The Silicon Valley Voice

Power To Your Voice

Environmental Volunteers Focuses on South Bay Growth

Environmental Volunteers (EV) has inspired Bay Area children to cherish and preserve the natural environment since 1972. Now, the Palo Alto-based nonprofit is expanding its volunteer base and outreach in the South Bay, where it has an office in Santa Clara.

“I’m thrilled and honored to help expand our work in the South Bay,” said Executive Director Elliott Wright. “Our volunteers are excited, too, because they are out on the trails and in classrooms everyday — inspiring wonder, cultivating science skills, leading restoration efforts and educating for action.”

Sunnyvale resident Joan Coston just received a patch for 45 years of volunteer service with EV. The 80-year-old started when her two kids were in elementary school. She took one of the first training classes.


Coston recently taught with volunteer teams at Cumberland and Bishop Elementary Schools in Sunnyvale and Briarwood in Santa Clara, giving presentations on early California Native Americans. Small groups of students rotated from one hands-on learning station to another, exploring different topics.

“The programs change to meet the needs of the schools, and I’ve had to learn new stuff, which keeps you interested,” said Coston.

“Interacting with kids and letting them see a new view of the world is so satisfying,” she continued. “It’s the view that all living things have value — even dandelions interact and support the whole scheme of life.”

“Volunteering with Environmental Volunteers is worthwhile, and besides, it’s fun,” said Coston. “I also value friendships with other volunteers and the staff — the community of friends that I came to have.”

EV ( was founded by a group of women concerned about threats to the San Francisco Bay eco-system. Last year alone EV reached more than 8,000 youth through more than 400 programs across 50 schools. It hosted 112 field trips.

“This amazing community has inspired a love of science and nature for more than 47 years,” said Wright. “Our expansion means that we will be offering thousands of students in Santa Clara county the chance to connect directly with nature.”

EV’s restored Nautical Moderne-style EcoCenter in Palo Alto sponsors community programs and provides a venue for nature activities to homeschools, organizations such as the YMCA of East Palo Alto and corporate groups.

A variety of volunteer opportunities are available, including for those who work or attend college, such as Santa Clara University teaching interns.

“Nature is fun, everywhere and for everyone,” said Wright. “All people — age zero to 100 — deserve nature and the outdoors. It’s a right, like clean air or clean water, and kids should be first in line.

“What kids learn in these experiences — what they remember and hold in their heart — will stay with them for the rest of their lives.”

A School Programs Volunteer orientation is Jan. 23 in Santa Clara.

Walks such as the King Tide Walk on Jan. 11 and an informational “Wake Up to Nature” breakfast at Campbell Community Center on March 4 introduce adults to nature.


1 Comment
  1. Don McDougall 4 years ago

    Thanks for the great article on a very worthy organization. Kids really do benefit from any and all nature exposure and education.

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