Laurel Rematore (YA’s membership director), and I are members of the Association of Partners for Public Lands Training Corps. We provide training for land agency partners across the country in a variety of areas, including strategic planning, financial management, membership, and fundraising. As members of the corps, we delight in helping non-profits become successful in supporting public lands. This past weekend, we conducted a training workshop (along with our colleague Claudia Schechter, former CFO and VP for operations for the National Park Foundation) for two new organizations: Piedras Blancas Lighthouse Foundation and The Friends of Carrizo Plain. The energy and dedication exhibited by the participants made our job very easy, and we know these two groups will go on to do great work.
Part of the fun in training is seeing the public lands the groups will be supporting. The training was held at the Piedras Blancas Light Station, near San Simeon. We received a wonderful tour of the lighthouse, observed sea lions and elephant seals, and met a volunteer who spends much of her time trying to clear the site of the ubiquitous non-native ice plant. My favorite fun-fact of the weekend derived from the rocks that bear the Piedras Blancas name. Their whiteness comes from thousands of years of accumulation of bird guano!
Additionally, Penny Harris, a member of the Piedras Blancas board and docent at Hearst Castle, arranged a tour of the castle for us. Hearst’s grand and eccentric vision made for quite an experience. The site never once failed to impress, from the Greek Nymph pool, to the 16th century Spanish cathedral ceilings, to the 2,500 year-old Egyptian statue.