Ecology

Our 135-acre campus is an incredible training ground for ecological awareness and learning. With our eucalyptus-lined streams, gardens, greenhouses, lake, farm, and abundance of greenery, Mills community members have the opportunity to help protect and maintain the environment firsthand.  

What We're Doing

At Mills, we see the campus as an ecosystem. Some of our key ecological initiatives are listed below.

Botanic Garden

The Mills College Botanic Garden has a plant collection that includes a number of California native plants, succulents, ferns, and healing plants used mainly for lecture/lab studies, but also for more specific student projects. The Botanic Garden is also home to the Gaia House, which supports the Restoration Ecology Program, field study research, workshops, and community gatherings. The building reflects a number of earth-friendly features, such as passive ventilation, natural lighting, and a bio-swale to filter runoff. 

Creek Habitat Restoration

Two sites along Leona Creek, which runs through the Mills campus, have been targeted as priority areas for native habitat restoration. California Bay Laurel, Toyon, California Buckeye, and more have been planted and maintained at these two sites at weekly Creek Care Days. Mills community members are invited to volunteer at these special events. 

Green Screen

A variety of native, drought-tolerant plants have been planted along the fence bordering Mills College and MacArthur Boulevard and are tended to by Mills students, faculty, and staff. This "green screen" provides improved air quality for campus grounds in proximity to MacArthur Boulevard traffic.

Healing Plant Tour

The Mills Healing Plant Tour was designed to bring awareness to the Mills community of the presence of primarily native but also non-native medicinal plants on campus and how they have been used over time. The self-guided tour consists of a map and corresponding signage throughout the campus. Each plaque features a photograph of the plant along with its scientific and common names, medicinal and non-medicinal uses and various cultures and places throughout the world where the plant or similar plants exist. Read about the creation and history of the Healing Plant Tour.

What You Can Do

  • Volunteer at Creek Care Days.
  • Volunteer at the Botanic Garden with the Garden Club.
  • Grow native, drought-tolerant plants. The California Native Plant Society has a list of local nurseries you can buy native plants from, and the EPA has an inventory of native, drought-tolerant plants.