By Donna Starr
Small non-profit groups like the Bolsa Chica Conservancy (BCC) depend highly on their community of volunteers and partners. One such partnership that shines brightly is with the alliance between the BCC and AES Huntington Beach. Led by their President , Weikko Wirta, AES has helped fuel many BCC programs that have far reaching and long lasting effects on the health of the Bolsa Chica wetlands and our community.
Weikko Wirta has combined his own values with the AES philosophy of being a good neighbor, excellent corporate citizen and being supportive of local efforts. These values have allowed the BCC to implement important educational and environmental programs. As an example, AES funded tablets that students use with hand held microscopes to view, identify and classify plankton while learning about their role in our environment. Kids become awe struck watching single cell organisms move around a slide as if it were a Minecraft Adventure.
Taking corporate responsibility to the next level, Weikko was the guiding light leading 60 AES corporate globlal leaders at Rabbit Island to pull invasive ice plant. Rabbit Island is home to a historic dune community at Bolsa Chica that provides breeding for the endangered, Belding’s Savannah Sparrow, as well as home to rare plant species like the Coast Woolly Heads and the Estuary Sea-blite. Weikko and his volunteers cleared and collected over 1,000 pounds leaving a ground area where the birds can forage for seeds and insects. No better diet than beetles, flies and spiders to set the mood.
AES has been a beacon for the BCC on many projects. AES supports the BCC by helping maintain it’s fleet of restoration and service vehicles, including a soon-to-be launched travelling education program. They’ve provided the electricity for fundraisers on the beach, helped with environmental reviews, and they’ve already committed to helping in the future with solar panel designs when we build our Coastal Ecology Center.
In addition to the habitat and future generations, the staff and volunteers at the BCC are very grateful to Weikko and AES. We are honored that there is such a connection to the BCC in efforts to promote education and restoration of the Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve. AES definitely serves as a positive conduit to conservation and community engagement.