On Sunday, June 27, during the 2021 Convention of the League of Women Voters of Washington, the prestigious Evergreen Award was presented to Karen Verrill.
The Evergreen Award was established in 2016 to honor extraordinary Action that in some way benefits the League. Evergreen trees not only grow on both sides of the state, they are the symbol of our state. They represent green vibrancy and life-long connections.
Karen Verrill’s long participation in and contributions to League are outstanding example of those characteristics. Most notably it is Karen’s role in development, evolution, production and acclaim of the civics textbook, The State We're In: Washington—Your Guide to State, Tribal and Local Government we recognize in this award.
Under Karen’s direction and management, the League produces this friendly, easy-to-read primer that covers the basics of what government is, how it works, and why we should care about it. It is generously illustrated with graphs, photos and drawings. It is the only book that includes historic and current Tribal government as an integral part of civics education. Its telling of Washington state’s history is fully inclusive of all the peoples of our state.
After many enhancements and editions, this book, written for middle school and up, was recently followed up by a Grades 3 – 5 Edition. Suitable for elementary students, it contains many colorful images, descriptive pictures and graphics. These not only enhance the text but demonstrate the ethnic and geographic diversity of our state. There are chapters on how the early explorers affected the Tribes, some details about early explorers who arrived by ship, the Lewis and Clark Expedition and other items required for these grades. There are two chapters about how our Tribes govern themselves and how they interact with state and local governments. Other chapters describe how our state was formed, how local and state governments work and how governments effect the natural world.
Although Karen grew up in Washington, It was near Houston that Karen got involved with a local League. She regularly wrote articles for the newspaper, coordinated recycling at the local Safeway, and testified at city council meetings. On subsequent moves with her husband Gordon, Karen knew to look for the League as a place to learn “what’s going on” and to connect with fellow activists. In 1987, when Gordon retired, they set out from Maine and caravanned across Canada for six weeks with two vehicles, a trailer, two canoes, two cats, a dog, and Karen’s mother. Soon Karen was involved with the Thurston County League. She has served in many local and state positions, as well as doing her exemplary civics education work. For people throughout the state, Karen is a “go to person,” who keeps folks grounded in how the League does things and encourages members to uphold the League’s important mission by following her example.