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ACTERRA: Action for a Healthy Planet

Rating: 4.95 stars   85 reviews 8,332


3921 E Bayshore Rd Palo Alto CA 94303 USA


Acterra brings people together to create local solutions for a healthy planet

Target demographics:

Acterra inspires action to protect our local environment, and the entire planet

Direct beneficiaries per year:

500 individuals learn about environmental issues that face our planet and our region, and solutions that they can take part in to slow climate change and reduce their carbon footprint. We honored 9 organizations throughout the Bay Area for for their unique and important sustainability practices. From their stories, we can educate hundreds of local businesses on how to improve their own sustainability efforts.

Geographic areas served:

Bay Area


The Business Environmental Awards program recognizes and celebrates the accomplishments of businesses with innovative sustainable programs. The program also recognizes leaders in the industry, and provides an educational forum that increases awareness and motivates all companies to adopt sustainable business practices. The Energy and Climate Program helps communities take action to reduce global warming by making their homes more energy efficient. We train volunteers, host energy and climate workshops, and create awareness of sustainable living practices. Our Public Lecture Series provides innovative and motivating lectures that build awareness of emerging environmental issues and solutions from leading thinkers in industry, government and nonprofits. Our new Go EV Program educates the public on how electric vehicles are a key to accelerating the shift from fossil fuels to a renewable energy economy. Acterra provides our constituents with the tools, information, and support they need in order to "Go EV." Program activities include workshops, Ride and Drive Events, and an EV Ambassadors program.

2014 Top-Rated Nonprofit
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Reviews for ACTERRA: Action for a Healthy Planet

Role: Professional with expertise in this field
Rating: 5 stars   Featured Review

Acterra's volunteers are passionate, informed, and fun! I admire the organization's breadth of work, high impact outreach, and ability to talk about environmental issues in a way that is appealing to diverse audiences.

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Thank you very much! We are glad Acterra is able to provide a breadth of environmental work that has considerable reach and impact for a wide variety of audience across SIlicon Valley!

Rating: 5 stars  

In one of the most innovative regions in the world, Acterra is helping to drive the most significant innovations for our shared future. Their Business Environmental Awards shine a light on breakthroughs in sustainability projects and practices in organizations of all sizes. As someone who works in technology, I find the stories and case studies of Acterra award winners as inspiring as any advance in technology. For individuals, Acterra's workshops and education programs provide a clear path for action. Acterra succeeds in creating a community of shared passion and purpose that leads to real change.

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Rating: 5 stars  

I volunteered with Acterra throughout high school and found the staff to be enthusiastic and knowledgable. Our workdays were productive and fun!

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Rating: 5 stars  

Really did a great job on educating high schoolers and making a permanent difference in Arasterdero Regional Park.

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Rating: 5 stars  

Acterra is a truly outstanding organization that models the philosophy of "think globally and act locally." The staff and many volunteers are passionate, engaged and very effective and making things happen. Acterra's agenda encompasses some of the most important issues of the day, including climate change, water conservation and natural resources and habitat. I highly recommend getting involved with Acterra or supporting their work with a donation.

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Rating: 5 stars  

Acterra has been a tremendous asset to the peninsula area. The amount of work that a very small team does with its large set of volunteers for the environment is exceptional.

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Role: General Member of the Public
Rating: 5 stars  

Acterra is a group that truly cares about making a difference in the environment and promoting better community engagement in awareness and protection. From honoring admirable companies' initiatives to group stewardship programs, Acterra is truly working hard to fulfill its mission. Plus its a team of wonderful and dynamic people!

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Role: General Member of the Public
Rating: 5 stars  

Very helpful and have a lot of great information! I spoke to them about energy efficiency and the provided a lot of great resources.

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Thank you! We appreciate your comment and happy to provide our community with resources on energy efficiency!

Rating: 5 stars  

Helped me to learn a lot about California native plants and their impact on the ecosystem! Everyone is very knowledgeable, friendly, and incredibly helpful! Great community service opportunities.

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Rating: 5 stars  

I am an instructor at De Anza College and I have had the pleasure of working with Acterra for many years. Joanne McFarlin, a Senior Ecologist with Acterra, works tirelessly to ensure my students are provided with meaningful and inspiring experiences each year. Joanne leads field trips, teaches my students about stream health and water quality, and provides hands-on restoration experience through volunteer opportunities. She shows students in very tangible ways how an individual can make an impact on the environment through their choices and through community involvement.

Last spring (2014), we expanded our relationship with Acterra when Joanne invited us to partner with them in a restoration project at McClellan Ranch. Students in my class collected baseline data for the project, recording the incidence of invasive species of plants in the meadow at McClellan Ranch. To do this, Joanne and Barbara Banfield (Cupertino's City Naturalist) taught students how to perform point-intersect transects and to identify several species of plants. Honors students in my class compiled the data and wrote a report for Joanne to use in her official report. The data collected last spring will be compared to data collected by students in future classes so that changes in meadow species composition can be quantified as the restoration proceeds. I am extremely grateful to Joanne and Acterra for providing my students with the opportunity to do "real science" and to participate in the restoration of McClellan Ranch. Acterra provides my students with invaluable experiences, and I thank them very much.

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1 previous review
Rating: 5 stars  

I am a teacher at De Anza College and have worked with Acterra, specifically Joanne McFarlin, an Acterra ecologist, for a number of years. Each spring and summer, Joanne puts together an amazing experience for our biology students. She provides hands on experiences that include water quality monitoring, vegetation mapping and analysis, and habitat restoration. She teaches students how important the everyday choices we make are to protecting our environment. She is so passionate about empowering students that they can't help but be changed by the experience. Joanne also serves as an adviser to many students who do their research projects at McClellan Ranch or on Stevens Creek. She responds to their emailed questions, shows them how to use equipment and generally supports their efforts. Her help is one of the reasons students are able to complete research projects they are proud to present.

Our partnership with Acterra was especially rewarding last spring in part because Joanne agreed to meet with many of my students to work on restoring habitat at Blackberry Farm. Students volunteered to spend a Saturday doing this, and I asked for a little write-up about the experience. I was so impressed by what students had to say about the experience. They were emotional! They were passionate! They said they were working together in a community for a common good. It was much different than what I expected them to say about hours of manual labor in the hot sun. To illustrate this, here is an excerpt from one student essay: "The restoration workday at Blackberry Farm was led by Joanne McFarlin of the Acterra Stewardship Program. The organization of Acterra seeks to find ways to inspire and educate the communities in the Bay Area with the mission of creating healthier local environments. After spending the morning weeding out the hedge parsley with other classmates, I saw how meaningful the whole experience was. Not only did we do a nearly clean sweep of the invasive hedge parsley, I also saw a group of people united under the mission of Acterra: to create local solutions in creating a better environment. This experience showed me that it really is feasible to get a group of people together to tackle on some kind of problem, at least at the local level. That is how a movement really starts, after all, is when more and more people learn about a local cause. I really commend the people of Acterra for taking charge and inspiring the people in the Bay Area to be mindful of the environment and, whenever possible, to take matters into their own hands by volunteering or simply making better choices, such as recycling." Couldn't have said it better myself. Thank you Acterra and especially, thank you Joanne!!

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

The experiences I have had with Acterra have all been positive. I do not know of anything that should be changed.

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