What is CNPS?


During the recent upheaval about NWF, I mentioned in passing that I preferred to support CNPS, thinking, of course, that everyone knows who they are. This was a little silly, because even inside California, the California Native Plant Society (CNPS) isn't exactly well known.

CNPS's misson, as stated on their web page, is
...to conserve California native plants and their natural habitats, and increase understanding, appreciation, and horticultural use of native plants. 

To achieve that goal, CNPS relies to a large degree on local chapters. Each of the chapters is different. Some are smaller, others fairly large. The East Bay Chapter is large, has a native plant nursery and many events. The Santa Clara Valley Chapter offers scholarships and has a Facebook page.

What I like especially is the breadth of activities. The chapters support wildflower hikes, an annual wildflower show, and rare plant inventory and other research events. But most chapters also include Gardening with Natives activities that include garden tours and monthly talks. Some publicity events might also happen. Country Mouse and I have worked the CNPS booth at the Flower and Garden Show as booth mice the last two? three? years and have enjoyed meeting people, talking about natives, and signing up new members.

In addition, the organization supports some state-wide events that include publications, research support, and an annual symposium (in San Diego this year). All this is done on a shoe-string budget, and mostly by volunteers. I put in about 200 hours in 2010 on the Going Native Garden Tour, and very much enjoyed meeting people, manipulating photos for the website, writing up garden descriptions, and helping out as needed. I know some of the other garden tour committee members put in many more hours, all in addition to demanding full-time jobs. Being involved with an organization that inspires such dedication makes me feel hopeful. Such work is its own reward.

(Disclaimer: I've actually never gone to a chapter meeting and I'm primarily involved with the garden tour. Maybe Ms. Country Mouse has more to report about her own chapter?)


Elephant's Eye said…
Ah now I'm with you. In South Africa we would talk about BotSoc. The Botanical Society of South Africa. With branches (Kirstenbosch etc.) and twigs (the newer ones). Sadly we are out on a limb here, so all I get is the quarterly magazine. An awful lot of our garden is seedlings (free seed for members) and cuttings or plants from the annual sale at K'bosch run by volunteers.
Country Mouse said…
Well I just got back from a spontaneous overnighter at Asilomar with WoodRat during which he got down on one knee and proposed! So after 12 years, he's gonna make an honest mouse of me... I'll talk about our chapter later tomorrow though. Nice informative post on CNPS there Ms Town.
Town Mouse said…
Wow, that's as good an excuse for delaying writing about CNPS as I've ever heard! Congratulations to both of you!
Country Mouse said…
My involvement in the Santa Cruz CNPS has been mainly through the plant propagation group, like your BotSoc, EE. We grow native plants to sell twice a year, spring and fall, as a fundraiser, and simply to make more native plants available for peoples' gardens. It's pure fun for me, I admit. We also have an active habitat restoration group that I'd like to join in with, but I have a lot of restoration of my own to do here, and not so much time, so I haven't joined in yet. We also have a newsletter, bimonthly talks, and organized hikes. Also we are active in environmental local politics, such as providing alternative solutions to the paving of a bike trail, which would cause disruption to rare native species. Ours is a smaller chapter than the Santa Clara Valley one, which includes "Silicon Valley" with its large population base, and our membership tends to the gray hair mob. But recently we some new active members from University of California at Santa Cruz have joined, who are in turn encouraging a younger group of folks to attend activities etc. And as I mentioned, I'm taking on co-chair of publicity and outreach this year. I look forward to becoming more active in all aspects of the chapter beginning in the second half of this year.