I'm guessing most of us would much rather explore a new trail, identify a new plant, or marvel at the colors reflecting off a hummingbird's gorget than ask someone for money.
We often associate asking for money with jobs and careers that many of us might have intentionally avoided. I remember a conversation with my grandfather, when I told him I enjoyed environmental education because I wasn't comfortable with the idea of sales. He reminded me that even good ideas didn't just happen; they still had to be to be pitched. We can see this today when even a life-saving vaccine needs some promotion.
Luckily, the California Naturalist program makes it easy, because there are so many good reasons to support the program. We fundraise, because our program...
- Provides important services. The California Naturalist and Climate Stewards certification courses we've developed address a growing demand from the public. In addition we help our partners evaluate their courses, track volunteer service, and train new instructors.
- Has so much work to do to reach every adult in California. That includes the person in Visalia who wants to take our course, the partners in Redding who are ready to teach our course, and the communities in Stockton and El Centro looking for a local course they can join. Gifts allow us to provide scholarships in the form of fee waivers for participants with a financial need.
- Addresses pressing needs. Including the loss of biodiversity, ongoing threats from climate change, and the spread of invasive species.
- Can always be improved. No program is perfect and maintaining a high quality course requires continuous improvement.
- Deserves a sustainable source of funding. Funding that is not subject to the whims of economic cycles and fluctuations.
These are all good reasons for a program to fundraise. But the most important reason is because our program has value. There is value to the participants, whose lives are transformed by their experience. There is value generated from over 35,000 hours of volunteer service estimated at over $1 million annually. And, finally, there is a broader public value that accrues to our communities, our society, and our state through the cumulative impact of decisions and actions of thousands of people that help make our communities more sustainable, resilient, and vibrant.
Our community of naturalists and stewards are already committed to giving. They give their time and their talent in the service of their community and environment. Ask them what they get in return and they'll probably just smile a knowing smile and reflect on a special trail, a flash of iridescent color, or the shared excitement of a child that's made a new discovery. We fundraise for all the reasons above and to bring that same knowing smile to even more faces across the state. The UC California Naturalist Program thanks you for your ongoing generosity. Whether your contributions come in the form of intellectual labor, sweat equity, or through a financial contribution, your efforts are appreciated.
We are gearing up for our annual "Big Dig" fundraiser on Friday, June 4. Please consider making a donation to help us sustain our program.