Antioch Hosts Earth Day at the Upper Sand Creek Basin

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Spring was a busy season for Earth Team Antioch! The team partnered with folks from the Contra Costa Resource Conservation District and the Contra Costa Flood Control District to host a community event for Earth Day at the Upper Sand Creek Basin. The event brought volunteers of all ages from Contra Costa County. Together everyone worked to clean up and bring new life to the basin.

Interns teamed up and led groups of volunteers on a litter cleanup challenge. Leaders showed volunteers how to use NOAA’s Marine Debris Tracker app to collect information about the type of litter they were finding. The groups had an hour to collect and record as much litter as they could along the bank of the creek. Overall, everyone collected at least 1,690 pieces of litter!

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Following the litter cleanup competition, the next task for the day was to plant, mulch, and water 40 native shrubs and trees throughout the basin. Partners from Nomad Ecology led a planting tutorial to demonstrate how to properly install the plants. Species we planted that day included Toyon, Buckeye, Soaproot, and Cottonwood.

There is no established irrigation system in place, so the plants had to be watered with water from the creek. Volunteers and interns worked tirelessly, carrying buckets to and fro, to ensure every plant was sufficiently watered to survive the dry summer months in Antioch.

Since the event, interns have made a visit to the Upper Sand Creek Basin to check on the status and survival of the plants. We are glad to report that everything planted that day is alive and well! We are excited to watch the progress in the months to come.

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Earth Team Antioch Partners with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

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Earth Team Antioch has made several visits this year to National Wildlife Refuges in the Bay Area. Interns have been working closely with wildlife biologists at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to learn the importance of restoring and protecting habitats for the many endangered species that reside in these refuges.

The team is especially concerned with the restoration of the national wildlife refuge in their own community–the Antioch Dunes. Decades ago these sand dune systems reached well over 120 feet high and stretched for 2 miles along the San Joaquin River. However, due to large scale mining for brick material in the 1900s, the dunes were almost entirely depleted. Now, thanks to an agreement with the Port of Stockton, sand material has been dredged up from the San Joaquin River to rebuild and restore the dunes.

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This year we have focused our efforts on removing invasive plant species which threaten the growth and success of the Antioch Dunes Evening Primrose and Contra Costa Wallflower–plants that are only native to the Antioch Dunes. The greatest challenge this year was removing Malva neglecta, commonly known as cheeseweed or mallow. Using weed wrenches, some sweat, and determination, we have now successfully removed over 100 square feet of this invasive plant at the Antioch Dunes.

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Working with USFWS has given interns the opportunity to learn more about the various environmental careers and projects that they can pursue. In early Spring, interns had the opportunity to lead a Biology class field trip for 9th-grade students from Antioch High School at the Antioch Dunes. They worked to help their younger peers learn how to identify native and invasive species growing at the dunes. Working with these younger students not only served as a way to outreach to community members about the importance of preserving these lands, but it was also a way for interns to reinforce the knowledge and skills they have learned from USFWS partners.

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The Antioch Dunes National Wildlife Refuge contributes a unique quality to the Antioch community and Earth Team is glad to be a part of the efforts to restore and protect the wildlife present there.

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Antioch Welcomes a New Year and New Faces

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The start of a new semester brought new friends to Antioch High’s Earth Team largely due to the success of peer presentations and recruitment in December. After the first month back, it’s safe to say that every new member is integrating well with the organizational culture of Earth Team’s Sustainable Youth Internship program. Everyone on the team has done an outstanding job of demonstrating the level of dedication and commitment expected of an Earth Team intern.

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In January, Antioch interns participated in various activities that included team building, professional development, environmental awareness, and STEM learning. Thanks to the leadership exhibited by all our returning interns, all team members are displaying greater confidence and ability to complete technical-based tasks. New interns were trained by their fellow Earth Team peers on how to complete litter assessments using NOAA’s Marine Debris Tracker App as well as how to conduct water quality tests at the Upper Sand Creek Basin. Together the team has been brainstorming potential research questions for a research project which will be presented at the annual GLOBE Student Research Symposium in April.

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This semester interns will continue their data collection and restoration work at the Upper Sand Creek Basin in addition to working at the Antioch Dunes–a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Refuge. Stay tuned to learn more about our new members and stay updated with all the exciting events coming up this semester in Antioch!

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Presenting to Peers at Antioch High School

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For several weeks Earth Team interns at Antioch High School planned to present to their peers about the work they’ve completed with Earth Team. Throughout the semester interns participated in several public speaking activities and exercises to prepare them for events such as this one.

During their presentations, interns informed their peers about the extensive water quality data they have collected at the Upper Sand Creek Basin, the collaboration to remove invasive plant species with Earth Team Pinole, and the campus litter they’ve been tracking using NOAA’s Marine Debris Tracker App.

Several of the students they presented to showed interest in joining Earth Team and have since applied to be a part of the program. We are looking forward to welcoming new interns in January.

Monitoring Water Quality at the Upper Sand Creek Basin

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Michael conducting a dissolved oxygen test.

This Fall, Earth Team interns at Antioch High School have been monitoring water quality at the Upper Sand Creek Basin. Water that enters the basin comes from two locations: Sand Creek and local storm drain systems. The Upper Sand Creek Basin was a project created by the Contra Costa Flood Control District to restore natural habitats along Sand Creek and to retain floodwaters during extreme rainstorms to prevent flooding in the communities of Antioch, Brentwood, and Oakley. Earth Team interns have completed water quality testing at both inlets as well as the single outlet of the basin. They have shown so much enthusiasm and dedication for this project that interns did not seem to mind being at the basin on a rainy Saturday morning to complete data collection for the Fall semester! Interns frequently confess that collecting water quality data is among one of their favorite activities to do in the field. It’s great to see interns putting their STEM skills to the test. We’re all looking forward to a complete analysis of their results later on this year.

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Antioch Teams Up with Pinole Valley at the Upper Sand Creek Basin

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Antioch and Pinole Valley interns after a hard day of work removing Stinkwort

Interns from Antioch and Pinole Valley High School teamed up for a Saturday field day at the Upper Sand Creek Basin. Their task for the day was to remove the invasive plant species called “Stinkwort.” Early Fall is the best season for tackling this invader as the plant is still green and has not yet started to flower. These conditions lessen the risk of spreading seeds across the field site which can further produce new Stinkwort plants next season.

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Emma feeling satisfied after uprooting a large Stinkwort plant

Interns worked tirelessly on that sunny afternoon. After 3 hours of weed pulling and a much-needed lunch break, interns wrapped up their efforts and bagged up the Stinkwort. In total, they collected a volume of 1000 gallons of Stinkwort plants that day! This large number goes to show how invasive this plant really is. Great work interns!

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Antioch Earth Team is Back at the Upper Sand Creek Basin

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Michael and Delaney collecting water quality data at the Upper Sand Creek Basin

October 16th marked the return of Antioch Earth Team interns to the Upper Sand Creek Basin. Interns used GLOBE Hydrosphere and Atmosphere protocols to define their study site and collect their first samples of water quality data. For most interns, it was their first time ever visiting the Upper Sand Creek Basin. A biologist from Nomad Ecology met with interns to introduce them to the field site and help them identify the invasive species called “Stinkwort.” Interns will have the task of removing this invasive plant species from the Upper Sand Creek Basin this Fall. Many interns expressed that they were excited to finally be out in the field and look forward to the work we will be doing there.

Delaney, a returning intern, shared some thoughts on her visit to the Upper Sand Creek Basin:

“My first impression of the Upper Sand Creek Basin was, “wow this place is really hot!” The most interesting thing I saw there was a dead bird. We were able to identify a few weeds using an invasive species guide. I’m looking forward to more water testing because I think that’s fun. The basin is very dry right now, but full of life with lots of potential for improvement. One thing I hope to do this year at the Upper Sand Creek Basin is to clean more litter, but avoid getting 13 ticks on me again!”

 

Student Blog: Returning to Earth Team

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Samantha and Abigail using GLOBE Hydrosphere Protocols to perform a water transparency test

Returning to Earth Team for 2018-2019 is a journey that I am extremely excited to make again. Upon joining the internship I have created lifelong memories and taken advantages of opportunities that would have otherwise not been presented to me. Being a part of Earth Team has given me a greater chance at acquiring job experience. I have been able to obtain greater public speaking and leadership skills while working with a community I am comfortable with and still being pushed past my comfort zones. Some personal goals that have arisen from being a part of Earth Team include that of pursuing my environmental science interests when it is soon time for me to take off for college. Being a part of Earth Team has helped me to figure out types of things I would like to study and the sorts of careers I would like to pursue in which I will build my life from. Earth Team is much more to me that an internship and a place to work, it is a way for me to contribute to my community and give back to the world in which we live in. I feel a lot more comfortable in the outdoors now, even more than I was before Earth Team. I feel like I can teach my nephew, my younger cousins, as well as the rest of my family to learn to be respectful of the environment and hopefully create a better future for themselves and future generations.

-Samantha, Earth Team intern at Antioch High School

Meet the Antioch Earth Team Interns!

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Abigail Gamble – My name is Abby. I joined Earth Team last year because I love nature and I wanted to protect our environment. I enjoyed it so much last year that I joined again! This year I’m excited to continue our projects, go into nature, and go on the camping trips. Fun Fact: I love art and swimming.

 

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Antonio Melhado – Hi my name is Antonio. I’m a senior at Antioch High School. This is my first year as an Earth Team intern. Some of the reasons I joined are because I want to work with my hands and I enjoy outside activities. Also, I wanted to be in a club with my brother. I’m excited to be here because I’m interested in collecting data, going on the outdoor trips, and helping the environment. I love being outdoors and playing with animals.

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Delaney DeMarco – My name is Delaney, I’m a second year Earth Team intern. I joined Earth Team because I like to help out my community. I really like helping out with Earth Team because I find the work interesting. Fun Fact: My birthday is on October 16.

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Evelyn Ninahuanca – Hi my name is Evelyn and I’m 14 years old in 10th grade. I joined Earth Team because it seemed interesting to me. Some skills I’m good at include helping others.

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Justin Fernandez – Hi my name is Justin. I’m a sophomore at Antioch High School. I’m a first year Earth Team intern. I am a kind person who likes the environment and likes to help in any way I can. I’m a family man with a good attitude. I like to get the job done and done right. Nature is my calling.

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Marco Dominguez – I’m a senior at Antioch High. I really enjoy music. I’ve been playing guitar for one year and a half. I decided to rejoin Earth Team because it is a really great experience.

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Michael Chatham – Hi, my name is Michael, I’m a Junior. It is my second year as an intern and I am excited for the extended trips that we will be taking this year. I joined this year to help with the environment around me.

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Natalie Sandoval – Hi my name is Natalie, I’m 15 years old in 10th grade. What I’m most excited about joining Earth Team is learning new things about the environment and doing many activities.

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Natalyia Johnson – Hi my name is Natalyia. This is my second year in Earth Team. I re-joined because Earth Team gives out many opportunities such as making new friends. Fun Fact: I have naturally red hair.

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Russell Reed – My name is Russell and I am a senior at Antioch High School. I was a part of Earth Team before as a sophomore. A lot of people I knew were a part of the internship and I absolutely loved it. I enjoy music, computers, and motor-sports. Fun Fact: I am part of a pit crew!

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Sabrina Lozano – Hi, I’m Sabrina! This is my first year of being an Earth Team intern. I’m a senior at Antioch High School. I joined Earth Team because I want to help the environment and I want to meet new people. Fun Fact: I want to become a geologist.

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Sage Bennett – Hi, my name is Sage and I am a senior at Antioch High School. This is my second year in Earth Team and what I enjoy most about being an intern is connecting with nature and then using that driving force to advocate for environmental awareness. Besides Earth Team I also love musical theater (singing and acting) and I love to be involved. I’m involved in CSF, Interact, Musical Theater, Choir, Colorguard, and even Youtube…when I’m not eating food. We only have one home, so we should safeguard it. I’m extremely excited for opportunities to enlist my passions that will lead me on the path to eventually turn my dreams into realities.

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Samantha Baniega – My name’s Samantha and I’m a returning intern from Earth Team 17-18. I joined Earth Team initially to gain work experience and work in the environment to do restoration work, but as I continued to do work with the internship I discovered an even greater love and respect for my environment. I’m excited to venture outdoors and do our best to preserve the world and keep it healthy. Fun Fact: I love traveling and going to concerts with my sister. I also enjoy playing my ukulele and jamming out.

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Santino Melhado – Earth Teams seems like a good new learning experience. What I hope to get out of this internship is to meet new people, learn new skills, and just have an overall good experience. I consider myself an all around helpful guy.