Among the 22 major estuaries along the Oregon Coast, Tom Younker has made the South Slough Estuary home for over 75 years. Growing up around the water, his only restriction was his mother's words telling him to not "go north of the bridge". The Slough was the playground in which Younker spent his days. In the early mornings Younker would take his row boat out by himself onto the incoming tide and kept his dog on his lap to look behind him. His grandmother lived not far from his own home, near the lighthouse and would often make the trip for early morning sourdough pancakes after time spent on the water. Younker remembers spending many late nights fishing with his father on the slough, watching the salmon take off in the moonlight and then cooking their fresh finds in the smokehouse on their property.
Younker understands the importance of preserving the land. Younker has watched the landscape of his youth change. He has witnessed the efforts of what the National Estuarine Research Reserve System (NERRS) has done to help the slough reclaim it's once prosperous landscape.