Acting Locally

Volunteers and staff at work on a CNPS North Coast Chapter field training; Image: Sara Bandali

Making a difference

CNPS is an organization grounded in volunteerism. With 35 chapters across California and one in Baja California, Mexico, CNPS is driven by thousands of knowledgeable volunteers bringing the native plant mission to life in their communities. Volunteers serve as board members, chapter delegates, local conservation chairs, garden tour organizers, native plant educators, field trip leaders, nursery operators, and more. This year, volunteerism shined as chapters emerged from the pandemic with vibrant public programs, record-breaking plant sales, local activism, and place-based science. We wish to thank all of our volunteers who made this work possible. Together, these incredible people volunteered more than 134,332 hours this year – that’s 368 hours a day!! While the contributions are too many to list, we’ve selected a few of our favorites from the year.

The Gift of Service


CNPS Volunteer Hours (368 hours per day)


Field Trips


Field Trip Attendees


Plant Sale Revenue

New ways to serve communities

Native plants beautify and enliven neighborhoods, but not everyone has access to them. CNPS chapters are stepping in to help. Through the CNPS Sacramento Valley Chapter’s Homegrowers for Social Justice initiative, volunteers grew and donated more than 300 plants for local non-profits and community spaces. The chapter also worked with the CNPS Redbud Chapter, the Maidu Museum, United Auburn Indian Community, and CNPS staff to provide gardening resources and a native plant sale for local residents.

In San Francisco, volunteers from the CNPS Yerba Buena Chapter’s Plantsgiving program cultivated and donated more than 1,500 plants — all grown from local seed source — to local schools, parks, museums, and other organizations. Working with San Francisco Children & Nature, the Low Income Investment Fund, and Rebuilding Together SF, the chapter also designed and led the installation of native gardens at community parks and eight low-income senior homes. (Special thanks to CNPS Yerba Buena Chapter board member Elliot Goliger who obtained cuttings from San Bruno Mountain and Miraloma, and initiated contact with nurseries where the cuttings are grown.)

Photo: Cathy Lewis and Davin Chan transforming a home garden for San Francisco seniors; Image: Bob Hall

Janis Rodda’s beautiful artwork for Plantsgiving seed packet give-aways.
Janis Rodda’s beautiful artwork for Plantsgiving seed packet give-aways.

Wildflowers as ambassadors

With the resumption of in-person events, CNPS chapters hosted wildflower shows, field trips, and other outreach. Through a new Wildflower Ambassadors Program developed by volunteer Jennifer Dirking, the Santa Clara Valley Chapter gave away more than 3,000 seed packets at nearly 20 events – a great conversation starter for people new to native plants! Meanwhile, Monterey residents welcomed the return of the CNPS Monterey Chapter’s annual wildflower show, one of the largest in the nation.

A collaboration of expert volunteers

This year, three CNPS chapters formed a North Coast Sensitive Natural Communities sub-committee to sample, map, and rank plant communities along California’s North Coast. CNPS Vegetation Program staff and volunteers from the CNPS North Coast, Dorothy King Young, and Sanhedrin chapters conducted more than 70 surveys in sensitive communities in Del Norte, Humboldt, and Mendocino counties. Special thanks to Teresa Sholars, Renee Pasquinelli, and their team!

See highlights from Big Lagoon fen

Photo: Claudia Voigt, Gordon Leppig, and Peter Warner look at the vegetation types in the fen and discuss which stands to survey. Image: Sara Bandali

Gardens Forever

CNPS Chapters across the state held garden tours and plant sales, making sure their communities had access to a diverse selection of healthy native plants suited for their respective regions. Volunteers donated thousands of hours to make these events a reality, and we thank all involved for their dedication. Together, CNPS chapters raised more than $324,000 through plant sales, the proceeds of which go back to the chapters to support local service.

It’s like a dream but it happened: we sold hundreds and hundreds of California native plants that will find their way into gardens, providing food and habitat for local insects, birds and wildlife.

– John Springer, CNPS Shasta Chapter

A focus on stewardship

How do you stop a highly invasive plant? You catch it early. The CNPS Orange County Chapter’s Emergent Invasive Plant Program focuses on detecting new invasive species before they take hold. The chapter reviews nearly 100 plant species each year, supporting local, state, and federal land managers when everything is blooming everywhere all at once! (Special thanks to Orange County Parks volunteer Joan Miller whose team consistently worked to eradicate the plants after the CNPS volunteers conducted initial field surveys and assessed the plants.)

In Sonoma County, volunteers from the Milo Baker Chapter worked with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) to propagate cuttings of the last wild Vine Hill Manzanitas (Arctostaphylos densiflora, CNPS rank 1B.1). The chapter planted 68 plants at two preserve locations, courtesy of the Sonoma Land Trust and Marcia Johnson, and 107 plants across seven Northern California botanical gardens.

Further south, CNPS San Diego Chapter volunteers are celebrating the return of fairy shrimp and special plant species after helping to remove 16 tons of trash from the 10-acre Arjons vernal pool site.

Supporting local restoration efforts, the CNPS East Bay Chapter’s Native Here Nursery grew 900 healthy individuals of the rare Suisun Marsh aster (Symphyotrichum lentum, CNPS rank 1B.2) for a Suisun Marsh restoration project. Further west, the CNPS Santa Cruz Chapter partnered with the City of Santa Cruz on a management plan for rare coastal prairie habitat.

On location at Vine Hill Preserve; Image: Caroline Martorano
On location at Vine Hill Preserve; Image: Caroline Martorano
On a field trip with the CNPS LA/Santa Monica Mountains Chapter; Image: Bill Neill
Volunteer-led field trips (left and right) with the CNPS LA/Santa Monica Mountains Chapter; Images: Bill Neill

Admiring monkeyflowers on a field trip with the CNPS LA/Santa Monica Mountains Chapter; Image: Bill Neill

Passing it on

Volunteers across the state shared their love and knowledge of native plants with people of all ages, from more than 300 hours of field trips to novel education opportunities. CNPS Sanhedrin Chapter volunteers developed dozens of  radio “plant spots” for the local KZYK station, which aired each Wednesday at 8 am. In the Southland, CNPS San Gabriel Mountains Chapter volunteer Gabi McLean started a weeding program in partnership with the local Audubon chapter and Los Angeles County Parks to learn to identify noxious weeds from native plants while enjoying some birding.

Sometimes passing it on means protecting and preserving literal physical plant specimens and records for future generations. In an incredible effort this year,  CNPS Kern Chapter volunteers facilitated the preservation and transfer of 4,000 specimens from the Bakersfield Herbarium to the Buena Vista Museum of Natural History. Once digitized, this collection will provide a priceless historical record of the native plants that once occurred in the area prior to housing and agricultural development.

Collaboration between different organizations is beneficial for all involved. I like to call it cross pollination. It reaffirms that we have many people out there with similar values and concerns for plants and conservation.

– Helena Bowman, San Gabriel Mountains Chapter

CNPS Fellow and nursery expert Betty Young and Landscape Designer and CNPS Board Member April Owens generously shared decades of knowledge in the Milo Baker Chapter’s new native planting guide for Sonoma County residents.
CNPS Fellow and nursery expert Betty Young and Landscape Designer and CNPS Board Member April Owens generously shared decades of knowledge in the CNPS Milo Baker Chapter’s new native planting guide for Sonoma County residents.