Catalina Island News

Earth Day Celebration Draws More than 1,200

Catalina Island Conservancy

More than 1,200 residents and visitors poured through the open gates of the Wrigley Memorial & Botanical Garden - about 450 more than any previous Earth Day, according to Aaron Morehouse, Education Program Supervisor for the Conservancy who coordinated the event.

The message repeated throughout the many booths, and even through the live music was the necessity to "reduce, reuse and recycle" to make our planet Earth a healthier place to live.

"There was a wonderful balance of information on sustainable practices that we can all do in our daily lives," Morehouse said. "There was also a strong concentration on conservation efforts happening on Catalina Island, glimpses into the marine environment in our near shore waters, exceptional live music, delicious organic and vegan food, and wonderful arts and crafts."

Sarah Ratay, Conservancy Plant Ecologist, along with American Conservation Experience (ACE) intern Elizabeth Canarata and plant ecology intern Vickie Englert, created a display of wildflowers in bloom around the Island. They also dispensed information on the importance of protecting rare and unique plants following the fire two years ago.  Peter Dixon and Chris Todd along with intern Richard Mansfield sold native plants grown at the James H. Ackerman Native Plant Nursery, while helping to introduce those who came by their booth to the number of choices residents have to keep their gardens healthy and sustainable here on the Island.  "We had a lot of really positive feedback from residents and visitors," Dixon said. "Some people were unaware that we have a native plant nursery on the Island so the exposure and the ability to fulfill native plant needs within the community was an excellent opportunity."

As a complement to the native plant display and nursery stand, Shane Barrow, Invasive Plant Program Manager, along with his staff, Charlie de la Rosa, Darren McCormick and ACE volunteer Rachel Cruz, explained the ecological challenges posed by invasive yellow-flowered, flax-leaved broom, also known as genista, and how the Conservancy is working on keeping it from choking out native plants on the Island.

Kelly Callaghan-Skoff, who helped coordinate the event, and Rich "Mr. Z" Zanelli of the Conservancy's Education Department, kept youngsters busy with conservation-oriented arts and crafts including rock paintings, all done using recycled and reused containers.

"The weather was beautiful - which was a gift that surely contributed to the record numbers," Morehouse said. "However it was the many hands that went into the day that made it so successful."

Among the participants he singled out were:

  • The Catalina Island Marine Institute (for their marine touch tank and fish printing table);
  • Howland's Landing and the Catalina Environmental Leadership Program (for food, music, displays on sustainable living, and the inspiration that comes from seeing their young staff ride their bicycles 25 miles to the event);
  • The Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center and researchers from the Orange Crowned Warbler study (highlighting their study and the 'art' of field research in the world of ornithology);
  • Angie Bera and Dinghy Docks (highlighting sustainable choices for the home);
  • Mike Walter and Catalina Pottery (displaying original works of art, ceramics, and pottery);
  • Avalon City Parks & Recreation Department (for the supporting role and shared equipment);
  • Americorps Volunteers (for getting people back and forth from the Nature Center in the electric RAV-4s and orienting folks to the benefits of electric vehicles);
  • and Dave and Lori Montgomery of eCatalina (for their contribution of filming the event).


He thanked the many musicians, who helped keep the stage alive all day, including:

  • Mary Stein (for coordinating efforts as well as her inspirational tunes);
  • Butch Azevedo (for his voice and rhythms on the beat box);
  • Norman Merten (for guitar pickin' and belting out the tunes);
  • Jim Pyke (for some of the best folk music this side of the Appalachian Mountains);
  • Stan, Spencer, and Pablo of Autopilot (for a glimpse into the up and coming young musicians in Avalon);
  • Angie and Dan Teckenoff of Bandangela (for tunes...for getting our poster on the front cover of the Islander...and for their media support of the day);
  • Burt Lyon (for expert maneuvering on the accordion);
  • Travis and Jacob from Howlands Landing (who closed out the stage at just past 4pm!);
  • Randy Brannock (for stage support and overall being a great part of the Earth Day Team);
  • Bill Agresta (for his artful execution of getting stage, sound, and equipment all together for an unbelievable music assemblage).

Morehouse also thanked the Conservancy staff that provided displays, activities, booths, and played critical supporting roles including:

  • The Catalina Island Conservancy's Visitor and Volunteer Services;
  • Facilities staff;
  • The James H. Ackerman Native Plant Nursery  and Plant Ecologists;
  • The Catalina Habitat Improvement and Restoration Program (CHIRP);
  • Education staff, Communications staff, and of course the staff at the Wrigley Memorial and Botanical Garden.


The Conservancy's Education staff invites community members and businesses to become involved in Earth Day 2010 by submitting ideas, volunteering to assist with coordinating portions of the event, and exploring the option of having a booth to help this exceptional event grow. To get involved, please call Kelly Callaghan-Skoff at 310-510-0954.