July Shared Plate Recipient – Habitat Stewardship Project Monterey Bay

The Habitat Stewardship Project Monterey Bay (HSP) may be known to many UUCMP congregants by our former name, Return of the Natives Restoration Education Project. Changing our name in January 2023 was the only part of our work that is different since our founding in 1994.

Our mission is to “bring people closer to nature and nature closer to people through hands-on experiences in habitat restoration and environmental education.” HSP is a community- and school-based environmental educational component of CSUMB’s Environmental Studies program involving students (Kindergarten through University) in stewardship and habitat restoration projects on public lands, in the schoolyard and in the community.

HSP has been part of CSUMB since 1995, and HSP staff have taught CSUMB classes and mentored CSUMB students since the founding of the University. CSUMB’s diverse student assistants and service learners are at the heart of each of HSP’s programs and partnerships. HSP’s activities include enriching field trips to the ocean and local rivers, school-based native plant gardens, greenhouses, as well as largescale habitat restoration and native plant landscaping projects creating wildlife habitat, parks and open spaces in the Monterey Bay area. Restoring damaged ecosystems through planting native plants is the context of the HSP’s work. These native plants feed native animals including thousands of pollinator species, protect streamside habitats from erosion, remove toxins from soils and water, and sequester carbon underground.

Paramount to HSP’s conservation program is a commitment to serve marginalized, low-income populations in the region, especially children, who have limited access to nature, parks and open spaces. Annually, HSP involves 75-80 CSUMB student leaders as service learners or HSP student assistants; approximately 5,000 K-12 students in multiple field stewardship events; and 800+ adult and community volunteers in weekend activities. Every year HSP children, students, and members of the public plant native plants on public lands sites; grow 20,000+ native plants in our campus greenhouses; and lead a differently-abled adult volunteer program and other volunteer groups.

HSP staff is comprised of three permanent staff members, an AmeriCorps VIP, and 8-12 student assistants. UUCMP financial donations would be used specifically to support the living allowance of our 11 month AmeriCorps VIP member.

Please donate generously to this worthy organization.