Uniting Grassroots Conservation and Environmental Justice in Urban Parks
Many people have discussed uniting grassroots conservation and environmental justice movements, but Brent Plater’s actions speak louder than words. His dedication to bringing these movements together has brought volunteers and change makers together to build a larger movement while solving complex environmental problems. His formula for success? Share a vision that people can believe in, and then equip them with the tools they need to make that vision a reality.
And people have been taking notice. He has been honored with media headlines and environmental awards including the John Muir Environmental Education Conservation Award, Unsung Hero Award, and Best of San Francisco winner.
In 2008, Brent founded the Golden Gate National Parks’ Endangered Species Big Year, a race against time to not only observe – but also take action to save -- each of the endangered and threatened species found within the Golden Gate National Parks. In this competitive event, participants were asked to take conservation recovery actions for each imperiled species. In the program’s first year alone, more than 14,000 people took part. Not one to rest on his laurels, Brent added another layer to the program in 2011 called “Endangered Semester,” providing students who have not succeeded in traditional classrooms an opportunity to experience an outdoor learning environment.
With the help of his Toyota TogetherGreen Fellowship, Brent grew the Big Year to include six outdoor experiential education programs for over 90 youth in the San Francisco Bay Area. The expanded version included a “team-in-training” model, where actions taught valuable job and naturalist skills to participants in a group setting. His Fellowship also enabled Brent to target and engage more participants, including underserved youth, a group he is passionate about reaching and with whom he has already seen success in the program.