Rachel Riddle, Trustee
Orcas Island Historical Museums
Can you share a little bit about yourself?
I was born and raised in Lewiston, Idaho in the beautiful Lewis-Clark Valley. Growing up there made me very interested in history, geology, and archaeology/anthropology. My family has been building jet boats down there since the 1960s. Instead of family vacations, we spent time in Hells Canyon on our boat and camping on the banks of the Snake and Salmon Rivers.
I moved to Walla Walla in my early 20s, and fell in love with wine. I’ve been working with wine for the past 13 years, and I have met the most interesting people from all over the world.
My partner, Aaron, and I moved to the island in late 2020, and I was immediately obsessed with combing the beaches of Orcas. I have quite the collection of sea glass and other artifacts. Sometimes, I make jewelry out of my finds. I enjoy a good mystery, and for the last few years, I have been trying to do more research about my family, and a great-great grandfather who disappeared in the 1920s to start a new life. I have always been fascinated by the way that others live.
Can you tell us about the organization you volunteer at?
I started volunteering as a docent/greeter at the Orcas Island Historical Museums a few months after moving here. I joined the Board as a Trustee in September 2021, and I have been very involved in the creation of a new Bison Antiquus Exhibit that will debut in late July.
Our bison skull and bones in the museum collection are over 14,000 years old. I’m so excited to show locals and visitors this amazing thing that was found right here on Orcas.
Our museum is made up of six pioneer cabins from various parts of the island, and they were moved to the present location over 70 years ago. We have several wonderful pieces in the collection that have been donated by many Orcas families. We also have the Crow Valley Schoolhouse from the 1800s which has been wonderfully preserved. We work with the schools and The Funhouse on programs to help teach our island history to the kids on Orcas.
What does volunteering do for you?
Volunteering for the museum has helped me find the sense of community that I’ve always been searching for. My museum family has taught me so much since I joined it. I guess I’ve just always wanted to feel like I belonged to something. Seeing the Bison Exhibit and our new museum gift shop come along has given me a great sense of accomplishment and pride.
Collectively, with our volunteers, we have improved the museum greatly in the past year, and it warms my heart to see so many of us working together as a team.
If you would like to learn about other volunteer opportunities on Orcas, please email Ed here. He would love to get together for tea/coffee to chat about your interests.