Saving The Bay with Local Companies: Why a Former Staffer Got us Outdoors with Autodesk

Seth goes fishing off the coast of Marin County

“I’ve always had a love of nature, but my work at Save The Bay introduced me to the wonder of wetlands, which were off my radar before.”

A native of Marin County, Seth Chanin grew up just a block away from San Francisco Bay. As a kid, this former Save The Bay staffer spent weekends roaming the beach, kayaking the Bay, and biking rugged hillsides.  As an adult? Nothing’s changed for Seth. “Water really is a place of reflection, of solace for me.”

It’s why Seth spent his college years studying Environmental Science and Economics, the ideal combo for a self-described “business hippie.” Yet, Seth says it was his former role as Save The Bay’s Habitat Restoration Program Manager that inspired him to “always look at the landscape through ecologist’s glasses – understanding that we have increasing human populations, increasing demands on the land, and new challenges posed by climate change.”

Now, as Autodesk’s Employee Impact Engagement Manager, he seeks volunteer opportunities for his colleagues that are bound to spark a “high-impact experience.” Seth hopes these volunteer events “will open their eyes to important work being done in their communities, so they come back and do skill-based and pro bono volunteering with organizations like Save The Bay.”

Autodesk employees get outdoors to transplant seedlings

He’s convinced non-profits and leading Bay Area companies have much to gain from connecting – when they actually do connect. “There’s a huge need on non-profit side, resources and good intentions on the corporate side, but they’re often like ships passing in the night.”

Yet, Save The Bay and Autodesk recently broke through the barriers, proving these partnerships don’t just spark change – they get people smiling.

Of course, there was plenty of prep involved to share our work fighting threats from climate change. Save The Bay’s Restoration team essentially brought an entire nursery to the Autodesk campus. It meant sterilizing all the soil and pots it would take to transplant 10,000 seedlings.

Somehow, they got it done in time for 200 Autodesk employees to head outdoors last Thursday and help us transplant all 10,000. Their hard work translates to roughly 25% of the plants we’ll install for the year. Save The Bay’s Restoration staff was thrilled to share the science and importance of wetland restoration with so many new faces.

Seth pitches in with a former colleague at Save The Bay, Kristina Watson (photo credit: Ray Mabry)

The event fit right in to Autodesk’s Global Month of Impact and their offices happen to be just 15 minutes from our Bel Marin Keys restoration site where we’re using cutting-edge technology to build up more than 40 acres of wetland habitat.

Better still, Seth says he can already envision some long-term opportunities for both parties. “It’s exciting to expose our employees to something new and get them thinking about the design aspect of ecological restoration – because they make the tools used to design and make just about anything, including the barriers that will help protect Bay Area communities from rising waters.”

Save The Bay, meanwhile, looks forward to even more volunteer partnerships with Bay Area companies. We couldn’t agree more with Seth when he stresses: “it’s an important time to think about what’s happening in our backyard – and to apply our skills right here to solve those problems.”

Solstice on the Shoreline

From the ancient Egyptians to the Ohlone living here in the Bay Area, many cultures experience winter as a powerful time of ritual, reflection, and renewal. The season officially begins Thursday, December 21st – with a solstice! The term translates to “sun stands still,” as the sun appears to pause in its incremental journey across the sky.
All smiles for Solstice on the Shoreline!
Our dedicated volunteer group was all smiles for Solstice on the Shoreline!
Save The Bay decided to mark this changing of the seasons by planting seedlings with some of our most dedicated volunteers and donors. Through their labor and their generosity, this diverse community had already given richly to support our programs. But on last Saturday’s Solstice on the Shoreline event, they dug right into soil to help out even more. Former board members joined avid gardeners and corporate partners to put on gloves, pick up trowels, and protect our Bay.

 

Along the way, Donna Ball and Kenneth Rangel of our Restoration team explained how our staff cleans seeds and sanitizes soil using somewhat simple tools. They made clear these tasks can be both intricate and time-consuming without advanced technology. However, as we build the support necessary to cover this equipment, Save The Bay staffers remain plenty resourceful in their push to create habitat. 
 
Meanwhile, high winds and incredibly hard ground never phased our passionate participants last weekend. Our restoration staff used an auger – a drill bit that can create holes in the ground – to start each of our planting spots. Then, our lively group got to work (sometimes wielding pickaxes!). In the end, we carved a warm bed to lay the young seedlings.
 
Building community to share Save The Bay’s story is a key part of my role as Events & Outreach Manager. I’m thrilled that the events I design and host can genuinely boost the health of San Francisco Bay. Witnessing that “A-ha” moment on a volunteer’s face as they begin to understand their own role in protecting our Bay is incredibly rewarding. After all, my own positive experiences as a student and educator are a major source of inspiration as I work to connect – and expand – Save The Bay’s community.
 
Save The Bay is a resource for learning, scientific exploration, rejuvenation, and above all, making memories.  With the hustle and bustle of the holidays, I encourage you to take a moment to breathe in the Bay air, take a calming walk along its shores and rejuvenate your soul.  We are ready to start building a year’s worth of amazing events and gatherings for 2018. I look forward to seeing you at Blue, our Bay Brunch Cruise on Earth Day (April 22, 2018), and Bay Day, our region-wide celebration for San Francisco Bay, on October 6, 2018.

 

You and your family can also join one of our public programs for free throughout the year. Save The Bay relies on thousands of volunteers annually to make progress on our many wetland restoration projects. Check our calendar often as spaces fill quickly. We can also create dedicated private restoration events for your group or company. Contact Jack Wolfink at jwolflink@savesfbay.org to learn more.

 

A Little Bit of the Bay at Mountain Lake

Save The Bay Presidio Trust Mountain Lake Restoration Volunteer
Our Save The Bay team at one of Presidio Trust’s restoration events at Mountain Lake. Photo by Nissa Kriedler.

This fall, Save The Bay’s Restoration Team had the opportunity to participate in one of the Presidio Trust’s restoration events at Mountain Lake in San Francisco as part of a workday trade. There our team had a chance to learn about freshwater wetlands both through hands-on invasive species removal around Mountain Lake and through a special lecture on wetland soils from UC Berkeley professor Stephen Andrews. In the coming months it will be our Restoration Team’s turn to host the Presidio Trust restoration crew for a day on the Bay, teaching them about salt marshes, and getting them dirty at one of our restoration sites. Rumor has it there may even be a Save The Bay vs. Presidio Trust softball game (I think we all know who would win)! In the end we will all be winners as we learn from one another and strengthen friendships with others working to improve the environment around the San Francisco Bay.

To try and catch the Presidio Trust team out with Save The Bay sign up for one of our restoration events today.

Volunteer Spotlight | Meet Alexander Mustille

alex_mustille_volunteer spotlight
Alex Mustille has been volunteering with Save The Bay for 5 years!

Meet Alexander Mustille, a Data Consultant for Kaiser Permanente from Pacifica, CA!

How many years have you volunteered with Save The Bay?

5 years!

Do you have a favorite site or experience?

Favorite site is MLK Shoreline. I was able to eradicate many blackberry bushes on site 3 or 4 years ago.

How did you get involved with Save The Bay?

I first heard about Save The Bay through a friend, many years ago.

What is the best thing about volunteering with Save The Bay?

Meeting people who are passionate about ecological restoration!

What is your favorite thing about the San Francisco Bay Area?

The beach! Specifically, Linda Mar Beach for surfing. It’s great for beginners!

What is one thing you do each day to protect the environment?

Not watering my lawn! And regularly planting in my front yard.

Volunteer opportunities are available throughout the Bay Area. Sign up here.

A Rewarding Experience

Earlier this month, my fellow restoration specialist and I had the privilege to lead a restoration education program with My City School, a new school in San Francisco created for students with mild to moderate learning disabilities. I was contacted by the school’s coordinator, also a parent and founder, who inspired me with her story of how she sought out a way to provide a better learning experience for her child, as well as other young, challenged students in San Francisco. I was touched by her story and eager to offer My City School students the experience of a wetland restoration program with Save The Bay.

My city school photo
Students from My City School visit our MLK Jr. Shoreline site. From left to right: Will, Dimitri, Bella, Rachelle, and Tommy.

On their Bay Discovery trip at the Martin Luther King Jr. Shoreline, we transplanted gumplant seedlings, went for a “wetland walk” during which we explored the features of wetland ecosystems, and participated in a shoreline trash cleanup. As group leaders, we were able to spend one-on-one time with the students and teach them about the Bay, the wetland ecosystem, and measures we can take to help it thrive. We also watched terns diving for fish and manta rays swimming in the shallows!

All in all, the most memorable part of this experience came at the end of the program, when these students expressed how thankful they were for spending the day with Save The Bay and making the Bay a better place for us all. This event noticeably spurred their passion to protect, restore, and celebrate the San Francisco Bay. I speak for both my coworker and I when I say that this was a truly rewarding experience, and one that highlights the importance of our education programs for students of all varieties.

Learn more about our Restoration Education Programs here.