Volunteer Appreciation Week 2019

Happy Volunteer Appreciation Week! ECOSLO loves our volunteers – in 2018 alone, we had nearly 2,000 volunteers involved in our programs like Coastal Cleanup Day and Seas to Trees Day, Beach Keepers cleanups, Nature Projects, and SLO Stewards docent-led hikes. We’re so grateful for everyone who’s been involved with us – whether it was for one cleanup or hike, or whether they’re out there with us every weekend getting involved, our volunteers truly do make a difference!

We wanted to highlight some special volunteers who’ve really stood out in the last year and how they’ve been involved with ECOSLO, so we asked them some questions about what fuels them and what made them want to get involved with us. Read below to learn more about these awesome volunteers!


Andrea Biniskiewicz

“There’s a positive to every situation – learn to see it! Being in the environmental realm, especially as passionate as we are, can be draining sometimes – understanding the science, results, and solutions to the issues, but there’s always a positive (and it usually starts with having amazing organizations of people to spearhead a movement!!)”

“I got involved with ECOSLO as a social media intern. My background is both in environmental science and marketing, so this was the perfect opportunity to expand skills and get involved with an organization that I truly believe shares the same values as me,” shares Andrea. Since then, her main focus has been marketing – collaborating with Mary, the Executive Director + Kayla, AmeriCorps Member, on social media strategy and campaigns, and also serves on ECOSLO’s Board of Directors.

She’s passionate about exploring the outdoors and living the good life. Reminiscing on her experiences with ECOSLO, she says her “most memorable experience volunteering with ECOSLO have been many – but I think my favorite are the meetings with Mary and Kayla when we get excited about new strategies to implement!!”

You can spot Andrea snapping pics at our ECOSLO events, but she’s mostly behind the scenes helping create all of our awesome social media and marketing materials!


Janine Butler

“Respect our Earth and own it, do something about it and don’t take it for granted”

Janine first got involved with ECOSLO by attending a cleanup out at Lopez Lake with Mary, our Executive Director, and it was one of Mary’s first events working for ECOSLO! Janine shares that Mary’s enthusiasm at this event, and the mix of people attending appealed to her and really made her want to get more involved. Janine’s mostly been focused on cleanups, being a Coastal Cleanup Day site captain at Lopez Lake, and helping with other cleanups throughout the year as well. She’s been focusing on trying to understand trash and making change with the data that we collect at our cleanups. Janine has also become a member of our Fundraising Committee!

Janine shares that she loves being outside, whether it’s hiking, biking or snow-skiing, as long as it’s something not behind a computer! She says she especially loves the atmosphere of SLO County and enjoying all of the beauty that surrounds us here. Janine says that her most memorable experience volunteering for ECOSLO was actually that first cleanup she ever participated in at Lopez Lake. She explained how it was during a drought, so volunteers were able to pull out large amounts of trash that were previously covered by water, but since the water was so low, they were able to collect hundreds of pounds of trash that day. She also mentioned that she enjoys going on the hikes with our docents – especially Seth! Janine would also like to say that she’s proud how ECOSLO is making a lot of positive strides and making a name for itself. She especially wanted to point out that Mary (our Executive Director) has made a big difference in this, and that she has the right personality to rally the troops and truly makes you want to help and get involved.

You can meet Janine at Creek to Coast Cleanup as a site captain or at our fundraiser event in August!


Seth Souza

“Enjoy every day, leave it better than you found it and make others smile. If we could all be 10% better, just imagine.”

Seth got involved with ECOSLO in 2013 as an ECOSLO docent. Although he didn’t have prior experience, he did “love to get people outside, checking out new trails and to pick up trash wherever I go.” Since joining as a docent, he’s led at least one hike a month over the last six years, sharing “I wish I could do more, but I’m learning this thing called balance since I have five jobs and volunteer for three agencies.” Seth’s focus at ECOSLO has been to get people out, to new trails that are not highly exposed or used here. Seth shares, “I love to get kids outside and on the trails; I think this is crucial to form that passion at a young age with the outdoors. When I was young my mom got me in the Audubon Club, we would hike to places and check out birds. Over the younger years we did lots of hikes and it has stuck with me ever since.”

Seth shares many of his favorite memories volunteering with ECOSLO, from the first hike out the Waddell Ranch on Irish Hills, to presenting to the Cal Poly WOW groups about trails and education, and even leading a Boy Scouts group on a hike once. Seth is passionate about being outside as much as possible; as he does not sit still for long. He enjoys hiking, backpacking, mountain biking, IPA’s, capturing nature photography, making people smile, and so much more!

When asked what he’d like to share with others, he stated, “I use “committed or interested,” “lost time is never found again,” “respond don’t react,” “if you fell down yesterday, stand up today,” and “if not now, when?” Those are a few of the sayings that I use daily, some I am better at than others, but I am still learning every day.”

You can check Seth out on Instagram @Adventureswithseth or sign up to join him on a SLO Stewards Docent-led hike!


Lauren Callahan

“Each individual person has the power of participating in the transformation of the whole Earth. The evil that reaches you after so many millions of years of existence can be absorbed and transformed. You have the power to accept the suffering, to refuse to pass it on to another, to forgive, to end the needless torment, and, most of all, to transmute evil into energy for the vitality of the whole.” – A favorite quote of Lauren’s from “The Universe is a Green Dragon” by Brian Swimme

Lauren moved from Boston, MA to SLO in 2017 and says, “I really didn’t know anyone at the time. Truthfully, I had not done much volunteer work and wanted to change that. I was really drawn to ECOSLO and its volunteer opportunities. Along with giving back, I was hoping to meet people, but I did not expect to meet and befriend some of the most amazing people I’ve come across while living here. I found out you can volunteer in a lot of ways and contributing my art has been an incredible opportunity.”

Lauren mentions that ECOSLO really has drastically shaped her experience in SLO. “Between acquiring an incredible friendship, helping out at events, participating at cleanups, and being able to create artwork in order to promote events, volunteering at ECOSLO as a whole has been an amazingly memorable experience in itself,” she shared. 

Lauren has been the fabulous artist behind our Seas to Trees poster the past two years! You can see her artwork on Instagram at @lcalicreative, and you can find Lauren either at a volunteer creek cleanup, or at other ECOSLO events throughout the year!



Thank you again to all of these incredible volunteers! The work ECOSLO does is in large part because of your dedication and passion, and we’re forever grateful. If you’re interested in becoming  a volunteer for ECOSLO, please reach out! No matter what skills you have, we can find a great way for you to fit into the team. Visit www.ecoslo.org/volunteer to learn more!