CARLSBAD — Over the past eight years, the Agua Hedionda Lagoon Foundation has become a force.
From fighting to protect its unique ecosystem and watershed to educational programs, the nonprofit has been a stalwart in environmental issues under the leadership of Lisa Rodman of Carlsbad.
She was honored for her efforts by Sen. Pat Bates (R-Laguna Niguel) as the 36th District’s Woman of the Year on March 4 at a ceremony in Sacramento. Also, Assemblywoman Tasha Boerner Horvath awarded Vista Councilwoman Corrine Contreras as the 76th District’s Woman of the Year. Rodman was joined in Sacramento with her family.
“It was quite an honor,” Rodman said. “It was a lovely luncheon. It was a lot. There were so many amazing people that did amazing, deserving things for their awards. It was very humbling to be included among them.”
Bates said she chose Rodman for her efforts in coastal issues, protecting the lagoon, championing environmental causes including climate change. Bates noted Rodman’s broad resume and saw an individual who fit in line with Bates’ theme of individuals making difference for the environment.
“The coastal issues for the environment were very significant with climate change and all that,” Bates said. “I just thought this would be a good year to focus on people who have contributed to environmental issues and certainly ocean protection and climate change. I thought she was excellent.”
Since taking over as chief executive officer, Rodman has spearheaded efforts to increase the foundation’s visibility and community engagement. Prior to her arrival, the foundation had about 90 children engaged with educational programs.
Now, the number has swelled to more than 8,500 per year with programs in 53 schools and 11 school districts.
In total, the nonprofit serves more than 25,000 people per year and two years ago was named the No. 1 public nature center in the state by Best Things California.
Additionally, the foundation also was one of the first to incorporate soil solarization to kill non-native invasive plant species, specifically sea lavender, around the lagoon. The method eliminates the need for chemical-based pesticides, which can cause damage to native species and the watershed via runoff.
“We’ve had quite a journey connecting the community here,” Rodman said. “Our environmental stewardship field trip is our keystone here. It definitely sets us apart from other lagoons. I’m a lifelong learner … and the more people understand the better off we are at them doing the right, responsible thing with as something as precious as this lagoon and watershed.”
In addition to her work with the foundation, Rodman is also the fund development chair of Hospice of the North Coast board of directors, a member of North County Philanthropic Council Programs Committee, and a member of Oceanside-Carlsbad Soroptimist. She is also a past president of Carlsbad Hi-Noon Rotary and current member, past co-chair for the Carlsbad Chamber of Commerce Green Business Committee, past Carlsbad Planning Commissioner and served 12 years as a Carlsbad Unified School District School board trustee.