Connecting Immigrant Populations to Their New, Natural World
The Bay Area’s Silicon Valley is home to a thriving constellation of communities that brings together people from all around the globe. Silicon Valley is also home to a dwindling population of Western Burrowing Owls. With help from TogetherGreen, Shani Kleinhaus engaged Silicon Valley’s diverse community of college students in local environmental stewardship and conservation to restore owl habitat at Shoreline Park. Most of the students who participated in the program were immigrants or sons and daughters of immigrants, representing more than 25 countries.
Shani has conducted ecological research, planning, outreach, and conservation efforts both in California and internationally for over 20 years. Through her work as an Environmental Advocate for the Santa Clara Valley Audubon Society, Shani created and cultivated a diverse group of community advocates and volunteers dedicated to saving the Burrowing Owls of Shoreline Park. This work, and her life experience as a new resident to the Bay Area, inspired her project. With the students and volunteers, Shani strengthened a working relationship with decision makers and staff of the City of Mountain View, enabling her to work with the city and to involve students in the preservation and enhancement of Burrowing Owls habitat at Mountain View’s Shoreline Park.
Shani’s plan to involve the diverse community of the Bay Area in conservation efforts was not only great news for the owls, but for the Bay Area community itself. The relationships Shani forged during her fellowship encouraged students and volunteers to continue to engage in habitat restoration, maintenance, and enhancement activities, including weeding and mowing, restoration of native plants, creating livable areas for prey species, and installing and maintaining artificial nesting burrows at Shoreline Park. Shani reached an often overlooked demographic, making lasting connections and building a stronger community.
Shani was one of five 2010 TogetherGreen Fellows honored with the TogetherGreen Mentor Award. The Mentor Award is an opportunity to recognize outstanding individuals who have best supported their fellowship class. Shani received an additional $1,000 for her conservation project in recognition of service to her class and to TogetherGreen.