On Your Doorstep Issue 1 - Page 22

facilitate quarterly collaborative meetings for the San Pablo, Wildcat, Rheem Watershed Council.

What are your biggest challenges and how do you overcome them?

One of our biggest challenges is that we have grown and shrank many times depending on our restoration projects since we lose capacity and knowledge when the projects are completed and the staff changes.

To solve this issue, we have made great efforts to recruit and retain a certain type of staff. Since we cover a very large scope of work ranging over multiple topics, we require staff who are highly trained naturalists, biologists and/or bio-engineers that also love education; or highly trained educators that also love science and engineering. Our staff must work at the intersection of science and education. We also require specialized contractors for engineering and design of our restoration projects and we have found local firms that work effectively with community-based projects and partner with us for project design, fundraising and implementation.

Is there a breakthrough or achievement that you’re especially proud of?

We are very proud of our interns and volunteers as many of them have taken on projects of their own and have chosen to devote their lives to the cause of restoring the environment. We are proud of the great projects we have built with thousands of little and big hands including our first community-built oyster reef out of Point Pinole, the necklace of a dozen rain gardens and bioswales we have planted with neighbors and volunteers along the Richmond Greenway, and the two schools we have led to become Zero Waste in the West Contra Costa County Unified school district.

We are also proud of our partnership with UC Berkeley to restore Stege Marsh over 10 years ago, and the subsequent stewardship we have led for the South Richmond Shoreline. We are proud of the watershed groups that we are able to support every year with our community watershed stewardship grants in partnership with Contra Costa County.

We are proud of all the teachers that even today, years after their training; use our Kids in Creeks, Kids in Marshes and Kids in Gardens curricula. We are proud of the PTAs that help continue our zero waste schools program after our intervention ends. We are proud of all the teachers that continue to partner with us year after year, and have synced their curriculum to ours to make our environmental science education relevant to their students’ learning experiences.

We are proud of the thousands of volunteers that after a creek or shoreline cleanup pledge to reduce their trash footprint and understand the connection of litter to clean oceans. We are proud of our determination to help the most under privileged neighborhoods. We are proud of all the kids and adults that after one of our programs can tell you what a watershed is and why we should protect them. As we approach our 20 year anniversary next year, we are proud to have interacted in a meaningful, transformative and educational way with over 100,000 people that we know feel more connected to their watersheds and are ready to become actors of change to help make this a green and healthy San Francisco Bay Watershed.

Anything else you would like our readers to know?

I want them to know that we all live in a watershed and that the Bay is downstream from all of us. Our actions, starting at our front step, affect our ecosystem. I want them to remember that there is nature under the cement that is so pervasive in our neighborhoods. We all have the power to green our environment, reconnect with nature and restore the natural functions of the land under our feet to keep the Bay and local water ways clean and alive, and in the process we will heal our selves.