Back to News

Catalina Island Conservancy Volunteers Experience and Enjoy the Wild Side

Thursday, January 07, 2016

Catalina Island Conservancy


AVALON, Calif. – They came from cities, towns and rural areas ranging from North Carolina to California. A few had graduated college. One had just completed high school, and others were midway in their higher education journey.

While their backgrounds varied widely, the eight young adults from AmeriCorps found common purpose during their eight weeks of volunteering for the Catalina Island Conservancy.

“It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to help protect the environment on the Island,” said Chalynn Passmore, 27, the team leader from Anderson, CA. “The biodiversity that is coming back on the Island is just one-of-a-kind. We saw things most people never get to see, and we had the opportunity to help preserve and develop that biodiversity in the land.”

AmeriCorps has been sending volunteers to Catalina for 14 years, and those volunteers have donated more than 50,000 hours of labor to the Conservancy, plus additional hours to the Island community.

“Among the many groups that volunteer with the Conservancy, AmeriCorps volunteers stand out because they serve longer than most – usually six to eight weeks at a time,” said Cindy Lazaris, the Conservancy’s former group volunteer coordinator. “Their longer tours of duty mean they can tackle the more complex tasks that require more training and more time to complete.”

AmeriCorps is the national service program that puts some 75,000 Americans to work every year in volunteer service programs for nonprofit organizations, like the Conservancy. On Catalina, this year’s volunteers cleared brush, maintained trails, removed invasive plants and helped with Conservancy events, including the 20th Annual Conservancy Ball and The Wild Side Salon in Avalon.

“It’s been a really amazing experience,” said John Akers, 22, the project outreach liaison from Newton, MA. “The Conservancy has really treated us well.”

The Conservancy provided the group with Naturalist Training, a kayaking trip and other educational opportunities so that they could understand how their work would contribute to the Island’s ecosystem. In addition to gaining a new understanding of the environment, the volunteers said they learned valuable life skills during their time on the Island.

“I have learned a lot about myself by encountering so many different people and learning their stories,” said Tanisha Williams, 23, from Ellenwood, CA. “Volunteering like this gives you a chance to learn how to get along with people from different backgrounds – who you would never encounter otherwise – and to learn how to work through problems to reach common ground.”

Would you like to Volunteer?

Individuals, organizations and groups can give back while having fun and experiencing the beauty of Catalina.  Volunteer experiences can range from one day to several days and can be tailored to the group’s abilities, age and skill level. Please visit the “Volunteer” page on the website,, or contact Lesly Lieberman, volunteer coordinator, 310-510-2595 ext. 109 or

View all News articles by:

Catalina Island Conservancy


Catalina Island Conservancy

The Catalina Island Conservancy was formed in 1972 and is one of California’s oldest land trusts. Its mission is to be a responsible steward of its lands through a balance of conservation, education and recreation. The Conservancy protects the magnificent natural and cultural heritage of Santa Catalina Island, stewarding approximately 42,000 acres of land, 62 miles of rugged shoreline and more than 80 miles of trails. It operates the Airport in the Sky, Wrigley Memorial & Botanic Garden and two nature centers. Twenty miles from the mainland, the Island is home to more than 60 plant and animal species found nowhere else in the world. - Watch Video

Viewed: 930 times

  • Get Here
  • Things to Do
  • Calendar of Events
  • Where to Stay
  • Dining
  • Special Offers