This month marks my one-year anniversary with Save The Bay as the Restoration Education Specialist. It has been a privilege working on protecting and restoring tidal marshes around the Bay through environmental education, habitat restoration and civic engagement with such a wonderful team. Looking back at this year, I am so proud of our Education Program’s accomplishments! Our education team has been working towards increasing access in our education programs. Many schools lack the funding and resources to participate in field trips, including environmental education programs. The two main barriers that inhibit many schools from joining our field trips are economic and linguistic challenges. Many schools cannot afford to spend money on field trips and transportation. One school bus can cost a school as much as $1,000 per bus! Not only are our field trips free, we also provide funds for bus transportation for schools that otherwise cannot afford it. Our team works hard to provide this opportunity for schools that qualify by engaging in targeted outreach. To address linguistic barriers, the habitat restoration team spends time in each of our meetings to learn and practice Spanish. We strive to communicate with Spanish speaking students and families. Furthermore, our education team has been working to provide Spanish and English in our instructions and on each visual that we use in our education program activities. While teaching, we use scaffolding techniques, such as hand motions and large visuals, to ensure students who are English language learners are able to engage and have fun. I love having students translate for us as it gives them leadership opportunities. We are in the final stages of editing our curriculum binder! This binder contains all of our program descriptions, activities, tricks and tips so that anyone, a volunteer, fellow or new staff member, can successfully lead a Community Based Restoration Education Program. We also have aligned many of our activities to Next Generation Science Standards. These Standards have been a wonderful tool in helping us figure out how to inspire students to become bay stewards and make connections to the bay and their everyday lives. NGSS combines science and engineering practices to encourage students to ask questions, experiment and be curious about the world and the community around them. We tailor our programs to fit each teacher’s learning objectives and educational needs. I am looking forward to this school season and thrilled to try new activities in the field! Come join us in the marsh by signing up for one of our student or volunteer programs!
I know I am not alone in feeling a deep bond to the diverse landscapes of the Bay Area. I was fortunate enough to spend my childhood living in the Bay Area and exploring everywhere from the redwoods and grasslands to the marshes and sand dunes. Those moments have driven me to give back to the land that has given so much to me. I am overjoyed to be joining Save the Bay as its Nursery Specialist. I was introduced to Save the Bay this past summer, when I participated in the fellowship program as the Nursery and Habitat Restoration Fellow. I felt inspired by the three women who started Save the Bay in 1961, and by the resourceful people I worked with on the habitat restoration team, who give their all every day. Luckily, working closely with plants wasn’t new to me. I spent years gardening in several urban farms throughout Berkeley and Oakland. For two years, I managed an educational farm that is part of a summer camp in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada. When I returned from the mountains I had the opportunity to work with the Golden Gate Parks Conservancy as a habitat restoration technician — work that I realized is quite similar to gardening! It was rewarding to get to know the landscapes I grew up with in an entirely new way, through the lenses of the endangered and endemic species whose habitats were threatened by human development. I felt so aligned with habitat restoration work, as it offered a truly reciprocal relationship with the landscape. I also assisted at the Presidio Native Plant Nursery, which grows plants for restoration projects throughout the Presidio Trust. I relished the detail-oriented nature of this work and admired the tiny scale at which nursery initiatives operate. Planting small seeds and watching them sprout is my version of magic, and I feel lucky to facilitate this process every day! Native plant nurseries are essential components of habitat restoration. Since the areas in which we work have been degraded so heavily, the natural balance that allows native plants to grow and flourish in an ecosystem is not yet in place. Nurseries are safe spaces for native plants to become strong before they are planted at a restoration site. As the nursery specialist I am humbled to be able to grow over 30,000 plants a year for our restoration projects in tidal wetlands throughout the Bay Area. This number will continue to grow, as our projects expand in the coming years. With 90% of natural tidal wetlands in the Bay Area lost, habitat restoration is a critical step towards healing tidal wetlands. They serve an irreplaceable role in climate change mitigation, and in protecting them, we protect numerous species, including the endangered Ridgeway’s Rail and Salt Marsh Harvest Mouse that call the Bay Area home. I am especially looking forward to our public nursery programs, where I have the privilege of sharing our fun and rewarding work with all of you!
“There’s an old adage that, around election time, voters behave stupidly. That’s wrong. Voters are treated like they’re stupid. It’s not the same thing.” Mitchell Oster doesn’t mince words. In fact, as Save The Bay’s new Regional Political Organizer, he finds there’s much to be gained by avoiding them altogether. “The most important thing you can give of yourself [as an organizer] is the openness to listen to the other person. An exchange of ideas is how you unlock an unexpected opportunity.” Interestingly, Mitchell made this connection in public schools – not political circles. Save The Bay’s newest Policy staffer spent six years working as a paraprofessional. Mitchell says his experience in a special education setting taught him that “different people come with different gifts. You have to be willing to meet them where they are.”
I moved to the Bay Area almost ten years ago. I was drawn to the region’s stunning beauty, diverse communities, and delicious food. Each year brings special life experiences for my family; we have countless memories of being together by the Bay. The Bay is the heart of my home. It’s why I’ve chosen to set up roots and raise my daughter here. But the Bay doesn’t just connect my family; it connects us all. The Bay defines our geography, bridging the gap between quiet neighborhoods and bustling downtowns. When the pace of city life becomes too frenetic, the Bay offers scenic escapes. It’s integral to our daily lives and vital to our local economy. Because the Bay gives me so much, I do all I can to give back. I work tirelessly with Save The Bay’s policy team to protect the Bay – not just for my family, but for future generations. Your support makes everything we do possible. What’s at stake? Each time it rains, litter, PCBs, pesticides, and other toxins are carried into local creeks and the Bay, threatening Bay wildlife and habitat. However, advocacy work and powerful partnerships helped us score significant wins this year to keep trash out of the Bay. Through a collaboration with Oakland Community Organizations and statewide agencies, we:
- Exposed the environmental consequences of widespread illegal dumping in Oakland
- Pushed City Council members to fund solutions for public health and environmental hazards
- Rallied to support SB 231 (Hertzberg), a pivotal bill that enables cities to raise money for their own water supply and stormwater infrastructure projects
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!
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. 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 firstname.lastname@example.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.
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.
As a Marin County native, I can’t help but appreciate rolling hills, towering redwoods, and vibrant wildflowers. I grew up hiking Mount Tamalpais, and I’ve always loved reaching its peak and looking out at San Francisco Bay. With these memories in mind, I started a full-time job at Save The Bay last summer after graduating college with an Environmental Studies degree. I was excited to find out that Save The Bay had created an official, region-wide holiday dedicated to celebrating San Francisco Bay, its people and wildlife. I was even more thrilled to learn that I would be heavily involved in planning… Bay Day!
“Being a quiet, shy person, I hated swim meets as a kid – found them really nerve-racking. But once I was in the water, I knew exactly what I was doing. I loved it.” Beckie Zisser knows well: she isn’t like most lobbyists. And that’s precisely why Beckie strikes a chord with politicians. “I’m not naturally extroverted, but I always have that drive underneath to compete.” When it comes to water issues, Beckie’s never afraid to enter the ring. In fact, she’s taken on this fight for most of her career. Beckie’s childhood in Seattle shaped much of the story. “I lived at the top of a hill, and you could see water on both sides. There were lakes around me, mountains. Being outside was an extremely important part of my upbringing.”