Intern Blog: Reflecting On My Year with Earth Team Pinole

Pinole intern, Natalie Szumlas, reflects on her year with Earth Team and shares highlights from their presentation to Pinole's City Council.

Written by: Natalie Szumlas, Earth Team Pinole Intern

I was once taught that the city of Pinole was land of the tribes before us, it was cared for, but we have disturbed it. Every piece of trash I have ever thrown on the ground has impacted Pinole and the history that lies on it. Beginning to restore these areas and seeing Pinole’s progression farther into beautification has made every second of work worth it. Joining the Earth Team to restore the Pinole creek has been such an educating and loved project by my teammates and myself.

One of my favorite experiences was going into the creek for my first time. I wore waders and went waist deep into the creek. Being able to benefit the wildlife in the creek just by picking up trash was a wakeup call for me. Another role I’ve had in the creek clean-up was using the marine debris tracker app. This is an app that keeps count of the amount and types of trash we collect. I really enjoyed this app because you could identify problems from the amount in each category. We found out that there is a high count for cigarettes which indicated to us that the city could use more ashtrays. After we collect all our trash for the day, we would see how much we collected all together. Seeing the high numbers made me feel like I was making a difference in Pinole.

When the team was told we were going to present in front of Pinole’s city council there was a lot of confusion and worries that I had. I thought “How could kids make a difference?” and “Would adults even listen or take us seriously?” Well, everything I thought was proven to be wrong. When we stepped in front of the city council, they looked more human than I expected. I was still nervous to present but I did it knowing that they actually wanted to hear what I wanted to say. After I presented, they actually came back to my point in later discussion which made me realize that they not only listened but took everything I said into account.

I never felt more confident in my public speaking skills than that day. It was one of those good experiences that paved the way for all my presentations to come. I stepped out of my comfort zone with caution to be there and everything turned out great. I did the same thing when I joined the Earth Team program which makes me think this was a great decision too.

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