PLATINUM2023

Friends of The Water Conservation Garden

More Beauty, Less Water

aka The Water Conservation Garden   |   El Cajon, CA   |  www.thegarden.org

Mission

To educate and inspire through excellent exhibits and programs that promote water conservation and the sustainable use of related natural resources.

Ruling year info

2006

Principal Officer

Jennifer Pillsbury

Main address

12122 Cuyamaca College Dr W

El Cajon, CA 92019 USA

Show more contact info

EIN

20-4395919

NTEE code info

Environmental Education and Outdoor Survival Programs (C60)

Botanical Gardens, Arboreta and Botanical Organizations (C41)

Museum & Museum Activities (A50)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Communication

Blog

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

The Water Conservation Garden is on a mission to promote water conservation and the sustainable use of related natural resources. Water, one of Earth’s most abundant resources, is surprisingly scarce in many parts of the world. Less than 1% of all water on Earth can be accessed for use by people. The remainder is salt water or frozen in glaciers/ice caps. As the population continues to grow, and climate change causes droughts, water shortages will grow increasingly more common. Water conservation will be at the forefront of risk mitigation efforts of natural resources. Risk mitigation is essential to the survival of the human race. In California, all 58 counties within the state are under a drought emergency proclamation with 80% of residents in San Diego County expressing concern over the state’s record drought.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Adult Education

To accomplish our mission of promoting water conservation awareness, The Water Conservation Garden provides adult education workshops, classes, consultations, and tours in the areas of gardening, sustainability, arts & culture, and wellness. All adult programs honor The Garden’s philosophy of “More Beauty, Less Water!” The primary goal of our adult education programs is to help residents save water and money by focusing on water-wise landscaping techniques and gardening with drought-tolerant plants. The Water Conservation Garden implements residential gardening education programs to increase awareness on stormwater pollution prevention and water conservation issues, with the goal of driving behavior change that will protect the environment.

Population(s) Served
Adults

The Water Conservation Garden’s Ms. Smarty-Plants™ program is an award-winning and nationally-recognized environmental education program for youth and their families. This character-based water conservation education program exceeds California State Standards, STEM, and NGSS learning. It has reached 20,000 children and their families through assemblies, field trips, Ms. Camps, and Ms. Storytimes. A unique component of his program is that it is an all-inclusive curriculum that can be tailored to any grade level. Ms. Smarty-Plants™ is delivered in English, Spanish, and American Sign Language. The target population for this program are students from Title 1 schools in the Cajon Valley Union School District (CVUSD) with over 70% of program participants coming from Title 1 schools. According to ed-data.org, this district has a large minority population with 33% of students identified as English language learners. Additionally, over 70% of CVUSD students receive free or reduced-priced meals.

Population(s) Served
Children and youth

The Garden’s monthly Free Day Friday Initiative provides access to any San Diego County resident seeking a safe sanctuary to experience the many benefits of being outdoors. It is held on the second Friday of each month. While visiting The Garden, people enjoy the benefits of “nature therapy,” and learn how to create drought-resistant change in their yards and community spaces through our 50+ exhibits.  The overall goal of this request is to bring The Garden’s water conservation message to as many individuals within the community as possible, especially those from underserved areas, through monthly Free Day Friday Admission Days.

Population(s) Served

San Diego Tree Week, an initiative of The Water Conservation Garden, aims to bring neighbors together to plant trees in their community. Businesses, schools, and individuals will come together to celebrate the many benefits of trees. This week-long celebration encourages all San Diego County residents to appreciate and understand the usefulness of trees. The campaign aims to slow climate change by educating thousands of San Diegans about the benefits of tree planting in San Diego County. San Diego Tree Week aims to teach our community as trees grow, we slow climate change by removing carbon dioxide from the air, storing carbon in the trees and soil, and releasing oxygen into the atmosphere.

Population(s) Served

Where we work

Awards

Intelligent Use of Water Annual Leadership Award 2007

Rain Bird Corporation

Top Ten Western Gardens 2009

Sunset Magazine

Conservation Award 2007

Association of Zoological Horticulture

Clean Water Champion 2005

County of San Diego

Our results

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one.

Number of trees planted

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Related Program

San Diego Tree Week

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Number of participants attending course/session/workshop

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Related Program

Adult Education

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Number of unique website visitors

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Our Sustainable Development Goals

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn more about Sustainable Development Goals.

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

To accomplish our goals, The Water Conservation Garden provides: 

- A meaningful outdoor experience for San Diego County residents 

- Extensive water conservation exhibits and resources 

- A nationally recognized Ms. Smarty-Plants™ environmental education program  

- Adult education programs on Water Conservation, Gardening, Sustainability, Art & Wellness.  

- Volunteer opportunities for seniors, teens, and young adults 

- Consultations in Landscape Design, Irrigation Tune-Ups, and Water Harvesting 

- The Dorcas E. Utter Butterfly Pavilion features numerous native butterfly species  

- Events such as festivals and plant sales throughout the year featuring family-friendly activities 

- Event space for community meetings, weddings, and other ceremonies 

The Water Conservation Garden is more than a destination; it’s a community of people who protect and serve the planet that we love – and fearlessly champion solutions to save water and other natural resources. We are a united community of neighbors, friends and change agents who believe we can make a difference.

The Water Conservation Garden is proud to serve San Diego County residents of all ages, including many underprivileged children who have limited exposure to nature. The Water Conservation Garden provides a safe, natural environment where children and adults can explore and discover amazing plants and animals. Hands-on exhibits enhance the visitor experience and foster a direct connection to their environment. These tangible educational experiences help create informed and engaged child.

To accomplish our goals, The Water Conservation Garden provides:

- A meaningful outdoor experience for San Diego County residents

- More than 50 educational conservation exhibits

- A nationally recognized award-winning Ms. Smarty-Plants™ environmental education program

- Adult education programs on Gardening, Sustainability, Art & Wellness.

- Volunteer opportunities for seniors, teens, young adults, and people with disabilities

- Consultations in Landscape Design, Irrigation Tune-Ups and Water Harvesting

- The Dorcas E. Utter Butterfly Pavilion featuring numerous native butterfly species

- Events such as festivals and plant sales throughout the year featuring family-friendly activities

- Event space for community meetings, weddings, and other ceremonies

The Water Conservation Garden leverages our strengths to carry out our goals.

● Beautiful, Water-Efficient California Landscapes: As a specialty demonstration garden, we grow beautiful, low water use California landscapes to learn from and enjoy

● Education & Inspiration: We inspire and educate so people of all ages can connect with plants and nature and build a better planet for future generations

● Wellness & Sense of Community: We provide a peaceful space and nurture a sense of wellness and community for all

Sustainability: We demonstrate that beautiful landscapes can be achieved by prioritizing sustainability for all natural resources

The Water Conservation Garden has accomplished many year one and two goals, such as:
●Adapt Ms. Smarty-PlantsTM virtually and develop and implement a plan to increase her presence on site as well as back into schools
● Seek funding for Spanish MSP
● Identify funding for completion and publication of MSP book Seek funding to complete (when feasible) a comprehensive site development plan1 (architectural plan)
that aligns with our strategic plan and lays out a ten-year vision for The Garden’s enhancement and expansion
● Continue to assess and improve lighting and electrical
● Secure “Free Days” funding
● Improve systems for member communication and engagement
● Select and implement at least one interactive/manipulative project in an existing exhibit in The Garden (e.g. something for kids)
● Implement 19 QR codes in The Garden
● Benchmark other gardens re: innovation/modernization
● Seek one or more partnerships that help us stand out as a wellness destination
● Develop and begin to execute a local business outreach program
● Grow/extend social media community
● Develop a plan to grow and diversify revenue streams to sustain operations
● Update development, membership and stewardship plans
● Invest in and refine financial and administrative systems to allow for accurate and efficient reporting, tracking, and planning
● Develop new programs for youth and adults

Year three goal (to be completed) include:
● Expand fenced area in the Oak Grove area
● Consider and plan for exhibits that focus on the interaction between plants and animals (e.g. hummingbirds, bees, insects) and plan for volunteer corps to care for them to ensure a healthy ecosystem
● Branding/Signage for The Garden at the entrance, college entrance
and on Jamacha Rd. (County Rd.)
● Implement a beverage cart
● Incorporate more shade and comfortable seating
● Implement audio education and plant identification into The Garden
● Innovate around exhibits/education connected to any new water
conservation regulations
● Define and build a Garden plant inventory for education and marketing purposes
● Identify needs for branding and marketing and a plan for increased visibility
● Develop a PR packet
● Implement outreach plan for diverse groups
● Grow membership to 2,000
● Based on comprehensive site plan, develop and begin executing fund development plan with clear menu of funding opportunities
● Based on comprehensive site plan, develop and launch a legacy or other campaign (will need to agree on priority of the campaign: endowment, capital growth)
● Develop a capital improvement plan linked to comprehensive site plan

How we listen

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Seeking feedback from people served makes programs more responsive and effective. Here’s how this organization is listening.

done We demonstrated a willingness to learn more by reviewing resources about feedback practice.
done We shared information about our current feedback practices.
  • How is your organization using feedback from the people you serve?

    To identify and remedy poor client service experiences, To identify bright spots and enhance positive service experiences, To make fundamental changes to our programs and/or operations, To inform the development of new programs/projects, To identify where we are less inclusive or equitable across demographic groups, To strengthen relationships with the people we serve, To understand people's needs and how we can help them achieve their goals

  • Which of the following feedback practices does your organization routinely carry out?

    We collect feedback from the people we serve at least annually, We take steps to get feedback from marginalized or under-represented people, We aim to collect feedback from as many people we serve as possible, We take steps to ensure people feel comfortable being honest with us, We look for patterns in feedback based on demographics (e.g., race, age, gender, etc.), We look for patterns in feedback based on people’s interactions with us (e.g., site, frequency of service, etc.), We engage the people who provide feedback in looking for ways we can improve in response, We act on the feedback we receive

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?

    It is difficult to get the people we serve to respond to requests for feedback, It is difficult to find the ongoing funding to support feedback collection, Staff find it hard to prioritize feedback collection and review due to lack of time

Financials

Friends of The Water Conservation Garden
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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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Connect with nonprofit leaders

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Build relationships with key people who manage and lead nonprofit organizations with GuideStar Pro. Try a low commitment monthly plan today.

  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

Want to see how you can enhance your nonprofit research and unlock more insights? Learn More about GuideStar Pro.

Friends of The Water Conservation Garden

Board of directors
as of 01/20/2023
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Patrick Pilz

California American Water

Term: 2020 - 2025

Jan Tubiolo

Retired - Otay Water District

Chris Coughlan

Dog-Sok™

Jessica Robinson

Cuyamaca College

Liza Alia

PNC Bank

Tom Allingham

Backflow Services

Michael Hager

Retired - San Diego Natural History Museum

Cheryl Minshew

Retired - Heritage of the Americas Museum

Edward Woodruff

Retired - Elementary School VP

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Yes
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? Yes

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 1/20/2023

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? Candid partnered with CHANGE Philanthropy on this demographic section.

Leadership

The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
White/Caucasian/European
Gender identity
Female, Not transgender
Sexual orientation
Heterosexual or Straight
Disability status
Person without a disability

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity

Transgender Identity

Sexual orientation

No data

Disability

No data