Simple Moments, Lifelong Activism: Welcoming Nicole Schmidt to our Education Team

I​ ​am​ excited​ ​to​ ​introduce​ ​myself​ ​as​ ​the​ ​new​ ​Restoration​ ​Education​ ​Specialist​ ​for Save​ ​The​ ​Bay.​ ​I​ ​am​ ​very​ ​grateful​ ​to​ ​be​ ​a​ ​part​ ​of​ ​a​ ​passionate​ ​and​ ​talented​ ​team​ ​dedicated​ ​to the​ ​protection​ ​and​ ​restoration​ ​of​ ​the​ ​tidal​ ​marsh​ ​wetlands​ ​of​ ​the​ ​San​ ​Francisco​ ​Bay.

Studying Environmental​ ​Studies​ ​and​ ​Sociology​ was certainly part of the reason I became an environmental​ ​educator​ ​and environmental​ ​justice​ ​activist. My main source of inspiration? Reading​ ​​Last Child​ ​in​ ​the​ ​Woods​ ​by​ ​Richard​ ​Louv​​ ​​. In​ ​his​ ​thought​-provoking​ ​book,​ ​Louv​ ​connects​ ​the​ ​rising​ trends​ ​of childhood ​obesity,​ ​depression​ ​and​ ​attention​ ​disorders​ ​to​ ​a​ ​decrease​ ​in​ ​spending​ ​time outside. I​ ​want​ ​to​ ​inspire​ ​people​ ​of​ ​all​ ​ages​ ​to​ ​unplug,​ ​at​ ​least​ ​for​ ​a​ ​bit​ ​each​ ​day. I want to encourage them to ​slow​ ​down,​ ​be present​, ​and​ ​explore​ ​the outdoors ​with​ ​friends,​ ​family​ ​and​ ​the​ ​surrounding​ ​critters.

I​ ​am​ ​coming​ ​to​ ​Save​ ​The​ ​Bay​ ​with​ ​over​ ​7​ ​years​ ​of​ ​experience​ ​working​ ​as​ ​an environmental​ ​educator​ ​with​ ​people​ ​of​ ​all​ ​ages​ ​and​ ​backgrounds.​ ​I​ ​have​ ​experience​ ​working with​ ​marine​ ​invertebrates,​ ​teaching​ ​about​ ​marine​ ​ecology​ ​and​ ​inspiring​ ​an​ ​ocean​ ​conservation ethic.​ ​I​ ​also​ ​worked​ ​as​ ​a​ ​Naturalist​ ​teaching​ ​lessons​ ​about​ ​sustainability, ecology,​ ​organic gardening,​ ​alternative​ ​forms​ ​of​ ​energy,​ ​and​ ​natural​ ​history​ ​through​ ​experiential​ ​lessons​ ​hiking​ ​in the​ ​Santa​ ​Cruz​ ​Mountains.​

For​ ​the​ ​past​ ​two​ ​years,​ ​I​ ​had​ ​the​ ​incredible​ ​opportunity​ ​to​ ​work​ ​with Education​ ​Outside​ ​as​ ​the​ ​instructor​ ​at​ ​Cleveland​ ​Elementary​ ​in​ ​San​ ​Francisco.​ ​I​ ​managed​ ​the school​ ​garden​, as well as​ ​sustainability​ ​programs​ ​on campus ​and throughout the ​community.​  My​ ​favorite​ ​moments​ ​as​ ​an educator​ ​in​ ​these​ ​roles​ ​were​ ​when​ ​students​ ​found​ ​something​ ​that​ ​interested​ ​them,​ ​slowed down,​ ​observed,​ ​asked​ ​questions,​ ​and​ ​remained​ ​in​ ​awe.​ ​They​ ​were​ ​completely​ ​present.​ ​Not worried​ ​about​ ​anything.​ ​Simply​ ​inspired​ ​by​ ​the​ ​beauty​ ​and​ ​wonder​ ​of​ ​nature -​ ​whether​ ​staring at​ ​the ocean,​ ​standing in a redwood​ ​forest,​ or spotting a small​ ​plant​ ​growing​ ​in​ ​the​ ​cracks of a sidewalk.​ ​These are precisely the moments that ​inspire​ ​people​ ​of​ ​all​ ​ages​ ​to become​ ​environmental​ ​stewards.

I​ ​am​ ​so​ ​excited​ ​to​ ​bring​ ​my passion​ ​as​ ​an​ ​educator​ ​to Save​ ​The​ ​Bay.​ ​I​ ​am​ ​looking​ ​forward​ ​to​ ​leading​ education,​ ​public​ ​and​ ​corporate​ ​Restoration Programs​ ​at​ ​our​ ​sites​ ​and​ ​engaging​ ​folks​ ​in​ ​hands​-​on​ ​restoration​ ​work.​ ​I​ ​will​ ​also​ ​be​ ​working​ ​on updating​ ​Save​ ​The​ ​Bay’s​ ​curriculum​ ​to​ ​include​ ​lessons​ ​and​ ​activities​ ​aligned​ ​with​ ​Next​ ​Generation Science​ ​Standards​ ​for​ ​each​ ​grade​ ​level.​ ​I​ ​am​ thrilled that I’ll get to ​develop Climate​ ​Change curriculum​ ​for​ ​middle​ ​and​ ​high​ ​school​ ​students.

How​ ​lucky​ ​are​ ​we​ ​to​ ​live​ ​in​ a​ ​breathtaking urban​ ​area​ that’s so close to ​vibrant wildlife habitats​?​ ​I​ ​am​ ​looking​ ​forward​ ​to​ ​working​ ​on​ ​the​ ​restoration​ ​of​ ​our​ ​tidal​ ​marshes.​ ​I encourage​ ​everyone​ ​to​ ​come​ ​and​ ​volunteer​ ​at​ ​one​ ​of​ ​our​ ​​volunteer​ ​events​​ ​and ​help​ ​the​ ​Bay​ ​Area remain​ ​ecologically​ ​diverse​ ​and​ ​resilient!

See​ ​you​ ​in​ ​the​ ​marsh!

Brunch by the Bay: The NextGen of Bay Stewards

Brunch by the Bay Speakers
Brunch by the Bay Speakers

 

One of the most enjoyable events I get to run in my role is Save The Bay’s Brunch by the Bay. On Saturday, August 19th we hosted more than 60 guests, including many founding members, at the Berkeley Yacht Club to commemorate the organization’s founding and discuss our plans for the future.  We look forward to this event every year as a way to honor the organization’s deep roots and remind ourselves that our founders accomplished “impossible” things against all odds.  Sylvia, Kay, and Esther were three women living in a world dominated by men in the 1950s and 1960s. Their world had no environmental protection laws, and they successfully banded together for the good of the Bay and the communities that call it home.

I have spent my entire adult life and the majority of my decade long career standing up for women’s rights. When I learned about the founding of Save The Bay and the three fearless women who started a revolutionary movement to prevent Bay fill, I immediately wanted to join the cause. I enjoy working for Save The Bay because of our inspiring founding story, my Bay Area roots, and most importantly so I can teach my 18 month old daughter the importance of fighting climate change through proactive and nature-based solutions.

A commonly held goal amongst parents is to make the world better for our children and generations to come. This sentiment was echoed at the Founder’s Brunch by Allison Chan, our Bay Smart Communities Manager, who is making real strides on behalf of Save The Bay to help the Bay Area reach zero trash by 2022. One thing that drives Allison is the hope that her baby girl will grow up in a cleaner and healthier environment. Our other speaker, Kenneth Rangel, spoke about his work on the habitat restoration team and how some of the students he takes to the shoreline have never seen the Bay despite growing up just a few miles away. Thanks to Kenneth and his fellow restoration colleagues, Save The Bay leads over 5,000 volunteers to restore the shoreline every year.

Brunch By The Bay 2017

We must honor the unprecedented victories of our founders and continue to protect, preserve, and restore our beautiful Bay, which is at the heart of our Bay Area community. By joining the Save The Bay Legacy Society, you can support this vision! Your legacy can be to leave this beautiful community stronger and more resilient for those who come after us.  I am so moved that Save The Bay has received almost a quarter of a million dollars in legacy bequest gifts this year.  This unexpected funding allows us to hire and retain staff, like Kenneth and Allison, and equip them to engage more volunteers and advocates.

In the spirit of legacy, I encourage you to join us as a member of Save The Bay’s Legacy Society. We are so passionate about our Legacy Society that we’re offering a special, one-time opportunity to receive a beautiful framed photo of San Francisco Bay if you let us know that we are a part of your estate plans.  To learn more about legacy giving and receive your Bay photo, please contact me at kreitter@savesfbay.org or 510-463-6837.

I continue to be inspired by the stories of our founding members—how the Bay was in a dire state before Save The Bay was formed and how our founders’ tenacity and grit helped to transform it. I am grateful to our founding members for making the Bay Area a better place for me, and I am committed to doing the same for my daughter. Thank you for standing with us.

 

Why I Will March 

I will participate in the Women's March in Oakland on Saturday, Jan. 21 not just for Save The Bay, but for all of my values and all of the communities that I hold dear.
I will participate in the Women’s March in Oakland on Saturday, Jan. 21 not just for Save The Bay, but for all of my values and all of the communities that I hold dear.

I distinctly remember my first protest march.  My school’s soccer team was supposed to play the Columbine soccer team the day of the now-infamous mass shooting.  The NRA’s annual convention was slated to be held in downtown Denver days after the shooting took place.  They did not cancel their convention out of respect for the victims, as many had hoped they would.

So, we marched.  We circled their hotel, holding hands, singing songs, and crying.  I was 17 years old.

My next protest march took place in downtown Boston.  Under the leadership of George W. Bush, the U.S. had just invaded Iraq.  As a graduating senior with a degree in modern political history, I was bursting with ideas and passion.  After all, I had just learned how world wars were started – power games between state and non-state actors, alliances, domino effects.  My friends and I were convinced the invasion was a mistake, and while we didn’t know it at the time, we would end up being right.

So, we marched.

A year or so later, now freshly ensconced in the progressive Bay Area, a friend asked if I wanted to join something called the March for Women’s Lives in Washington, D.C.  Women’s equality, fair pay, and reproductive freedom have always been cornerstone values for me, and I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to join with thousands of others in celebrating and advancing them.  And so, ignoring the hordes of anti-choice protesters holding graphic signs, we marched.  That march changed my life and led me to work professionally on women’s reproductive health issues for nearly a decade.

 you cannot isolate reproductive freedom from environmental justice, racial inequity from economic achievement, or education from poverty.” 

 

Now it is 2017, and I am no longer a fresh-faced teenager or an idealistic college student.  I’m a mother, a wife, and a leader at a respected environmental organization.  I am much more aware of my privilege, which has influenced in uncountable ways the opportunities I have been given and successes I have achieved.  I am acutely attuned to the connectivity of privilege, and how you cannot isolate reproductive freedom from environmental justice, racial inequity from economic achievement, or education from poverty.  These issues are inextricably linked – to march for one value means marching for them all.

And so, this Saturday, Jan. 21, I will march in Oakland, this time joined by my husband and our two-year-old son.  I will march for women’s reproductive justice and equality. I will march because Black Lives Matter, and I cannot escape nor deny my own white privilege or that of my son’s. I will march against climate change deniers because facts are facts, and in the coastal Bay Area we are on the front lines of this battle.  I will march for peace around the world and in the streets of Oakland, the city I now call home. I will march for my friends and family members who don’t conform to typical gender roles and should have the same freedom to follow their hearts and love who they love.  I will march for immigrants because less than two generations ago it was my grandmother on the boat far from her home seeking a better life.

I will represent Save The Bay at this march, but not just Save The Bay.  When I march on Saturday, I will be marching for all of my values and all of the communities that I hold dear.

I hope you will march with me.

Staff Planting Day 2015!

oro loma group
At 9am Tuesday morning, Save The Bay’s staff gathered at the entrance of the Oro Loma Sanitary District, ready to get to work outside. It was a day past Fellows and I have anticipated as a fun disruption of our usual indoor routines, and anyone would agree that if Bay Savers aren’t channeling their focus, good humor and determination into computers at the office, they’re going to channel those qualities onto the field, especially with trowels.

oro loma flags

Before diving in, the Habitat Restoration team guided us through the Oro Loma Horizontal Levee Project and its context of sea level rise and restoration efforts in San Francisco Bay. After our nursery manager Jessie’s brief tour of the nursery beds where she’s growing the 70,000 seedlings to be planted on the site, Habitat Restoration Director Donna provided a brief overview of the experimental levee and its innovative approach to sustainable bayshore infrastructure and improving water quality. In collaboration with UC Berkeley (include list of other partners here), Oro Loma Sanitary District will provide research that would demonstrate how this ecotone project would effectively interact with treated wastewater and continue re-establishing the Bay’s habitat in the future.

With that in mind, our planting crew joined the rest of the Habitat Restoration team, put on our gloves, and patted in at least seven different species on deck (while their names escape me now, they were gratefully color-coded in white, red, pink, light blue, dark blue, purple, light green, and dark green). Between digging, I couldn’t help but take in the unique space–a wastewater management facility and active construction site around us–and was amazed at what an unconventional venue like this this would provide for a manmade basin. How will this site look in a few years once the levee is completely planted and thriving? I’m usually a very patient person, but I am pretty excited to see Oro Loma’s transformative results.

oro loma planting

After four hours out in the field, the Save The Bay staff put in 2,260 plants–a full cell of the levee! How did a few of us cool off afterward? By going over to Alameda Memorial State Beach and taking a celebratory dip the Bay! 

Are you interested in contributing to a unique restoration project along the Bay shoreline? Save The Bay will be hosting one more volunteer planting workday at Oro Loma, on December 12. Volunteer with us!

Office Volunteer Roundup

Since launching our office volunteer program in 2012, Save The Bay has benefited tremendously from the professional support of a diverse group of talented volunteers from all walks of Bay life. Our volunteers conduct policy research, write marketing materials, help us connect with donors, and get down and dirty with our habitat restoration crew. They’ve also contributed some of our most memorable blog posts–here are just a few of their stories.

The Value of Native Plants by Caty Varian

Native plants evolved to live with the local climate, soil types, and wildlife and are crucial to establishing and maintaining a healthy San Francisco Bay. Save The Bay’s on-the-ground wetland restoration projects aim to re-establish native plants in the transition zone, creating important buffer areas adjacent to tidal marshes.

Big Oil in Our Backyard by Daniel AdelSaveHealthyBenicia2

A former state capital, not to mention an early contender for Metropolis of the West, Benicia, a sleepy town just shy of 27,000 people, remains hidden from public imagination. Visitors describe the city as quaint and picturesque – a vision that runs counter to the reality that the eastern end of the city fronting Suisun Bay is the site of heavy industry.

What A Waste: Trash and Your Taxes by Maura Mooney CityTrashCost_MauraBlog

Why spend the time and the money removing trash from the environment when we can prevent it from entering in the first place? Save The Bay has worked closely on source control campaigns in the past for some of the most persistent and pervasive trash items: plastic bags and styrofoam containers. We are now turning our attention to a new trash source, the biggest and baddest in the bay area: cigarette butts.

A History of Bay Area Water Usage by Rochelle ReuterOhlone_image

The population of the San Francisco Bay Area has changed dramatically since the Ohlone first settled along the shores of our beloved estuary. During the Gold Rush, San Francisco grew from a small settlement of 200 residents to a booming city of 36,000 residents in just 6 years.

Trash Dumps and the History of the Bay Shoreline by Maya Wolf

Click on the image above to go to an interactive map

Before there were dumps and dump parties, there were wetlands, home to a thriving habitat of flora and fauna. Decades of rampant filling in of shallow areas destroyed 90 percent of San Francisco Bay’s wetlands. Scientists say the Bay needs 100,000 acres of tidal marsh to thrive, more than double that which exists today.

Interested in helping us in the near future? We are always looking for motivated volunteers to help out.