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The 10-acre plot occupied by MEarth is adja- cent to Carmel Middle School, and although the two entities are closely tied, the nonprofit func- tions as a separate entity. And it traces its origins to a teacher at that school, Craig Hohenberger. "I am essentially a biologist and a teacher at heart," Hohenberger says. "When I came to Carmel Middle after working as a biolo- gist/ornithologist in various locations, I wanted to give the students some of my insights, knowl- edge and catalyze some of the excitement that I had experienced." H e had his eye on that plot next to the school, then in use as a Christmas tree farm. After some finagling, Hohenberger won permis- s ion to begin work on a Habitat Project. "My original idea was to create a program as diverse as possible, so as to attract students of a ll ages with many interests and background." A grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation funded construction of a natural pond to attract birds and insects. Hohenberger arranged for a building to be transported to the property from the former Fort Ord and built an amphitheater and started on the gardens. "One of my passions is birds, so to get the students excited, I started a bird banding pro- gram which allowed all students to capture and release birds at the Habitat. In addition, we put in a greenhouse, so we could propagate, grow, and out-plant native plants at the Habitat and in the community." "Craig's vision was to plant native plants, which he knew would bring back birds, bunnies, lizards—all the fauna that would naturally occur here," Roos says. By any measure, he succeeded. "As a scientist by nature, he started taking baseline measurements," Roos explains. "When he began in 1999, Hohenberger counted 50 Left: Executive Director Tanja Roos is proudly carrying on Hohenberger's work and vision—and taking it to a new level. Right: MEarth was initially conceived by now-retired Carmel Middle School teacher Craig Hohenberger. He raised hundreds of thousands of dollars in grant money. 232 C A R M E L M A G A Z I N E • S U M M E R / F A L L 2 0 1 6 Photo: Eric Wolfinger Photo: Kristin Adams

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