PLATINUM2024

Nature Collective

Connect. Experience. Protect.

aka San Elijo Lagoon Conservancy   |   Encinitas, CA   |  www.naturecollective.org

Mission

We exist to drive a passion for nature, for all. We envision a world where everyone connects with, experiences, and protects nature. We want our places and events to offer every human an experience and deep connection with the living world. We think inclusively and diversely when serving those growing up devoid of nature, those longing to reconnect, and those who already prioritize their relationship with nature.

Notes from the nonprofit

Present in our 4th decade, Nature Collective inspires conservation across San Diego and beyond. With the help of remarkable supporters like you, we connect lands and hiking trails, provide experiences for people to fall in love with nature, and protect the beauty around us. We are a nonprofit that offers engaging events for one and all, while stewarding lands like the San Elijo Lagoon, which has resulted in one of the largest wetland restoration projects in California. Nature Collective is a professional organization you can trust. We deliver results rooted in science to make a lasting difference in saving native habitats and biodiversity. With a successful track record since 1987, we are committed to achieving even bigger milestones in conservation and education with long-term impact.

Ruling year info

1993

Executive Director

Mr. Doug Gibson

Main address

Mailing Address PO Box 230634

Encinitas, CA 92023 USA

Show more contact info

Formerly known as

San Elijo Lagoon Conservancy

EIN

33-0358660

NTEE code info

Water Resource, Wetlands Conservation and Management (C32)

IRS filing requirement

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

Sign in or create an account to view Form(s) 990 for 2022, 2021 and 2020.
Register now

Communication

Blog

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Founded in 1987, Nature Collective works to restore habitat, providing healthier waters and greater wildlife diversity. We educate future generations to become aware of, appreciate, and act to protect the natural environments and watersheds surrounding them. We think inclusively and diversely when serving those growing up devoid of nature, those longing to reconnect, and those already prioritizing their relationship with nature. For over 35 years, we have grown to serve San Diego and beyond, with 185,157 visitors hiking Annie's Canyon Trail annually. We support our community's environmental protection needs, help maintain ecosystem balance by expanding our conservation actions of restoration and invasive species control, and improve human health by providing open space to improve physical, mental, and emotional health. Research has repeatedly demonstrated that people who spend time in nature are "smarter, healthier, and happier".

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?

Conservation | Scientific Monitoring

Nature Collective manages large-scale habitat restoration that includes the removal of invasive plants and indigenous plant re-vegetation activities throughout San Diego County.

Our onsite Native Plant Nursery ensures that we preserve the genetic integrity of the plants uniquely thriving in San Diego County habitats. By sourcing seeds and replanting species indigenous to the area.

Nature Collective monitors ecosystem health and function indicators in San Elijo Lagoon Ecological Reserve and in lands and waters beyond.

Monitoring activities include surveys of the conditions of plant communities, wildlife populations, water quality, and hydrologic changes in the San Elijo Lagoon Ecological Reserve. Data is shared with regional and state agencies for watershed monitoring.

Our work also includes ensuring that the San Elijo Lagoon tidal inlet at Cardiff State Beach remains open.

Population(s) Served
Adults
Children and youth

As schools rise to meet the state's Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) requirements they seek relevant learning experiences for their students outside of the classroom. To meet this need, we partner with San Diego County school districts to provide inquiry- and nature-based learning opportunities to students and their teachers. We provide complete NGSS-aligned environmental science learning units combining nature-based, in-class, and at-home lesson components. The unit lessons scaffold student learning and experiences towards a culminating conservation action project that challenges students to apply their knowledge to identify and solve a local environmental issue.

Our objectives include serving students with equitable and inclusive experiences, fulfilling science curriculum requirements, emphasizing learning in a nature-based setting, and facilitating field trips for students to experience and learn in a unique natural environment.

Population(s) Served
Children and youth
Teachers

Conserving open space by acquiring land that provides rare habitat and wildlife connectivity corridors is one of our key priorities. The greatest threat to the diversity of life is the loss of habitat. As a land trust, we acquire and protect lands in San Diego County, including our Harbaugh Seaside Trails lands that opened to the public in early 2020; and our newest Fields of the Future endeavor that protects coastal land, provides learning experiences without walls and integrates art in connecting more people with nature.

Nature Collective owns lands and holds conservation easements on private and public property. Landowners who want to ensure their land is protected for generations can contact Nature Collective about ways we can help connect conservation goals.

Population(s) Served

San Elijo Lagoon Restoration Project addresses our future conditions. Nature Collective acted to leave the stepping stones for current and future species by restoring the San Elijo Lagoon for enhanced water flow and anticipated sea level rise. This $120-million project is one of California's most extensive wetland restorations.

In partnership with the Build North Coast Corridor program of transportation and environmental enhancements, Nature Collective guided this large-scale project from 2017 to its completion in June 2022.

With restoration complete, we are focused on monitoring now and through the next 50 years, ensuring that what we designed works as the sea level rises and our climate changes. Tidal flow is improving, enhanced wetland habitats are thriving, new mudflats provide a variety of food for resident and migratory birds along the Pacific Flyway, and new trail connections benefit nature and the community!

Population(s) Served

Where we work

Awards

E.A.R.T.H. Award 1999

San Diego Earth Works

David Gaines Award 2000

Planning and Conservation League

Environmental Leadership 2001

Solana Recyclers

Together Green Award 2009

National Audubon Society

First Place: Cox Conserves Heroes 2011

Cox Communications

Eco-Ambassadors Finalist 2011

SDG&E and CBS Earth8

E.A.R.T.H. Award 2011

San Diego Earthworks

Denise Stillinger Day (Board President) 2012

County Supervisor Pam Slater-Price

San Diego Coastkeeper: WaterWise Award 2013

Environmental Initiative

Southern CA Wetlands Recovery Project: Stewardship Excellence Award 2015

Environmental Initiative

North County Philanthropy Council: Sally Foster 2015

Community Service Award

North County Philanthropy Council: Nicolle Selby-Thomas 2016

Community Service Award

Doug Gibson Day (Encinitas, Solana Beach, District III) 2016

Mayor's Proclamations

Outdoor Outreach Lead the Way Award, Doug Gibson, Runner Up 2016

Outstanding Recognition

Parks & Recreation: Community Team Member, Elayna Flanders 2017

County of San Diego

Parks & Recreation: Champion Award to Barbara Wallach, Conservancy Naturalist 2017

County of San Diego

Senator Patricia Bates issues proclamation for Conservancy protection and restoration of lands and waters 2017

California Senate Award

2017 John Muir Environmental Education Conservation Award for Tara Fuad, Education Dr. 2018

Environmental Initiative

Encinitas Excellence in Environmental Stewardship Award 2018

City of Encinitas

Best Restored West Coast Beach Award - Cardiff, CA - for Beach Sand Replenishment 2018

American Shore & Beach Preservation Association

Excellence in Public Lands Partnership 2019

Public Lands Alliance

San Elijo Lagoon Restoration Project of the Year 2021

American Public Works Association

San Elijo Lagoon Restoration Project in the Climate Action Categoyn | 2023

California Transportation Foundatoin

San Elijo Lagoon Restoration Outstanding Project of the Year 2023

American Society of Civil Engineers

Affiliations & memberships

Land Trust Alliance 1990

California Department of Fish and Wildlife 2009

San Diego County Parks and Recreation 2009

Encinitas Chamber of Commerce 2013

Solana Beach Chamber of Commerce 2013

North County Philanthropy Council 2013

Nonprofit Solutions 2013

Charity Navigator 2018

CFRE International 2020

Reflecting on Practice 2021

Our results

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

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

Total number of visits to our trails

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

Our Lands

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Total number of birds monitored

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

Conservation | Scientific Monitoring

Type of Metric

Context - describing the issue we work on

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

During monthly bird counts.

Total number of bird species observed

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

Conservation | Scientific Monitoring

Type of Metric

Context - describing the issue we work on

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

During monthly bird counts.

Total number of watersheds in San Diego County that we protect

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

Conservation | Scientific Monitoring

Type of Metric

Context - describing the issue we work on

Direction of Success

Holding steady

Total number of acres protected for wildlife habitat

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

Conservation | Scientific Monitoring

Type of Metric

Context - describing the issue we work on

Direction of Success

Increasing

Total number of students + adults served via education outreach initiatives

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

Science Education

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

Includes our next-generation science standard aligned Learning Units, Get Out In Nature (GOIN), Pollinator + Indigenous Plant School Gardens, and volunteer and outreach events.

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.

Our three-pillar approach is the foundation of everything we do. Through our clearly defined Mission Advancement and Leadership pillars, we’ve created an organizational plan focused on: our mission to drive a passion for nature for all and our vision of a world where everyone is passionate about connecting with, experiencing, and protecting nature.

Mission Advancement Three Pillar Approach

Pillar 1 | Experiences
From field trips and virtual engagement to in-person tours and events, offer an array of activities to enjoy with a community and trails where one can go solo and enjoy the peace.

Pillar 2 | Conservation
We work to conserve our lands. We know the importance of opening the lagoon to the ocean, restoring indigenous habitat, and more.

Pillar 3 | Consultancy

Over 20 years of experience with the San Elijo Lagoon Restoration + mitigation site projects give
Nature Collective a unique ability to provide consulting services in watershed restoration or
conservation projects.


Pillar 1 | Experiences

1. Provide fun, engaging, and memorable educational activities to drive curiosity and interest in nature for
all.
2. Expand open space by acquiring land and easements that allow all people to experience nature.
3. Create solutions to welcome more people into our lands.
4. Integrate art and other creative elements into our trail that create an experience within the experience.
5. Create new experiences that give people more ways to reconnect to fall in love with nature.

Pillar 2 | Conservation

1. Restore and monitor San Elijo Lagoon and beyond to provide healthier waters, greater wildlife diversity, and improved habitat connectivity.
2. Restore indigenous vegetation at San Elijo Lagoon and beyond to enhance connected ecosystems to increase the abundance and diversity of species that are important habitats for wildlife.
3. Achieve critical coastal agricultural land objectives outlined in the Coastal
Development Permit was issued to Caltrans for the Segment 1 Interstate 5 development providing the
community with environmental education and an indigenous plant garden.

Pillar 3 | Consultancy

Over 20 years of experience with the San Elijo Lagoon Restoration + mitigation site projects give
Nature Collective a unique ability to provide consulting services in watershed restoration or
conservation projects.

1. Share our watershed and conservation project expertise with nonprofits, government
agencies, businesses, and homeowners. Offer consultation services to organizations and individuals
that align with our mission and vision by sharing our competencies and capabilities while
diversifying our business
relationships.

Our new brand Nature Collective was unveiled in the spring of 2019. This bold transition embraces a view of everyone in nature and our 5-year Strategic Plan that our Board developed. The plan, and our new name, establish direction, set measurable objectives and timelines, and challenge the whole of the organization to strengthen our role as protectors of nature, builders of community, and fiduciaries to those who invest in our mission.

Nature Collective is a professional organization you can trust. We deliver tangible results rooted in science and big enough to make a lasting difference. We have a 35+ year record of successful environmental stewardship and continue to strive for even bigger milestones in conservation. Our regional and national funding partners help to ensure we have the resources and tools to increase our outreach in local schools nearby and upstream.

We successfully completed Revive Your wetlands: San Elijo Lagoon Restoration in June 2022. This comprehensive habitat enhancement project was one of the largest wetland restoration projects in California. Our focus is to now provide leadership and accountability in continuous water quality and wildlife monitoring for the next 50 years. We are the team that is monitoring the health of your biodiverse wetland.

Since 1987, Nature Collective has strategically invested member, donor, and grant funding into core areas, such as conservation, monitoring, and education programs, projects, and services.

Pillar I | Experiences: With diverse initiatives, including our next-generation science standard aligned Learning Units, Get Out In Nature (GOIN), Pollinator + Indigenous Plant School Gardens, and volunteer and outreach events, we connected students and families to nature.

Pillar 2 | Conservation: Our habitat restoration efforts are going strong. We are planting native shrubs and trees throughout various restoration sites in San Diego County. These plants provide critical habitat for species facing extinction, like the Least Bell's Vireo and the California Gnatcatcher.

Additionally, we completed a new vegetation community survey. We surveyed acres of land in San Elijo Lagoon and Escondido Creek, identified features, documented vegetation communities, and recorded association types.

Recently, we successfully concluded the San Elijo Lagoon restoration project, one of California's most extensive wetland restorations. Our San Elijo Lagoon Restoration project included creating new mudflats and dredging the channels of San Elijo Lagoon to provide increased tidal circulation, a natural process that modern infrastructure had nearly halted. But wider bridge spans, and enhanced tidal channels, are now delivering tidal flow farther and deeper into San Elijo Lagoon.

With restoration complete, we are focused on monitoring now and through the next 50 years to ensure that what we designed works as the sea level rises and our climate changes.

We are measuring the success of the restoration project in two broad categories. First, the project caused no adverse environmental impacts, and second, the project measurably improved the San Elijo Lagoon wetland ecosystem. We have many specific monitoring requirements that help us determine if the project meets these two criteria for success.

We look at the project as taking place in two general areas. First, the wetland itself and second, the local coastal marine environment where the project provided beach replenishment sand.

We are monitoring 13 key variables within the wetland to ensure the project caused no adverse impacts and improved the wetland ecosystem. To do this, we compare measurements we take within San Elijo Lagoon today to measurements taken in San Elijo Lagoon before the project began. We also compare San Elijo Lagoon measurements to those at three other reference wetlands in Southern California. Independent experts chose these other wetlands as the best indicator wetlands in Southern California. Learn more about our monitoring, including our most recent report and presentation. Visit www.naturecollective.org/project/san-Elijo-lagoon-restoration.

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 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 act on the feedback we receive

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?

    We don't have any major challenges to collecting feedback

Financials

Nature Collective
lock

Unlock financial insights by subscribing to our monthly plan.

Subscribe

Unlock nonprofit financial insights that will help you make more informed decisions. Try our 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.

Operations

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

lock

Connect with nonprofit leaders

Subscribe

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.

lock

Connect with nonprofit leaders

Subscribe

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.

Nature Collective

Board of directors
as of 01/18/2024
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Michael Lea, PhD

Paul Worthington

Seacoast Exclusive Properties

Anita Hayworth, PhD

Retired, Dudek

Kevin K. Johnson, Esq.

Michael Lea, PhD

Academic + Financial Services Executive, Retired

John Osborne

ATT, Retired

John Helmer

Owner + Principal, Quercus Land Use Planning

Ingrid Flores, PhD

Associate Professor in Science Education at California State University San Marcos

Nathalie Hall, Esq.

Founder of NBDH Law

Jason R. Schingler, Esq.

Founder of Schingler Law

Kendra J Muller, Esq.

Disability Rights California

Gabriela B Love

School Relations & Diversity Outreach Specialist at MiraCosta College

Abigail Vickers

Robert J Harman, Inc.

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? No

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 1/8/2024

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
Male, Not transgender
Sexual orientation
Heterosexual or Straight
Disability status
Person without a disability

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity

Transgender Identity

Sexual orientation

Disability

Equity strategies

Last updated: 11/15/2023

GuideStar partnered with Equity in the Center - an organization that works to shift mindsets, practices, and systems to increase racial equity - to create this section. Learn more

Policies and processes
  • We use a vetting process to identify vendors and partners that share our commitment to race equity.
  • We seek individuals from various race backgrounds for board and executive director/CEO positions within our organization.
  • We have community representation at the board level, either on the board itself or through a community advisory board.
  • We help senior leadership understand how to be inclusive leaders with learning approaches that emphasize reflection, iteration, and adaptability.