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 exper... more
ACTERRA: Action for a Healthy Planet Reviews
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.
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!!
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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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I joined Acterra relatively recently but have been very impressed with the dedication of the staff, volunteers, members and supporters of the organization.
For many years I have had the pleasure of working with Acterra, mostly as a volunteer pulling non-native plants and replanting with natives. Their organizational skills and environmental knowledge are impressive and make me feel my volunteer hours are very well spent. I also contribute in order to support Acterra's political and educational programs such as home energy audits and bans on plastic bags. We are lucky to have such an effective local organization that makes it so easy to participate.
Acterra is an amazing organization working to protect and restore the environment in the bay area. I have worked with them many times and every experience is a joy with volunteers and students. Their commitment and quality of service is testament to their dedication to environmental stewardship and is a critical asset for those living in the bay area. I cannot praise them more highly!
I am a high school science teacher and this will be the third year I've worked with Acterra to bring real, local science to my students. We have worked with the awesome folks at Acterra both in the field and in our classroom for at least a week each year having students sort and analyze data from local creeks. Students have contributed to real, useful research and found relevance to our ecology unit in both freshmen Biology and AP Environmental Science.
Acterra is one of the greatest Bay Area nonprofits I've had the opportunity to work with. The staff, especially the coordinators of the Green@Home program, are knowledgeable, kind, and helpful with every resident and client they interact with. The municipality I used to work with had a contract with Acterra, and their staff were always willing to go the extra mile to attend our events and work with our residents. Thanks to Acterra, I now have a much better understanding of the small easy actions I can take to save energy in my home, and better yet, I know how to spread the word in a productive, encouraging way. In my opinion, that is the most important aspect of the Green@home program-- increasing awareness about climate change and the small efforts we can make in our own homes to reduce our carbon footprints.
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Acterra is one of the few organizations I know that is helping Palo Alto residents lower their carbon and energy footprint by being the resource that comes to your home and educations and makes recommendations for doing so. They are local and providing very specific services, rather than being all things to all people. They are also pulling non native plants from our beloved preserves. I've had a chance to work with them on this project. I appreciate the good work they do. One of their former directors helped me try to get a stop car idling project off the ground. She donated her precious time to my cause. That was tremendous.
This is what I know about the organization.
Acterra has been an invaluable resource for our high school:
Acterra has helped students at our high school get involved in all sorts of community service.
Acterra members have also helped lead field trips and taught students natural history and about environmental concerns.
They have recommended native plants that we used for campus landscaping.
One year Acterra volunteers trained all of our students to do home energy audits.
Acterra has helped with curriculum resources and other advice. They are a wonderful asset to the community.
Acterra is involved in several communities using many volunteers to do restoration in creeks and one for our town removing invasive weeds in and open space grassland. they're using students, church groups, and industry volunteers. They have pulled many cubic yards of obnoxious thorny weeds from an open space area which the nature conservancy help the town acquire long ago. this will allow native grasses and perennials to reappear. They are very responsible in reporting to the city exactly what they are doing, I am impressed.
Acterra has many activities and tasks for improving the environment and promoting sustainability. The program that I like best is their green@home program. In this program Acterra sends trained volunteers to a house at the owner's request to perform a whole house energy audit. Then the volunteers suggests techniques, technology and lifestyle changes that can reduce the overall energy consumption of the household. So far thousands of such house calls have been made. It not only saves the owner of the house money by making those suggested changes but reduces the amount of greenhouse gases emitted. This is truly a program that works and makes a difference and to top it all it is completely free.