SANTA CRUZ >> For his work creating an online hub of local environmental organizations, news, volunteer opportunities and events, Andy Carman, founder and director of Environteers, was selected as a finalist in the Sentinel’s Santa Cruz County Heroes.

In August, the Santa Cruz Sentinel asked readers to nominate engaged community members for our first Santa Cruz County Hero feature. Carman was nominated for, “his tremendous job both informing Santa Cruz residents of their power to be helpful with environmental issues and breaking down important sustainability news stories and making them digestible and interesting.”

Carman, a psychologist by trade, got the seed for the idea that would sprout into Environteers years ago while searching online for volunteering opportunities related to reforestation in Santa Cruz County.

“I looked around and found so many organizations,” said Carman. “Not to say that there’s too many, but I saw that there wasn’t a forum or hub promoting all the organizations where people could go and find out what opportunities are available.”

With that in mind, he began researching what it would take to create a website that listed all of the local volunteering opportunities and environmental organizations in the county, which he thought at first to be around 30.

“Now there’s 104 environmental entities listed between the nonprofits, parks, museums and agencies,” said Carman. “A goodly number of them have volunteer opportunities or at least educational activities.”

Creating a website from scratch wasn’t easy for Carman, who had little computer expertise going into the project, but he educated himself and got a little help from his former wife Bonno Bernard, who has experience with web design.

“I had zero technical skill,” said Carman. “I had a lot to learn about how to maintain a website and more later when I created the newsletter about five years ago, but as far as the community goes, there have been no challenges because I am coming to these organizations and offering to promote their activities for free. I get very good reception there.”

Initially getting the word out about Environteers was also a challenge for Carman, but traffic to the website has grown gradually since he launched the site in 2016 and later when he started offering a weekly email newsletter. Carman started with about 300 subscribers and that number has grown to about 1,200 subscribers.

“It’s really gratifying to see how many people want to stay informed and want to be in action,” said Carman.

Carman doesn’t do it all alone however. His partner Terry Grove helps with many administrative and organizational aspects of Environteers. Bernard still helps him with website issues, graphic design and brand development and career consultant David Thiermann, helps Carman maintain and expand the vision for Environteers.

Running the website has also pushed Carman to learn new skills and connect with people that he may never have spoken with as a mild-mannered psychologist.

“I haven’t traditionally been outgoing, but doing this has helped me grow and really prioritize connecting with a broad range of people” said Carman. “As a psychologist with a private practice, there’s very little collaboration, so this is good for me.”

Carman pointed out that with pervasive plastic pollution, climate change and extreme weather events, thinking about environmental issues on a broad scale can be daunting and might make some people think that trying to remedy the situation is futile. He said that although one person may not make a substantial difference, teams of people can and do.

“There’s a great impact when there’s 20 people aligned on something and it’s the same thing with the climate,” said Carman. “We can feel small, like what difference can I make? It’s stressful when you think as an individual level, but it’s empowering and reassuring to be on a team, because you see other people who care, and you see that your team can make a big impact.”

Because of the scary and immediate nature of environmental issues, Carman has dedicated part of the Environteers website entirely to good news.

“There’s the feeling of hope and then there’s the evidence that teams can make a difference,” said Carman. “I hope people warm up to this idea that saving species, including humans, is going to take a lot more involvement and it can include you and me.”

For environmental news and local volunteering opportunities, visit