Friday, January 26, 2024

Feel Good Friday - San Bruno Mountain Watch

In this week’s Feel Good Friday I’m highlighting a local, well local to me, conservation organization, San Bruno Mountain Watch

Headquartered in Brisbane, California, what began in 1971 as the Committee to Save San Bruno Mountain is now San Bruno Mountain Watch. This nonprofit organization “helps the public explore San Bruno Mountain’s history and environment and works with local communities to restore the mountain’s native habitats, cultivate its flora at the Mission Blue Nursery, and protect its open space.”

If you live in the Bay Area, or have ever driven to San Francisco from SFO and seen “South San Francisco the Industrial City” painted on a hillside, you’ve seen San Bruno Mountain. What you may not know is that it's a 3,600-acre island of biodiversity. The mountain’s “colorful grasslands, thick woodland canyons, trickling creeks, and scrubby hills” are home to 13 rare and endangered plant species and multiple federally listed endangered butterflies.

San Bruno Mountain Watch provides educational resources to the public such as online archives that explore the mountain and its history, and field trips for students to learn about the mountain’s inhabitants like the endangered Mission Blue butterfly. In order to protect and conserve areas of natural and cultural significance for public open space purposes, the organization works with local landowners, donors, and government officials.

The Mission Blue Nursery grows native plants exclusively from seeds and cuttings collected by permit on San Bruno Mountain. Talk about local! These plants are used for ecological restoration projects on the mountain and landscaping projects in neighboring cities. They are also for sale to the public.

A final area of activity revolves around ecological restoration and depends on volunteers. From planting native grasses and wildflowers that support the butterflies, to installing dune plants and designing a botanical garden there are many ways you and your green thumb can get involved. Don’t have a green thumb? You can also help out washing pots and picking weeds. Check the upcoming events page for volunteer opportunities or the trail maps to plan your next hike.

Other ways you can support San Bruno Mountain Watch and protect the open space for you and others to enjoy is by making a donation and following them on on social media. San Bruno Mountain Watch: Facebook and Instagram. Mission Blue Nursery: Facebook and Instagram

Friday, January 19, 2024

Feel Good Friday - Global Penguin Society

Did you know that tomorrow is National Penguin Day? What a perfect time to learn all about the Global Penguin Society!

Founded in 2009 and headquartered in Argentina, the Global Penguin Society (GPS) is “the first and only international organization dedicated exclusively to the conservation of the world’s 18 penguin species and their habitats.”

According to penguin biologists, ten of the planet's eighteen penguin species have experienced serious population declines and it’s predicted that “over 90% of emperor penguin colonies will be quasi-extinct by the end of the century.” That’s why GPS is “dedicated to the conservation of the world's penguin species, the coasts and the oceans they inhabit.” Their work focuses on three areas: science, education and management. 

GPS conducts scientific research on penguins in Patagonia, Argentina, Chile and south of New Zealand in order to guide conservation actions. This includes projects such as monitoring penguin populations, tracking them at sea and assessing threats like oil drilling, pollution and the illegal trade of penguins. 

In order to reach their educational goal of fostering a “conservation culture”, GPS has many ways they teach people about penguins and the importance of healthy oceans. They’ve published and distributed 10,000 free books across five Spanish speaking countries and they’ve organized field trips for 7,500 children who live near penguin colonies. 

Working with government, community officials and landowners around the world, GPS creates effective conservation policies that benefit both penguins and their local ecosystems and nearby communities. To date they’ve helped protect 32,000,000 acres of marine and coastal areas which has benefitted 2,400,000 penguins!

If you’re ready to get involved with the Global Penguin Society, you can start by increasing your knowledge. Whether you want to be able to distinguish between the King and Emperor penguins or find out the breeding biology of the Norther Rockhopper, this link is full of facts and photos. Level up by making a donation to GPS and amplifying their message on social media. Like the GPS Facebook page and follow them on Instagram @globalpenguinsociety. 

Friday, January 12, 2024

Feel Good Friday - Good Sports

Health and fitness is top of mind for many of us in the new year. Today’s Feel Good Friday organization, Good Sports, is focused on physical activity year round.

Founded in 2003 and headquartered in Braintree, Massachusetts, “Good Sports drives equitable access in youth sports and physical activity, by supporting children in high-need communities to achieve their greatest potential, on the field and in life.” 

The benefits of children playing sports include improvements to their mental and physical health but the cost of equipment and apparel can be prohibitive. That’s where Good Sports comes in. 

Working directly with the sporting goods industry, Good Sports obtains a variety of athletic gear, apparel and footwear which they store in their 37,000 square foot warehouse. It’s quite a change from the early days of driving around with trunks full of basketballs. You can watch this 5-minute video to hear the founders discuss how the program has evolved over the last 20 years.

Organizations around the U.S. with programs that serve youth, such as schools or parks and recreation programs, can apply for equipment donations. Once approved, they are given access to an online catalog to order available equipment. The team at Good Sports wants to help these groups increase the total amount of youth participants, enhance the experience for all young people involved, and create new opportunities in physical activity for the kids they serve. Since 2003, Good Sports has reached over 9.3 million kids with more than $95 million worth of equipment!

If you’re not ready to work on your own physical fitness but want to make sure kids around the country have access to sports and play, there are many ways you can get involved with Good Sports. People living in the greater Boston area can volunteer in the warehouse. No matter where you live you can make a donation and amplify their message on social media. Follow Good Sports on Facebook, Instagram or LinkedIn and subscribe to their YouTube channel

Friday, January 5, 2024

Feel Good Friday - Toastmasters International

As we enter the new year and work on our resolutions, I’m highlighting a great resource for anyone who wants to improve their public speaking skills, Toastmasters International.

Founded in 1924 and headquartered in Englewood, Colorado, Toastmasters International “is a nonprofit educational organization that builds confidence and teaches public speaking skills through a worldwide network of clubs that meet online and in person.” Their mission is to “empower individuals to become more effective communicators and leaders.”

Many people fear public speaking more than death. Whether you want to overcome a phobia or just improve your technique, Toastmasters International can help. Watch this short video for an overview or keep reading.

The process starts when you join a club in your area. With over 16,000 clubs across 149 countries you’re sure to find one near you. It’s here in the clubs that people practice their skills by delivering speeches, responding to impromptu questions, and giving and receiving constructive feedback. In addition to all the practice and evaluations, there are opportunities to take on club meeting and leadership roles, and all members have access to a mentor. Click here to learn more.

Toastmasters International also has educational programs. Pathways is an online tool with 11 specialized learning paths that help you develop workplace skills. Examples include: interview preparation, online meeting management, and conflict resolution. Speechcraft is a short program that helps non-members improve their communication skills, and the Youth Leadership Program focuses on giving 14-18 year olds practical experience that develops their communication and leadership skills.

If you’re not ready to become one of the 270,000 members of Toastmasters International, you can still access a variety of resources on the website. Go to the video library to get tips on using gestures and body language to keep your audience engaged, or explore the latest issue of Toastmaster Magazine.

For those of you ready to take on your personal and professional communication goals this year, find a local club and become a member. Next, consider going to the Toastmasters International Convention in Anaheim this summer to celebrate the 100-year anniversary! As always, stay in the loop on social media. Like the Toastmasters International Facebook page, follow them on LinkedIn or Instagram and subscribe to their YouTube channel.