Our secret recipe for inspiring a love of science and nature

December 21, 2019
Warm Wishes from the staff and board at Environmental Volunteers. May you and your family enjoy the wonders of Nature and the California winter nearby and far away.

Dear Friends of the EV

Just a few days ago, I had the chance to speak with a large audience of our Volunteers at our annual Holiday Party.  For more than 48 years, everyone has come together with family and friends to celebrate the impact of another big year of outreach to our schools.  I was astonished and amazed by the energy in the room.

Of course, I was also thinking about the food. 

Our potluck, like every year, was another immaculate display of delicious food; truly a visual manifestation of the unique and varied contributions of our group.  So many recipes, sweet and savory!  Our potlucks seem to signify something related to the secret recipe of the EV… 

To confirm my hypothesis, I had a conversation with a few Volunteers about the secret recipe of the EV.  In particular, I wanted to learn which part of the recipe came first, second, and third: Purpose, Impact, or Belonging.  I decided to ask some of the Volunteers:

What is most important?

One gentleman suggested, “Purpose comes first. Without knowing the mission, a group cannot orient in the same direction.” Fair enough.

A woman shared, “Belonging is the first priority. If someone feels they don’t belong in the group, they’re not going to achieve and contribute to the group.” Fair enough.

Another woman shared that she was in it for the impact because, “Impact aligns values, purpose, and belonging to each member of the group.” Fair enough.

There is no absolute “right” answer to the question, but I have learned that highly-effective groups like the EV follow similar paths. Here’s the lesson I have learned from the EV community:

            You belong here.

            We share a common purpose and impact.

            Together, we can achieve extraordinary results.

Creating a sense of belonging at EV for volunteers, teachers, and students across widely diverse backgrounds is an aspirational goal—one we do our best to always meet. The many opportunities our EV offers, however, for Volunteers to discover new skills and appetites and to join others with shared interests is a great place to start.

From collaborative work on a new kit to the graduation of a new group of Volunteers; from students testing water quality here in the Baylands—to our education team reaching dozens of new Volunteers with a refreshed training; from field trips to special events at the EcoCenter —to the expansion of our mission through a new college-aged volunteer program called Sprout Up, we hope to craft a deep sense of belonging.

Achieving the ambitious aims of the EV also requires the important ingredient of philanthropic support. We count on many hundreds of gifts to the Annual Fund each year from our board, donors, foundations, corporations, past parents, grandparents, and many, many friends of the EV. I hope you will consider a gift to our Annual Fund to celebrate and honor the power of belonging at Environmental Volunteers.

Your gift will be doubled by the Morgan Family Foundation. 

Thank you.

And very best wishes for the coming holidays. 

Elliott Wright

The Robert Brownlee Award for Outstanding Volunteer Service recognizes outstanding volunteer service to the EVs that impact the youth in our community directly or strongly facilitates the organization’s ability to impact the youth in our community.

2019 Brownlee Award Winners and a Tiny Love Story

Alison Takata and Joyce Rice were presented with this year’s award at the holiday party. They have each contributed to the mission of the EV in significant ways.

Alison has been a School Program Volunteer since the 90s, teaching thousands of kids about science and nature. She is vital in helping us fill last-minute slots for classroom programs and field trips. On top of her regular volunteer shifts, Alison gives her time to teach new volunteers, allowing even more kids to learn about nature!

Joyce has been an EcoCenter Docent for three years, using her friendly personality to welcome people to the nature center and teach them about the local environment. We also have benefited from her sewing skills through the creation of the earthquake bags and mystery animal cover. Her support in creating quality materials for our programs is indispensable!

Thank you, Joyce and Alison, for your amazing contribution to our community!

EV Tiny Love Story (100 Words)

View across the Baylands. Snowy egrets. Pickleweed. Bird feathers, nests, and eggs with a young visitor who translates into Spanish for his grandparents. Everything about red-tailed hawks from home-schooler Isaac. Elliott rescue when I locked Susan out. Networking with EVs as we refresh school kits. Silicon Valley techies guessing the weight of creatures compared to pantry items. Streamline moderne architecture at a memorial service for a former Sea Scout. Imagining second-graders about to pull my cover off the barn owl. It all began with Brittany, “Joyce, if they don’t get it by answering your questions, it is okay to tell.”

Joyce Rice, December 15, 2019

The Robert Brownlee Foundation provided a 20-year annuity to the EV, to establish The Robert Brownlee Award for Outstanding Volunteer Service in 2008. The Robert Brownlee Foundation was a private family foundation that supported, with grants, K–12 science. The Brownlee Foundation was founded by Robert Brownlee, a chemist who was instrumental in the advancement and design of High-Performance Liquid Chromatography systems.