By Erin Banks Rusby, Project Manager

Each June, some serious number crunching happens at Grassroots Ecology. It’s the end of our fiscal year, which means that it’s time for our staff to look over all our records from the past 12 months, to see the extent of our collective impact. For example, how many youth did we work with? How many hours of service did our volunteers contribute? How many natives did we plant? 

By the end of our number crunching this year, one number stood out above all others: 11,500. That’s right, we worked with 11,500 individuals of all ages over the past year, a record level for our organization! This is great news--for us, and for the environment! 

And who are all of these people, you ask? Let’s take a moment to celebrate the many different kinds of individuals who made our work possible.

The Los Altos Daisy troop poses for a photo after planting at Redwood Grove. Photo credit Stacey Dixon.

The Los Altos Daisy troop poses for a photo after planting at Redwood Grove. Photo credit Stacey Dixon.

Students- High school students, middle schoolers, elementary school children, community college and university students… Each year, Grassroots Ecology, formerly the Acterra Stewardship program, attracts students of all ages, from a variety of contexts. Individual students may volunteer to earn service hours for school, or out of personal interest. Other students visit our restoration sites as part of their class field trip, where they get to explore ecological phenomena first-hand. There is nothing quite like digging in the dirt and checking out plants and critters to remind us of our place in the greater web of life.

Even more students- This past January, Grassroots Ecology began to deliver watershed and pollution prevention education to schools in Palo Alto, Mountain View, Los Altos, and parts of East Palo Alto. Through this new program, last spring alone we taught 2,300 students in 2nd-7th grades about the water quality treatment process as well as other pollution-related issues in our creeks and the bay. We are thrilled to help empower these students to be more conscious of how they affect the larger ecosystem they live in.

Service-oriented groups- We are fortunate on the San Francisco Peninsula to have a plethora of local organizations dedicated to giving back to the community. Missionaries from the Mormon Church volunteer twice a week alongside regular volunteers at our McClellan Ranch site and weekly at our San Francisquito sites, providing a very significant boost to our restoration efforts. Other regulars include members of the National Honor Society, National Charity League, Young Men’s Service League, and local Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts troops. 

Corporate Groups- Teams from local companies often volunteer as a way to serve the community while bonding with their fellow teammates. Corporate volunteers often comment about how wonderful it is to break out of office mode and collaborate with their coworkers in the fresh air. SAP, Microsoft, Google, and VMWare are just a few of the local corporate groups we welcomed to our restoration sites last year.

Retirees- We think it’s awesome that folks that have retired from their careers go on to lend their precious time to us! These are some of our most avid and committed volunteers.

A warm thank you to all the wonderful individuals and groups doing service and learning with us! We look forward to working with you again in the coming year and beyond.