Regeneración-Pajaro Valley Climate Action finished runner-up in the American Climate Leadership awards. — contributed

Regeneración-Pajaro Valley Climate Action on March 25 was awarded a $25,000 grant for finishing runner-up in the American Climate Leadership Awards.

Nonprofit Executive Director Nancy Faulstich and a group of delegates were set to travel to Washington D.C. for the awards ceremony but instead attended virtually from their shelter-in-place residences on the Central Coast.

Faulstich gave thanks to her local elected officials and activists for prioritizing climate action. She also acknowledged her growing web of donors and supporters, including parents, students, farmworkers, teachers and business owners.

“It is a great honor, and an enormous gift to us and to our Pajaro Valley community, to receive this award in a time of crisis… Pandemics like COVID-19 have been predicted by scientists as one of the results of a warming world,” she said. “We’re getting a stark preview of the enormous costs and tremendous disruption of escalating climate impacts.”

Roughly 200 organizations applied for the awards coordinated by ecoAmerica. That field was narrowed to 34 semifinalists and again to 10 finalists

Finalists included a handful of national movements such as the Future Coalition, which coordinated the U.S. Youth Climate Strike Coalition, the group of nine national climate organizations that led the Fridays for the Future climate strikes in the U.S.

CALPIRG took first place and the $50,000 grant that came with the honor. That group unified roughly 238,000 students from 10 University of California campuses in a campaign for a system-wide commitment to use 100 percent renewable electricity by 2025.

Regeneración for the ceremony unveiled a video featuring Watsonville City Councilman and nonprofit board member Francisco “Paco” Estrada, who said without the organization’s efforts the city’s large farmworker community would remain “unrepresented in local response efforts.”

“We are building an inclusive and inspirational climate justice movement that’s relevant to our area,” Estrada said. “Regeneración’s success can serve as a model for the nation.”

Regeneración was founded in 2016. Over its first four years it has helped spread awareness about small everyday actions that residents can take to fight climate change, such as eating more plant-based and locally-grown foods and reducing car travel.

Its community survey in 2018 shone a light on how climate change—especially warmer summer and fall weather—is disproportionately affecting the poorest of the poor in the Pajaro Valley. The organization followed up that survey with another that is currently underway. 

This time Regeneración is asking farmers in the Pajaro Valley how changing weather patterns are affecting their crops. They hope to form a more complete representation of the agriculture-rich region with this undertaking.

For information on Regeneración visit

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Tony Nuñez is a longtime member of the Watsonville community who served as Sports Editor of The Pajaronian for five years and three years as Managing Editor. He is a Watsonville High, Cabrillo College and San Jose State University alumnus.


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