ESC long-time volunteer, naturalist and friend, and community caregiver.
For a decade, Sheri Barr volunteered with the Environmental Science Center on the beach, in meetings, at festivals, in the storage room, and at the sewing machine. Sheri’s grandmother helped her sew her first dress when she was 10, and from then on she never stopped creating. Her talents as a seamstress blended with her rigor as a scientific educator to turn fabric into unique and anatomically correct models of salmon, sea life, and other critters featured in ESC’s programs. Students of all ages enjoy handling her models that mimic the textures and interesting adaptations of animals. Each year, thousands of students are pleased to learn about the specialized anatomy of salmon by examining the removable fabric organs on models before touching real salmon specimens. At beach programs, folks are also pleasantly surprised to find her sea star comes with a stomach that can evert itself just like the real thing. These small innovations have made a world of difference to help people further connect with the natural world. Sheri’s passion can still be felt through each one and will continue to touch us all.
We asked why Sheri cared so much about conservation.
“It’s just my life.”
Nearly every program at ESC has been enriched through Sheri’s many gifts. She continued to share her skills, her insights, and her love of nature with others until her passing this fall. One of her core commitments was helping others, which also started at a young age. At 13, she began volunteering for Head Start, followed by the American Red Cross, Humane Society, Greenpeace, Tukwila Pool, Seattle Aquarium, and fortunately for us, the ESC. Sheri began her involvement in ESC by becoming a Beach Naturalist with the Aquarium, along with being a naturalist with the Cedar River Salmon Journey. This led to her becoming a member of ESC’s former Program Committee, and blending her lifetime sewing skills into artistic forms of environmental education as she continued to engage people as a naturalist. Sheri’s relationship to ESC continued to evolve, and in 2019 she joined ESC’s Board. Volunteering was a way for her to make a difference for many and it showed how much she cared about her community and environment.
Sheri lived across the street from the upper part of Seahurst Park, and had a great interest in educating the public on the beauty and wonders of nearshore habitats, along with what a wonderful gift we have here in Burien. Her passion and work inspired thousands of people every year to take better care of the world around us. Sheri’s legacy will live on. We hope you were able to play along with her at festivals or be enraptured by her side on beach walks. We also hope that when our programs resume you can admire her models with your eyes, hands and heart.