Students of the Month

March, 2013
Associated Earth Team Programs:
Restoration Action Project

Adreonna Blackmon

Skyline High School

EarthTeam's Student of the Month is Adreonna Blackmon of Skyline High's Environmental Justice League, an after-school group that's adopted a space of Redwoods on campus to help restore! Adreonna has demonstrated unusual, quiet dedication and enthusiasm for the project. Adreonna is very observant of her surroundings, noting different crow calls and meeting behaviors, wasps nests, and other natural occurrences on campus, even before joining the program. Her artistic talent birthed our new logo, and her research skills have launched a plan for two bird nesting boxes to be built and installed on site. She does not hesitate to volunteer for research projects that ask her time outside of our after-school meetings. We are so honored to have her in the League!

From Adreonna, " The reason why I joined Environmental Justice League is because I wanted to do something for my school before I graduated, also by joining EJL it would bring me a step closer to additional knowledge and understanding of different types of species. I'm passionate about learning, studying, and working on fieldwork with many types of specimens as well as discover new things with other people."

February, 2013
Associated Earth Team Programs:
Restoration Action Project

Joseph Marcelino

Richmond High School

This is Joseph's third year in the Aqua Team, with the unofficial titles of "snake-handler" and "ground-breaker." With a near-perfect attendance record for the Aqua Team (okay, he missed a Saturday outing because he was visiting a prospective college), Joseph's presence during monthly outings has steadily increased from his first few months. He started as a shy brother who joined the Aqua Team group with his older sister. He's relocated snakes whose homes were disturbed during restoration activities, and he wailed on tough, rocky clay with a pulaski to help plant a tree. Joseph has volunteered on several occasions to be the photographer of the day. EarthTeam's Restoration Director, Chiara, is thrilled to have Joseph on board again this year, and looks forward to his fire-tending skills at the May Aqua Team camping trip! He also made her cry at EarthTeam's Golf Tournament last year with his surprising, kind words about his time with the Aqua Team.

According to Joseph, "To me Aqua Team is an amazing program that enables me to become active in my community. Through my four years of participation in it I have learned many things such as weeding, planting, mulching, trash assessment, etc. I have [met] many people and made friends along the way. I highly recommend anyone who is interested with their community or the environment to join this program which I have enjoyed dearly."

January, 2013
Associated Earth Team Programs:
Restoration Action Project

Kateline Barrieau

Skyline HIgh School

EarthTeam's Student of the Month is Kateline Barrieau, a senior at Skyline High School and a member of the Environmental Justice League. Katelin has demonstrated a fantastic attitude about her responsibilities within the Environmental Justice League, constantly volunteering to take on tasks outside of our meeting times that are instrumental in moving the restoration project forward. She's also constantly asking about additional volunteer opportunities to enrich her environmental education in both the realms of restoration and agriculture. EarthTeam is thrilled to have her on board at Skyline!

"I joined the Environmental Justice League because I'm always looking for new and interesting ways to support the growth of environment and to be apart of the fight against the declining ecosystem of Red Woods. The ELJ gave such a unique opportunity to do so while furthering my education on the subject in a very fun way! I love how hands on this program is with allowing you to physically revive the environment by planting native plants, removing invasive ones and continuously taking care of the landscape, all with fun people included! I recommend anyone who already isn't apart of The Environmental Justice League to come check out one of our after school sessions and volunteer your time to a good cause, you won't regret it!" -- Kateline

December, 2012
Associated Earth Team Programs:
Restoration Action Project

Gabriella Greene-Dittz

Skyline High School

"I joined [EarthTeam] to have an experience close to what I am going to study in college, environmental science, and also to get to be outside more often. What I hope to get out of this program is more knowledge about restoration and some job experience for later in life. What I want to accomplish through EJL is getting to be unrestrained in my ideas of how to save the environment." --Gabby

EarthTeam's student of the month for December is Gabriella Greene-Dittz, a senior at Skyline High School. Gabby is an intern at Skyline's Schoolyard Restoration Project. Gabby has had flawless attendance at all internship meetings and is a vocal contributor to brainstorming sessions for the group's redwood habitat restoration site on campus. Most recently, she researched and conducted a presentation on the Peace on Earthbench Movement, an organization that teaches the public to build bottle bricks from plastic trash and create structures like benches, chairs, etc. from cob and bottle bricks. She hopes to start momentum on campus to build bottle bricks and create a bench for the restoration space.

November, 2012
Associated Earth Team Programs:
Restoration Action Project

Yi Shi

Skyline High School

EarthTeam's Restoration Director, Chiara Swartout, has selected eleventh grader Yi Shi as EarthTeam's student of the month. Despite being offered a stipend for her time as an intern with the Schoolyard Restoration Project, Yi has declined the stipend and has offered to volunteer for the position, receiving community service credit instead. She has an incredible ability to listen intently to bird calls, hypothesizing what the birds might be communicating with each distinct vocalization. Yi's quite demeanor allows her to listen to the subtlety of these calls, and Chiara is excited to use her listening skills in bird identification around the Skyline campus!

"My part of the project is the study [of] the redwood ecosystem, and the plants and animals liv[ing] around the redwood[s]. My favorite moment so far [wa]s [the] study [of] different plants and animals [and their] ecosystem, and mak[ing] the world better by join[ing] the EarthTeam. Also, I want to learn more [about] ecosystem[s] by [being] outside [and through] the books." -Yi Shi

October, 2012
Associated Earth Team Programs:

Youth Advisory Board

De la Salle High, Irvington High, Alameda High, Mission High

The Youth Advisory Board is going to enter into its second year and we have a lot in store for the future! This year's team now consists of eleven members: Aaren, Joseph, Justin, Katie, LeAnne, Megan, Pallavi, Sohinee, and our mentors Maggie, Emily, and Ilse. We will be continuing our goal to get teens aware of what they can do for the environment as well as help out with the EarthTeam events and programs such as LEAF. This year, we plan on forming three committees to help us accomplish these tasks including the Fundraising committee, the YAB Empowering Committee, and the Event Planning Committee. Through these committees, we hope to be even more organized and efficient in planning and carrying out events. We hope to build on the successes and learn what to improve from last year's Youth Advisory Board. All of us are eager to start the year strong and are excited for what we have planned!
--Justin Jorge

June, 2012
Associated Earth Team Programs:
Restoration Action Project

Justin Jorge

De La Salle High School, Concord

Justin, who is a junior at De La Salle High School, first learned about EarthTeam through the Lawrence Hall of Science TEAMS program. Through this program, he participated in EarthTeam's restoration programs at Sausal Creek in partnership with Friends of Sausal Creek. Justin is also a member of EarthTeam's Youth Advisory Board, which was piloted this year.

According to Justin, "Working on the first Youth Advisory Board (YAB) has been a great privilege as I feel that it was an impactful learning experience above all things. The YAB has helped me to develop key skills that I will certainly use in the future. For example, helping the other members to plan the movie matinee featuring the film "Wasteland" taught me how to prepare for an event. Assisting José Luis and Jamilah (EarthTeam staff) at this year's student leadership weekend (LEAF) also gave me experience in planning major programs while presenting at LEAF helped me personally to polish my public speaking skills and allowed me to fully express my thoughts and ideas to others. Along the way I have developed a rapport with my fellow Youth Advisory Board members; it was through our teamwork and the skills of each and every one of us that the YAB was able to thrive in its first year. I definitely look forward to working on next year's YAB!"

The photo shows Justin holding a Tokay Gecko (which is becoming endangered). The gecko wandered into Justin's uncle's house during his visit to the Phillipines. The gecko was captured and then later relased to the authorities to protect. It's been a delight to work with Justin this year, and we're so glad he'll be here for another year as a member of our Youth Advisory Board!

May, 2012
Associated Earth Team Programs:

Kim and Gloria "Jack" Mejia-Cuellar

Fremont Federation of High Schools, Oakland

Kim and Gloria “Jack” Mejia-Cuellar are seniors at Media Academy, and they will both be attending Yale in fall 2012! Both of the twins are varsity policy debaters in the Bay Area Urban Debate League, with Jack serving as Captain of the team.

Kim is the Editor-in-Chief of the school newspaper and is a published fiction and news writer. Her work has appeared in the Oaktown Teen Times, the Green and Gold, 826 Quarterly, and EarthTeam’s the Green News. Kim gives back to the community through volunteering at the school library and tutoring children at 826 Valencia.

Jack, who has interned at the Oakland Tribune, is hoping to major in political science and utilize her skills to help her low-income community. Her book review, “Can Vampires Build Your SAT Score?” won third place in the 2010 Northern California Press Women High School Journalism Contest.

Kim and Jack created the Green News’ debate column. Click here to read their latest debate.

“The environment is an important subject, and I want people to be educated about the issues we are facing today. Hopefully the debate column will shine light on some of those topics and show people different view points.” – Kim Mejia-Cuellar

“I’m thrilled that people read my work, especially the debate column. The Green News is a respected website, and being part of it is such an honor. I look forward to providing my work to the site and helping it grow.” – Gloria “Jack” Mejia-Cuellar

April, 2012
Associated Earth Team Programs:

Zoe Price

Berkeley High School

Zoe Price, class of 2014, is a student in Berkeley High's Green Academy. During a recent Waste Audit with EarthTeam, Zoe made quite an impression with her passion for and dedication to waste reduction. She is a founder and active participant in the Compost Club, working towards diverting compostable waste away from the landfill.

Zoe shared the following about the Compost Club, "We meet weekly to work on the wider goal of implementing compost into every class room at Berkeley High...We hope to speak with our principal, Mr. Scuderi, and the school district about making composting a part of the custodians' jobs, and raising their salary according to the added work."

Congratulations Zoe -- keep up the great work!

March, 2012
Associated Earth Team Programs:
Restoration Action Project

Shaunice Newton

Pinole Valley High School

"My name is Shaunice Newton.  I’m a senior here at Pinole Valley High and a member of the Environmental Studies Academy.  Currently, I’m leading the Academy’s Creek Restoration Group.  Our group, Creek Restoration, meets at the creek once or twice a month and we clean up the creek and the surrounding areas.  We plant native plants, remove non-native plants, mulch the site, and we test the quality of the creek’s water. This year our goal was and is to keep the creek healthy and if possible, to bring back native species, (salmon) to the creek.

Within my Creek Group, we try to educate ourselves about the creek as much as possible.  It’s our hope, that in the near future, we can go around to classes in our school and in other schools to educate students about the creek, its’ importance and how they can help keep it clean and healthy.

The Creek Group, along with other groups in the Academy, sometimes goes on study trips to other sites and help out as much as we can. We recently went to Muir Beach and helped with weeding and planting.  It was a great experience for me as well as for my group.  My goal is to plan more study trips to nurseries and other creeks so that we can, in our small way, make a contribution in improving the health of our environment."

Shaunice Newton is a senior at Pinole Valley High School.  An outstanding member of the Environmental Science Academy, Shaunice leads the Creek group, composed of students from the Environmental Science Academy, in weekend outings to the creek, two to four times a month.  Students gather at Pinole Creek for an hour on Saturdays or Sundays and conduct trash pick ups and water quality testing, recording their data and results for comparison with other restoration days.  Shaunice goes above and beyond expectation to lead her group and has demonstrated exceptional responsibility in maintaining plants she propagated in the classroom.  We're so pleased to have her participate in the Eco-Stewards program!

February, 2012
Associated Earth Team Programs:
Waste Action Project

Maria Cruz

MetWest High School, Oakland

Maria Cruz, who is a freshman, really enjoys the small, tight knit community MetWest provides. Maria is currently a leader in the freshman Environmental Science and Gardening class.  She would one day like to contribute to the health of her community by being a nurse. In the meantime she participates in after school activities, like Youth Venture, focused on creating better community environments through murals and cultural understanding.

Maria demonstrated great deal of leadership skills and enthusiasm in EarthTeam's Waste Action Program. She led several activities that encouraged  and inspired her peers. In particular, she led a classroom discussion that focused and shed light on the views on “waste” in our society, and the vital role that youth play in this equation. It is evident that Maria is invested in the environment as well as her education,  the Waste Action Program congratulates her as student of the month!  


January, 2012
Associated Earth Team Programs:
Restoration Action Project

Oxiris Elizondo

Richmond HS

Oxiris is a junior at Richmond High School and a member of the Aqua Team.  She has been impressively outgoing in her excitement and willingness to talk to members of the public about restoration and stewardship activities!  She is also enthusiastic about asking questions and making suggestions about curriculum and restoration methods.  Her curiosity and enthusiasm are much appreciated!  She says it best herself: "The reason I decided to join Aqua Team is because I wanted to do something new and rewarding. I had heard from my friend, also an Aqua Team member, about Aqua Team and the things they were involved in. I never imagined it would be so much fun. Aqua team has helped me in more ways than one, not only in learning more about our environment and the different things that can and have affected it; but also in helping me grow out of my shyness. It used to be hard for me to talk a lot in front of a lot of people and though it still happens sometimes to me, I am now able to talk with more confidence. I really enjoy being in Aqua Team."  We're so honored to have you be part of the Aqua Team.  Keep up the good work!