The Skagit River Poetry Project began years ago so that our area students could learn from working, real life poet professionals. Students at the heart has always been our main focus and the Festival was the natural extension. Since 1998 when education leaders convinced community leaders to support the idea of a Skagit River Poetry Project, thousands of area kids have been touched by poets. Poetry has become something that is alive and relevant to our rural students and audiences. We have been fortunate to bring nationally known poets like Billy Collins and Jane Hirshfield to our community and we continue this important work even in the face of large budget cutbacks. By offering fewer poets at the Festival and more poetry events in the community, this helps us be less dependent on grants. We are committed to maintain the quality of past Festivals and school projects this cycle with the help of our community of passionate poetry lovers.