Lodie Gilbert’s commitment to helping the Southern Resident orcas is always on full display. Wherever you turn on San Juan Island, she’s involved in helping to recover the dwindling population of resident killer whales. Whether focused on fundraising or cleaning up after an event, her intentions are clear…she’s all in. She does all she possibly can to support the endangered Southern Residents.
In recent years, Lodie has raised over $100,000 for the Center For Whale Research and local Salish Sea-based non-profit organizations devoted to orca research, education, outreach, and conservation. She’s done this by designing and distributing Orca Whale greeting cards! Cards that give back! OVER ONE HUNDRED GRAND!
Photographs © Copyright 2022 Lodie Gilbert and Center for Whale Research.
Card-selling ace Lodie Gilbert’s boxed sets of 2022 Holiday Orca Cards filled the entire footprint of CWR’s ORCA SURVEY Outreach & Education Center in Friday Harbor,
San Juan Island (November 2022).
(All quotes are Lodie Gilbert’s voice unless otherwise specified.)
But to no one’s surprise (no one who knows her), Lodie shares a whale-sized chunk of credit for her remarkable fundraising achievement with others. Just like the Southern Resident pods, every whale plays a key role!
“I am very fortunate to have an incredible ‘pod’ of artists and photographers that contribute towards the Orca Whale card collection and a hubby that is dedicated to helping me prep the individual card/envelope pairings. I also feel tremendous gratitude to the retailers that sell the cards, especially PCC Community Markets, who join me philanthropically in giving back 100% of the proceeds to non-profit.”
Lodie started this philanthropic journey when she became involved with the Center for Whale Research (CWR) in 2014. While volunteering in a supporting role of CWR staff, she increased her card line Photo Cards by Lodie to include the Orca Whale collection. She collaborated with several Salish Sea naturalists (including CWR’s own Katie Jones), who enthusiastically contributed some of their best orcas-in-the-wild photographs. Each contributor realized the benefits of spreading awareness of the endangered Southern Resident whales. From the launch of the Orca Whale card collection, Lodie designated 100% of the proceeds from every card sale to the San Juan-based Center for Whale Research and their ORCA SURVEY, a five-decade-long study of the Southern Resident orcas (i.e., killer whales). With the recent growth of card sales, she says, “There’s enough love to go around” and is able to benefit other non-profit organizations that conduct research in collaboration with CWR.
No stranger to sales and marketing after a successful career with Westin Hotels & Resorts, Lodie enjoys personal contact with her retail partners.
“I love delivering and displaying the cards with our retail partners. It’s an opportunity to showcase the whales, increase awareness, and receive feedback from the store’s retail team. When I’m displaying cards, I often have customers ask me questions about the whales, which is both fun and rewarding. It’s really special how the whales connect people!”
But to no one’s surprise (no one who knows her), Lodie shares a
whale-sized chunk of credit for her remarkable fundraising achievement with others.
San Juan Island volunteers and whale enthusiasts assembling the 2022 Holiday Orca Cards.
It takes a ‘pod’ of volunteer support to process 13,000 cards.
Lodie's other Center for Whale Research role
Now, as the Center for Whale Research’s Community Relations Coordinator, Lodie’s responsibilities include:
Developing community relationships and business partnerships
Special events organization
Assisting in fundraising and philanthropy
She has also been instrumental in developing CWR’s Orca Survey Outreach & Education Center on First Street in Friday Harbor.
Center for Whale Research founder and senior scientist Ken Balcomb said this about Lodie: “We so appreciate the contributions from Lodie’s greeting cards and the increased public awareness of the Southern Resident orcas which they have fostered. We are equally indebted to her for her contributions as the Center for Whale Research’s Community Relations Coordinator and the enormous help she’s been to me and others working for our organization. And she does it all as a volunteer! I’ve thanked her a thousand times before, but I will do it again: Thank you very much, Lodie.”
Part of CWR’s team posed during construction of the ORCA SURVEY Outreach & Education Center, left to right: Darren Croft, Lisa Moorby, Ken Balcomb, and Lodie Gilbert (2018).
Every Card Gives Back
Every single one of Lodie’s greeting cards gives back. All sixteen PCC Community Markets offer her cards for sale and donate every dollar of every sale to The Center For Whale Research and other local non-profits in whale conservation.
“As a consumer, it’s nice to know where your money goes. With this card line, 100% of the proceeds from each card sale is donated to non-profits conducting research to protect and aid our endangered Southern Resident orcas. In addition to the donated funds supporting research, the increased public awareness of this magnificent species is significant. If you think about it, for every card purchased, awareness is increased at least twice: first for the customer buying the card, followed by the recipient on the receiving end! The awareness is doubled. It’s a win-win!”
Lodie’s Cards That Give Back are available at:
All sixteen PCC Community Markets
Griffin Bay Bookstore (Friday Harbor, San Juan Island)
Friday Harbor Gallery (Friday Harbor, San Juan Island)
Roche Harbor Market (Roche Harbor, San Juan Island)
Rosario Resort & Spa Gift Shop (Eastsound, Orcas Island)
Langley Whale Center (Langley, Whidbey Island); cards sold seasonally.
“With this card line, 100% of the proceeds from each card sale is donated to non-profits conducting research to protect and aid our endangered Southern Resident orcas.”
Taylor Redmond, CWR’s Katie Jones, Tasli Shaw, and Sara Hysong-Shimazu created this year’s original card designs. The premium-quality 5” x 7” folded blank cards with envelopes are available as individual cards or in boxed sets of of eight (8).
Lodie has loved marine mammals as far back as she can recall. As a little girl growing up in Seattle, her grandmother called her a dolphin because of how much time she spent in the water. But her first whale encounter wasn’t until she was in her twenties, Humpbacks in the channel off of Maui. After that, she was hooked, timing every trip to coincide with the whales’ migration to the Hawaiian islands. In 1990, a Maui-based naturalist asked if she’d ever seen the Southern Resident killer whales. She hadn’t. The summer of 1990 marked Lodie’s first visit to San Juan Island. And the first occasion where she experienced the magic attraction of “Residents.” She’s been a passionate follower and helper ever since.
“They are like extended family to me.”
After countless trips to San Juan Island, Lodie and her husband, Alan, decided to buy a property and build a vacation home to which they would eventually retire. Alan Budwill was a well-known Seattle radio personality and co-host of STAR 101.5’s Kent & Alan Show. Ironically, at one time, Alan did live on-location STAR 101.5 commercial ad spots for PCC Community Market stores.
Lodie and Alan strategically built their seaside home facing the Southern Resident orcas’ long-established fishing route. During the whales’ westside shuffle, up and down Haro Strait along San Juan Island, Lodie regularly saw her finned “family” members swimming in and out of the Strait of Juan de Fuca. And the rest is, as they say, history.
Lodie Gilbert is also a talented videographer. She shot this rare, close-up Southern Resident orca Superpod with Ken Balcomb during CWR Encounter #40, Seq 2 & 3. Read her Legendary Superpod BLOG post about this memorable time spent with ALL Southern Resident killer whale community members.
The Gilbert-Budwill family, now five strong, including adult son Blake and four-legged “kids” Willow and Wadsworth, have experienced hundreds of Southern Resident and Bigg’s Transient orca encounters during their residency on San Juan Island. They’ve also immersed themselves in their island community during the past 20 years, contributing more than most to enhance island life. Lodie’s broadest “community connection” is in the island whale collective.
“The San Juan Island community cares deeply for the health and survival of the Southern Resident orcas and their habitat, with a heightened focus on the inland waters of the Salish Sea. Hydroelectric dams, over-fishing, pollutants, and toxins, are the primary human-caused threats to the ocean food chain and the whales. These things have drastically reduced Chinook salmon abundance, the main diet of the Residents. We have witnessed the effects on the SRKWs in the time that we have lived here.”
Alan Budwill’s volunteer plate is almost as full as his wife’s. He’s emceed countless island events and festivals and is the recurrent MC of the July 4th Independence Day Parade in Friday Harbor. Some of his gigs include local whale events for CWR and Orca Network. Alan and Lodie’s son, Blake, is a talented musician in his second year of Berklee College of Music, studying remotely from their music studio.
It’s easy to see that Lodie Gilbert is all in when it comes to her talented and giving family. She’s definitely all in for her community. And she’s unquestionably all in for the seventy-three struggling Southern Resident orcas who need all of her and our help so badly.
Lodie Gilbert and CWR’s founder and senior scientist, Ken Balcomb (behind the camera), on board one of the Center for Whale Research’s research boats.
FOCUSING ON THEIR FUTURE
FOR GENERATIONS TO COME
The Center for Whale Research needs your financial support to do our work! RESEARCH / EDUCATION / CONSERVATION / ADVOCACY
You can help by purchasing Lodie Gilbert’s ORCA HOLIDAY CARDS! Every card and boxed card set gives back 100% of each sale to Pacific Northwest orca research and conservation non-profits.
And you can donate to our FOCUSING ON THEIR FUTURE fundraising campaign during this season of giving. The Center for Whale Research (CWR) team has set its sights on a challenging financial goal: raise $100,000 by the end of 2022 (thru December 31)!
Please help us raise $100,000 to benefit the Southern Resident orca community’s seventy-three (73) family members and keep ORCA SURVEY research going for 100 years! Every dollar raised goes to:
Sharing our orca expertise and increasing public awareness through the Orca Survey Outreach & Education Center in Friday Harbor, San Juan Island
Advocating best practices for recovering regional Chinook salmon and the Southern Resident orcas.
“The Center for Whale Research has been conducting ORCA SURVEY for nearly five decades, but that isn’t quite the lifespan of a Southern Resident killer whale. To truly understand their ecology, life history, and society, we must monitor and observe these whales for at least a lifetime, and ideally for multiple generations. That’s why continuing our research is so crucial.”
Dr. Michael Weiss, Research Director, Center for Whale Research
The Center for Whale Research is a 501c3 non-profit organization registered in Washington State. CWR is a 501(c)3 - ID #91-1334319