(VISALIA, CA) – Some standout SRT EARTH Academy participants were recently honored as “Environmental Heroes” by the Visalia Environmental Alliance (VEA) and Tulare County Board of Supervisors. They were recognized “for all the work and dedication to the environment and programs that support caring for the environment.” The award recognizes local youth, adults, organizations and businesses for their outstanding efforts to protect our natural resources.
As a family, the Castellanos family has actively participated extensively for several years in Sequoia Riverlands Trust endeavors as volunteers, students, and chaperones with SRT EARTH Academy; Forestry Challenges; multicultural events; and workdays. The Castellanos sons started an environmental action club Kids Versus Climate Change that has conducted many events that engaged youth county wide. They have engaged with local indigenous peoples in native crafts and land care knowledge. And they are part of the Earth Builders Club dedicated to building structures with natural materials. At home the family is reducing water use, planted native plants to encourage pollinators, planted trees and hung bird houses that have attracted a variety of birds, and have plans to replace their lawn. They are also active recyclers. Impressive commitments from all, according to Visalia Environmental Alliance member Jolene Edwards.
The Visalia Environmental Alliance is a grass roots organization that advocates for lifestyle practices and solutions as responsible stewards of our natural resources in Visalia and the surrounding areas.
After high school senior Joseph Castellanos was initially singled out with a nomination, it quickly became apparent to award organizers that the whole tight-knit Castellanos family deserved the honor as well. So Jose and Alba Castellanos along with high school junior Abraham and seventh grader Jonathon shared the award along with Joseph.
“Honestly, I was not expecting such recognition,” Alba said, “nor was my husband. It is always our desire to support and encourage our children and allow them to flourish and blossom. Even making mistakes along the way, I believe they will learn and grow from them. I know the boys were very excited and felt very special to know they were being recognized for what they love doing.”
“I am proud of our boys for their love and dedication to be good stewards of God’s amazing creation, and for their desire and willingness to serve and be the change they want to see in the world,” said their very proud mom. And deservedly so. The Castellanos family have attended numerous SRT special events, volunteer days, fundraisers, and EARTH Academy sessions over their years of steady, dedicated involvement. Their SRT Ranger badges reflect that commitment. “Our family have become SRT Preserve Rangers, and we were given the opportunity to participate alongside SRT's biologist at the Carrizo Plain to monitor giant kangaroo rats, an endangered species,” Alba said.
“We are blessed to have the opportunity to participate in many of these activities alongside our children. We do everything in our power to support them, be there for them and with them whenever possible, to guide them to the best of our ability in the fear of God, doing everything in our power to lead them by example and creating memories in the process,” Alba said.
“The SRT staff has always been welcoming, supportive and they are responsible for opening the doors to the boys' passion for the environment,” Alba said, adding that “our local Wukchumni Natives have also welcomed us with open arms. We have learned so much from them and they are part of our lives.”
She would like to add a special thanks to Jeff Alexander at ERCLC for always showing support, encouragement and for being an awesome landscaping teacher. “Let's do our part! be the difference we want to see in the world, remember to be good Stewards of the land, and remember that we must Serve to Preserve,” Alba said.
“Our boys now know they can make a difference in their community and help maintain the environment. And now they are making sure to do their part.”