Recently I had the pleasure of leading a volunteer event with Annie’s Homegrown, Inc. at our newest restoration site at Eden Landing Ecological Reserve. They showed up bright and early with positive attitudes and festive team shirts that displayed their iconic rabbit label (in case you were wondering, the rabbit’s name is Bernie).
As we drove out to our site through a maze of levees just south of the San Mateo Bridge we stopped to show them relics of the salt ponds that once covered the now ecological reserve and described future plans for the site, which will be open to the public in just a few years.
Once we arrived at our site we quickly got down to business. We worked hard as Willets searched for food in adjacent mud flats and flocks of sandpipers flew overhead in great numbers like a murmuration of Starlings. By the end of the day we were exhausted — and for a good reason. In total Annie’s installed over 100 native plants, including Marsh Baccharis (Baccharis glutinosa), Western Goldenrod (Euthamia occidentalis), and Creeping Wild Rye (Elymus triticoides). I am often impressed by how much gets done during our corporate volunteer programs.
After we cleaned up, we piled into our cars and drove back to the parking lot where we met. We said our thank yous and good byes and parted ways. My colleague and I reflected on the productive day and spoke longingly for next year’s program with Annie’s.
Little did we know we’d be hearing from them again much sooner than that. A little less than a month after our restoration event with them at Eden Landing, Annie’s sent us 2,500 organic granola bars to share with our volunteers! Now during our restoration programs we are proud to share these fantastic snacks made by a company that takes pride in sustainable, quality ingredients and cares as much about community as we do at Save the Bay. Our staff is so grateful for Annie’s contribution.
Are you looking to build your resume while contributing to a thriving San Francisco Bay? Apply to one of the following teams in our OFFICE VOLUNTEER PROGRAM!
Policy- Pollution Prevention
Policy- Bay Fill Prevention
Enthusiasm for Save The Bay’s mission and programs
Availability for 10-12 weeks, 20 hours /week during the fall and winter; 30 hours /week in the summer
Strong writing, research and organizational skills
Completion of at least three years of undergraduate education
Excellent computer skills
Ability to complete tasks independently and work well in a team
Interest in San Francisco Bay environmental issues
Save The Bay’s Communications team works closely with Policy, Habitat Restoration, and Development staff to engage constituents around our key issues. This highly collaborative and creative team is seeking volunteers to help tell the stories of protecting and restoring San Francisco Bay.
Outreach Volunteers work with the Communications team to engage Save The Bay’s volunteers through online communications, data management, and community engagement. This year, over 5,000 adult and youth volunteers will work with Save The Bay to restore over 120 acres of vital Bay habitat. Outreach Volunteers focus on engaging these restoration volunteers through a number of tasks, including utilizing online tools for volunteer appreciation, updating Salesforce database with volunteer data, organizing the photo database, contributing to Save The Bay’s blog, and representing Save The Bay at events.
Social Media focus: Social Media Volunteers work with the Communications team to maintain an active and meaningful presence on our social media channels. Save The Bay uses many social media platforms, including Facebook and Twitter, to engage with our constituents, reporters and other organizations, showcase the expertise of our staff, and drive action on our core programs and policy areas. Social Media Volunteers focus on enhancing our social media communications through a number of tasks, including researching and developing post and tweet content for Facebook and Twitter, tracking account analytics using Sprout Social and Facebook Insights, engaging with fans/followers and cultivating conversation on our social channels , and assisting Communications staff with organizing incoming social media requests and opportunities.
The Development and Grant Writing Volunteers work with Save The Bay’s Development team to support strategic fundraising campaigns targeting corporate, foundation, and individual supporters. As a member of our dynamic team, the volunteers assist with grant writing; conduct grant and donor research; supports donor outreach and communications efforts; advances knowledge of Salesforce and help maintain data; write acknowledgement letters; and perform various administrative duties in support of fundraising campaigns as assigned.
The Habitat Restoration Volunteers work with Save The Bay’s Habitat Restoration Department to help with various field and office work related to our Community-Based Restoration programs. As a member of the largest team at Save The Bay, the Habitat Restoration Volunteers assist in office tasks such as building coordination materials for public and corporate programs; cleaning and weighing seed collections; updating seed inventory; maintaining contact data entry; and other general administrative duties.
In the field, depending on the season, volunteers may help with outplanting at project sites; spring site maintenance including weeding and watering seedlings; seed collection; and plant propagation tasks at STB’s nurseries; including seed sowing, transplanting, divisions, fertilization, culling, and nursery maintenance.
The Environmental Policy Volunteers work as part of Save The Bay’s Policy Department focusing either on our pollution prevention, bay fill prevention and/or restoration finance initiatives. As a member of a small team of enthusiastic and dedicated advocates, the Environmental Policy Volunteers are responsible for conducting research, assisting in implementation of priority projects and providing support for our grassroots and communications objectives.
Pollution prevention focus:
Pollutants flowing from our streets and storm drains threaten water quality in the Bay on daily basis. The Clean Bay Project is our campaign to support innovative and effective pollution prevention programs at the municipal level. By working collaboratively with city and county government and community stakeholders to implement effective policies, we are making dramatic strides to improve the health of our wetlands, Bay shoreline, and local waterways. Learn more about our pollution prevention work.
Bay fill prevention / Restoration funding focus:
Save The Bay’s major Bay Fill Prevention initiative is our campaign to stop Cargill’s plans to fill in as many as two square miles of restorable San Francisco Bay salt ponds in Redwood City with thousands of houses (www.DontPaveMyBay.org). We also monitor numerous development proposals throughout the San Francisco Bay shoreline, taking action to protect the Bay from being filled or otherwise impacted by inappropriate development.
In addition to our Bay Fill Prevention work, one of the major challenges facing the restoration of the Bay shoreline is the lack of local funding to restore shoreline areas already under public ownership. This position works on both of these crucial policy areas, helping Save The Bay reach our goal of establishing 100,000 acres of wetlands around San Francisco Bay.
The first time Gerry Martinez, a 12th-grader at Apollo High School in East San Jose, came out to the Bay shoreline he was surprised by the number of insects and animals he saw. Before he got up close out on the marsh, he thought it was “so empty and dry, it didn’t look like anything lived there.”
It’s common for people to be surprised by the teeming life of the tidal marsh. Birds twitter and fly overhead; lizards skitter around; in the mud, tiny hermit crabs dart and dig. Yet, these signs of life are not visible from the Bay Area’s freeways, which is as close as many people ever get to the Bay.
Another student at Apollo, Magally Leanos, said she was surprised by the “piles and piles of trash” out on the marsh, adding that she “didn’t know the Bay was at risk. From a distance it looks so clean.”
Both Gerry and Magally are participants in Save The Bay’s restoration education programs for schools, which teach ecological stewardship and community leadership, using the Bay as a classroom and laboratory. Both students attend Apollo, which helps at-risk students get back on track. Their history teacher, Nate Bowen, says that the science education they get out on their marsh visit is valuable, but what’s even more valuable is that the students come away from the experience with “a sense that they’re contributing.”
Nate said that for urban students like Gerry and Magally, being out in nature is a new experience. Because the students have come out numerous times, they’ve had the opportunity to engage in different restoration activities including planting, weeding, and picking up trash. Nate says, “It’s neat to see the work we’ve done when we come back to the same spot”. When asked what would keep him coming back on his own, Gerry says it’s both the feeling that he’s “part of the community” and the “sense of pride” he gets from helping out.
The students have helped out in very significant ways. During one particular planting event, they worked with a group of other volunteers to plant 827 native plants; they’ve removed bags and bags of invasive weeds; and they’ve picked up trash. Lots of it.
This certainly restores the shoreline, and it also restores the students. Seeing the Bay up close has changed how the students see their environment and their place in it.
Gerry said that although he expected to find some trash, “I realized trash goes through sewers and it surprised me how much garbage ends up in the Bay.”
“Before I didn’t really think about the Bay,” said Magally. “I used to litter. Now when I see trash, I think about the Bay. I think about how it would look if we didn’t do creek cleanups anywhere. I was not aware before. Now I would like to go and help and teach other kids.”
How many times have you volunteered with Save The Bay?
How did you get involved with Save The Bay?
Encouraged by Solar City, my workplace.
What is the best thing about volunteering with Save The Bay?
It was a great sight to see so many people of different ages and ethnicities coming together to save the environment.
What is your favorite thing about the San Francisco Bay Area?
The beautiful weather and amazing scenery.
What is one thing you do each day to protect the environment?
Recycle and compost as much as possible.
Anything else you want to tell us?
Thank you for providing this amazing service to the community. Many of us want to help preserve our environment but don’t really know how to. Save The Bay makes it so easy and convenient, whether you have experience or not. Thank you for this amazing and gratifying experience.
Volunteer opportunities are available throughout the Bay Area. Sign up here