from April 1-5. With Jefferson Land Trust staff members and volunteers, the group of high school students learned about and undertook a variety of habitat enhancement and conservation activities on permanently protected nature preserves across East Jefferson County. They also met with natural resource professionals and other local experts to learn about conservation and natural resources-related career paths.

Tallulah says she’s thinking about a career in environmental restoration and protection, or “maybe politics.” In the meantime, she enjoys napping, caring for her houseplants, and going on walks with friends.

Whatever Tallulah chooses to do next, we wish her success with her goals and hope the recognition of the Fairbank Award helps her reach them. Congratulations to Tallulah and her family!

Read about 2023 Fairbank Award winner Diego Murray here.