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.
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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