Catalina Island is home to an array of species found nowhere else on earth. Island ecosystems foster isolation, which in turn fosters specialization. Catalina Island Mahogany, St. Catherine’s Lace and Santa Catalina Island Ironwood are just a few of the seven endemic species that are found only on Santa Catalina Island.
Preserving and protecting those species is just part of the mission of the Catalina Island Conservancy, which is also charged with preserving the island’s entire ecosystem in perpetuity, as well as fostering education and recreation. Much of the Conservancy’s work happens in the interior of the island – and when it comes to plants that work happens at Middle Ranch, at the Ackerman Native Plant Nursery. A mecca for amateur and professional botanists alike, the Ackerman Native Plant Nursery is a wonderland of germination and propagation.
Most of the time, the nursery is the haunt of the Conservancy’s most senior botanists, but on Thursday mornings volunteers are welcome. Thursdays at the Nursery is one of many ways the Conservancy shares its important work with the general public. The days start early – at 7:15 – but volunteers get to enjoy a day in Catalina Island’s interior with the satisfaction of knowing they’ve contributed to the preservation of an island that means so much to so many. For more information about volunteering, visit the Catalina Island Conservancy website.