Friday, January 16, 2009

Gore-tex, Gardening Gloves, and Good Partnerships

by Jocelyn Gretz, Community Programs Manager

My job is to recruit and coordinate details for approximately 5,000 participants for Save The Bay’s programs each year. I love getting people out on the Bay, but every winter I run into the same conundrum—the seasonal rains make it the perfect time for us to plant, but they are also a deterrent for many groups to sign up for projects. The solution: the Gore-tex clad outdoor industry.

After a successful Earth Day project with The North Face last year, I connected with ConservationNEXT—the outreach arm of The Conservation Alliance, a group of outdoor businesses whose collective contributions support conservation organizations and their efforts to protect wild places. They wanted a local environmental service project where their member companies could volunteer, learn about the Alliance and celebrate their service to the earth. Enter Save The Bay.

The first "Backyard Collective" service project was held in partnership with Save The Bay on Friday, January 9 at the Martin Luther King Jr. Shoreline Park in Oakland. A thick morning fog soon lifted to blue skies and temperatures in the 50s, a perfect clear winter day for our project. Over 80 volunteers from seven Bay Area outdoor companies—The North Face, Mountain Hardwear, CamelBak, Clif Bar, REI, Ahnu Footwear, and Wilderness Press—learned about the importance of wetlands as they improved habitat. In one day, this inexhaustible group accomplished the following:

-->Nearly 800 native seedlings planted
-->Over 100 pounds of trash collected
-->Almost 250 hours of service—equal to one person working full time for six weeks!

Our Community-based Restoration Program relies upon the community, and that extends to Bay Area businesses. We need a continual flow of volunteer groups and individuals to help us restore our "backyard" wetlands all around the Bay. In return, we provide a fun, team-building and educational experience at a beautiful shoreline parks.

Whether you'd like to be a winter planter, a weed warrior in the spring and summer, or transplant seedlings in the fall, I encourage you to join us out on the Bay. Contact me to set up a project for your community group or employee team or sign yourself up for one of our public events.

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