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!!
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!
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.
This extract from the ED's report tells it all:
During the past year, our Stewardship Program engaged over 6,000 volunteers, the majority young people, in habitat restoration projects up and down the Peninsula. They repaired creek banks, monitored water quality, removed invasive vegetation, installed native plants and trees, and in the process, learned about our native ecosystem and the importance of improving its health.
Our Green@Home program’s skilled volunteers helped hundreds of homeowners and renters make their homes much more energy efficient. Their collective efforts prevented nearly 3 million pounds of CO2 from entering the atmosphere while saving each resident hundreds of dollars and, even more importantly, making them more energy conscious.
In short, Acterra’s programs make a real difference, and it is critical that they do so! Climate change is already upon us, and it is crucial that all of us rapidly adopt environmentally sound behaviors. As a regional organization, we have consciously chosen to play a leadership role addressing climate change right here in Silicon Valley. Our hope is that what we do here will serve as a positive model for people in other regions to emulate.
Acterra came to our home and conducted a home energy audit. They gave us some great suggestions to reduce our energy usage. Inspected and adjusted our refrigerator and furnace settings. They also came armed with goodies such as low flow adapters for the faucets, CFL's and smart power strips. Not only that, they motivated us to do a better job conserving energy which were immediately reflected in lower utility bills. Thank you Acterra.
Acterra is simply not your typical environmental organization. For example, they are the only organization that i know of that completes environmental/ energy efficiency audits of the home. And they really get into it, in measuring shower and sink water flow to determine the shower is efficient or not, (and recommendations for a replacement), measuring electricity use (and if you have incandescents vs LED lighting) for both big stuff and small including vampire loads. Where they helped us the most was with our relatively new fridge/freezer. The setting on the freezer was 2F (an acceptable "efficient" freezer temperature) But when the Acterra volunteer energy auditor measured the freezer it was actually -14F (much colder) - with a laugh, he asked if our ice cream coming out of the freezer was like a rock - it was! Obviously we were also wasting energy keeping stuff much colder than it needed to be. And we would have never found this out without Acterra. And as part of the audit they estimate how much upgrades (incremental or whole house) and work out a payback due to the energy savings. They also hold classes in native plants/ and have youth programs.
Fantastic organization. Their Green@Home home energy audit was fantastic for my family- extremely professional engagement, easy and powerful opportunities for us to reduce our footprint on the earth and save money. We've also done several Acterra community service days at their open space preserves-- these were fantastic opportunities for my kids to learn about our local ecosystem and invasive species.
Founded on the original Earth Day, Acterra has led with innovative local solutions to the toughest environmental challenges for two generations. Its first wave of successes created many of the most successful models of land restoration and sustainable business practices (recycling, EH&S, etc), which have been imported and adapted by many regions across the country. Its new wave of programs is focused on the hardest issue of our time: social engineering at the local level to accomplish rapid, meaningful carbon reductions across broad communities through natural social channels (churches, schools, neighborhoods, workplaces) and behavioral models (peer support, pressure, incremental commitment, etc). Its Green@Home, ActerraGreen, and related educational programs have proven their effectiveness and cost-effectiveness and are now being ramped up by many of the cities and organizations in the Bay Area!
I participated in ACTerraGreen, Acterra's program for community efforts to fight Global Warming. The program was innovative and heard the voices of our school community. It felt fantastic to connect with others in trying to change our habits, and see the collective impact we could have on the planet. In an era of increasing "doomsday" messages where our children face the grim reality, this feeling of empowerment and action at the community level was amazing.
Acterra organized Palo Alto's Solar Homes Tour and did an excellent job with the event. They are closely integrated with our community with many programs to improve our local environment. I appreciate their focus on education.
Great values, great people, great work, big impact on environmental issues in the community. I like their focus on engaging small groups of people to bring about community wide change