2013 Marian Penn Partnership Award
Return of the Natives Education Restoration Project
CSUMB Faculty Honorees: Professors; Laura Lee Lienk, Daniel Shapiro, & Suzanne Worchester
Return of the Natives Restoration Education Project (RON) is a community based habitat restoration group dedicated to “bringing people to nature and nature to people through hands-on participation restoring habitats”. For the last eighteen years RON has partnered with several Service Learning faculty from the Department of Science & Environmental Policy. Courses such as; Laura Lee Lienk’s ENVS 369S Community Based Watershed Restoration, Daniel Shapiro’s ENVS 384S Social & Ecological Justice & Suzanne Worchester’s ENVS 349S Natural History Interpretation.
Over the years, Service Learning students and many volunteers have been introduced to Monterey County’s awesome natural areas and exciting recreational opportunities while learning about social justice and equity issues associated with access to parks and open spaces. They find that serving with RON and having a unique outdoor experience brings satisfaction and they can see what a significant difference it makes to communities (both human and natural) to be involved in environmental stewardship.
Along with participating schools in the Monterey Peninsula and Salinas City School Districts, RON collaborates with The Monterey Regional Waste Management District, Monterey County Office of Education, HOPE Services, California State Parks, the City of Salinas, Bureau of Land Management and Gateway Centers. Return of the Natives continues to open nature’s doors to marginalized communities and “nature lovers” alike, by building community through service and encouraging everyone to “connect” with nature.