For 42 days between September and June, Arroyo Earth Team interns came together to help make the world a better place. They spent their time restoring watershed health, teaching their community about the impacts of waste, learning about the environment and preparing for college.
The interns left their high school campus to work at Oyster Bay, Don Castro Regional Recreation Area, MLK Shoreline and Hayward Shoreline. Here, they removed 3,500 square feet of invasive species, spread 196 square feet of mulch and picked-up 2,600 pieces of litter.
Community outreach and education was also largely emphasized this year. Interns learned different ways to communicate science, whether it be through informational posters or by creating art to share at the San Lorenzo Library. The art show was attended by 9 community members and interns explained how waste impacts our watersheds.
Covid-19 cancelled our educational event at Arroyo High School and our participation with the Cooling Our Communities project, but interns quickly shifted online. They created a virtual spirit week encouraging people to learn more about how waste impacts the environment. They also educated people about the 3 bin sorting system and encouraged others to reduce waste. Their creativity and hard work was viewed over 3,300 times with an estimated 120 unique viewers and a total reach of 2,248 people across Instagram and Facebook. This success also landed them 1st place in SEIs Energize Schools Campaign Competition, earning them $900!
Additionally, Earth Team interns created a new way to educate people remotely. They created Plant-Demic, a board game that teaches players about the spread of invasive species. Click here to learn how to play!
Beyond educating their community, Arroyo interns also learned about the environment. Interns toured the REACH Ashland Youth Center, which not only provides career building services for youth, but is an example of sustainability. The Center has a 3 bin sorting system to properly recycle and compost, has solar panels to generate renewable energy, has a green roof to grow vegetables, and actively decreases energy consumption by only turning on lights when needed.
While we were unfortunately only able to test for soil and water quality once in the field, the interns conducted a total of 35 tests. They learned about the scientific method and gained valuable field research skills. Interns also learned about the importance of gathering metadata, such as information about the location and weather, to better understand the results of their tests.
In the classroom, interns moved beyond their regular high school curriculum to dive deeper into a variety of environmental topics. Topics included deforestation, air pollution and biodiversity loss as well as designing protected areas, sustainable agriculture, the Sustainable Development Goals, and their water and ecological footprints. Interns also learned about how pollution impacts their watershed, such as the harm caused by nonnative species, marine debris and urban runoff. Additionally, interns learned about the environmental impacts of producing the things we buy, such as plastic, metal, glass and clothing, and the alternative products we can purchase to reduce our environmental impact.
Finally, interns spent several meetings preparing for college and their future careers. They learned how to write a resume and practiced interviewing for future jobs. They also learned about professional networks and interviewed 4 young professionals and graduate students. Throughout the year, the interns heard from a total of 9 guest speakers.
The interns concluded the year by presenting their achievements to their community in an online meeting shared with Castro Valley and San Lorenzo Earth Teams. Besides Arroyo Earth Team, the meeting was attended by 28 individuals! Overall, Arroyo Earth Team had a fantastic year! They all worked incredibly hard and achieved some great things. Thank you to all of our project partners who aided in intern learning and outreach this year. Congratulations to our graduating seniors and we hope to see the rest of you next year!