Celebrating A Year of Victories with Antioch Earth Team

IMG_0418The year has come to an end! This year Antioch Earth Team met 42 times, completing over 120 hours of education and training. Meetings including 22 class visits, 17 field visits, and a public event that they hosted! Together, we reached over 334 community members and classmates.  The team planted 295 native plants, administered 30 water quality tests, and removed 8,300 square feet of invasive species!

The highlights of our project were..

  • Freshman Field Trip to the Antioch Dunes: Interns, in partnership with US Fish and Wildlife Service professionals, lead a day long field trip to the Antioch Dunes.  Participants include freshmen from the high school’s Environmental Science Academy, and activities included invasive removal, native plantings, and lunch on the beach.

 

  • Earth Day at the Upper Sand Creek Basin: Interns worked with the Contra Costa Flood Control District, the Contra Costa Resource Conservation District, Friends of Marsh Creek, and the Office of Supervisor Diane Burgis to plan and host a community Earth Day event at the Upper Sand Creek Basin.  Over 85 community members attended and helped with restoration efforts including a litter clean-up competition, native plantings, and invasive species removal.

 

  • GLOBE Pacific Student Research Symposium at NASA Ames: After spending many field visits collecting water quality data at the Upper Sand Creek Basin, interns were able to share their findings with peers and NASA researchers at the GLOBE symposium held at NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California.

 

  • Spring LEAF at Slide Ranch: Nearly half of the team attended the spring camping event at Slide Ranch over Memorial Day weekend, marking a fantastic end to an amazing year!

 

Great job Antioch interns!

 

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Sharing Research Findings at NASA Ames Research Center

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Representatives from Antioch Earth Team presented their research at the GLOBE Pacific Region Student Research Symposium on May 18th and May 19th 2018. Two young leaders attended the conference of over 100 young scientists and mentors at the NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California.  The two day symposium included a tour of the world’s largest wind tunnel, presentations by NASA researchers and the director of the facility, peer reviews of research projects, and feedback on posters from NASA researchers.

The interns in attendance shared the group’s poster, which focused on their water testing and restoration efforts at the Upper Sand Creek Basin, with peers and professional researchers throughout the conference.  The poster that the team prepared included data from various days of water testing as well as observations about oak growth in the basin and recommendations for successful community engagement and education moving forward.

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Many thanks to the GLOBE Program and NASA for hosting such an inspiring group of youth environmental leaders at this year’s Pacific Region Student Research Symposium!

 

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Wrapping Up Restoration Efforts at the Antioch Dunes

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For their last two field visits of the year, Antioch Earth Team headed out to the Antioch Dunes for a last push of restoration efforts before butterflies begin appearing in late August.  On one day, interns assisted Louis Terrazas in planting around 80 Antioch Dunes Evening Primroses in a site that had been cleared of invasive vegetation.

IMG_0284.JPGFor their next visit, the team worked on removing grasses and invasive vetch (Vicia villosa)  from around blooming primrose.  When the team first began visiting the Dunes in January, nothing was in bloom and the biggest Antioch Dunes Evening Primrose in sight was no more than 3 inches across.  However, on their final visit to the Dunes, the team was able to see all of the primroses in full bloom, some of them several feet across and covered in light pink petals.  What a rewarding end to a year of hard work!

Many thanks are owed to Louis Terrazas of the US Fish and Wildlife Service for leading  the interns through this project, and to Patagonia for funding this work. Until next year!

What Does Earth Team Really Mean?

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E: We live in an ecosystem, and its easy to destroy it and use its resources.  

A: We advocate for the environment by hosting Earth Day events and being the change we want to see in the world.

R: We are Earth Team and we represent Antioch, we represent youth, we represent the future, we represent plants and animals, and we represent humankind.

T: Together we can change the world through small things like recycling, picking up trash, planting trees, removing invasive species, and reaching out to our community. Together we are united!

H: Our work helps to restore habitats because its the right thing to do for future generations.

 

T: We are thankful that community members showed up to help do the work to make the Upper Sand Creek Basin a better place.

E: Everybody came together to work on Earth Day, and everybody plays a role in protecting our environment.

A: We affect the environment, so we should be aware of what we need to do to fix it.

M: It is our mission to save the planet.

Stepping Into the Shoes of an Earth Day Volunteer

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After the Earth Day event at the Upper Sand Creek Basin planned and lead by Antioch Earth Team, several interns took some time to step into the shoes of volunteers and consider what they might have been noticing and thinking about on Earth Day 2018.

 

“For this Earth Day I decided to be more progressive.  I heard about an Earth Day event being held next to Deer Valley High by a group of interns named Earth Team.  Then, I heard Extra Credit was going to be given by some teachers for going and I was in need of some free extra credit and interested in what was beyond that fence on the edge of town.  I woke earlier than I usually do on Saturdays and I was on my way.  I was one of the first people to get there, and it seemed like some of the people there might be kind of weird.  Luckily, there was some food and coffee, so I just ate until the activities commenced.  That day was really hot which made the event sort of tough, but the litter clean up was fun.  After the event, I called my mom and had her pick me up.  It was different for me since I’ve never done something like that.  But overall I enjoyed the outing and feel really good about myself for once!”

 

This volunteer journal entry, written by Earth Team interns, takes the opportunity to reflect on what it means for community members to start to become involved in issues related to the environment.  Events like Earth Day are a good opportunity for community members to test the waters of environmental advocacy, and learn that everyone has an important and fulfilling role to play in making our planet a better place!

Youth Leaders Reflect on Leadership Roles During Earth Day Event

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Antioch High School Earth Team interns spent some time reflecting on their experience leading the Earth Day event they planned at the Upper Sand Creek Basin. 

Below is the script of a skit developed by one team to summarize their experiences in leadership roles during the litter clean up competition they planned.

Characters:

  • Earth Team intern: age 17
  • Volunteer #1: age 13, likes unicorns
  • Volunteer #2: age 15, spiky green hair

Earth Team intern: “We need to get out there and get our hands dirty to win this litter competition!”

Volunteers #1 and #2: “Yassssssss”

All three team members wander off together in search of treasure, BUT instead of treasure its trash!

Volunteer #1: “I found a plastic bottle!”

Volunteer #2: “I picked up a plastic bag!”

Earth Team intern: “Okay guys I recorded it! Good job!”

Volunteer #1: “Why are we picking up trash anyway?”

Earth Team intern: “We pick up trash because we want a cleaner environment and we don’t want it to end up in our water systems or anywhere else!”

Volunteer #2: “Ahh! There’s a tick on me, get it off!”

Earth Team intern: “Oh no….”

After the tick was removed, the team picked up the rest of the trash in the basin and then headed back to eat food!

 

Another team wrote haiku poems, following the 5 syllable – 7 syllable – 5 syllable pattern, reflecting on details of the event. Below are some examples

Elderberries were blooming

We were planting native plants

Sun was high above

 

Kids were everywhere

The sun was shining brightly

Lets plant native plants

 

Children picked up trash

At Upper Sand Creek Basin

Winner won a prize

 

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A History of the Antioch Dunes and Lange’s Metalmark Butterfly

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* Student Blog by Samantha Baniega*

The Antioch Dunes Wildlife Refuge is home to the Lange’s Metalmark Butterfly, an endangered subspecies of the Mormon metalmark butterfly. Lange’s Metalmark Butterfly was discovered in 1933 and later named by Dr. Comstock after Henry Lange, a professor at UC Davis. The Antioch Dunes became a wildlife refuge in 1980 to protect the endangered butterfly species as well as the endangered plant species in the area. The population dramatically plummeted due to the development of the Antioch region among the San Joaquin River resulting in the scarce numbers for years. Only a few years ago did the population increase from a mere 45 to 131 butterflies in the dunes.

For years, numbers fluctuated reaching thousands and dropping to less than a hundred. If the Lange’s Metalmark were to one day go completely extinct it would have an immense effect on other wildlife in the Antioch dunes, including certain bird, lizard and wasp species as well as mice. These species are highly protected and were even granted a $500,000 recovery plan in efforts to restore their once thriving population. In order to preserve these insects, their food sources and homes must also be restored and maintained.

The Antioch Dunes buckwheat is the species of plant that also resides in the Antioch Dunes, which serves as a home to the Lange’s Metalmark. The buckwheat plant is the only plant females lay their eggs on, otherwise the female Metalmarks will not reproduce. Lange’s Metalmark butterflies and their larvae are only found in this specific region of the world which is why they are considered such a precious species.

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Working With Restoration Professional at the Alameda Naval Base

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*Student Blog by Courtney Sanchez*

On March 10th, Antioch Earth Team took a trip to the Alameda Naval Base. At the Naval Base, we were able to help prepare the habitat in which the Caspian Tern makes their nests. We did this by getting rid of the invasive species, packing it up, and taking it out of the premises. In the end, we were able to clear the space for the incoming birds. Working as a team, we were able to quickly clear the area with no disruptions. Working well with another school and professionals from the US Fish and Wildlife Service made this task quick, easy, and fun. It feels good to be able to help this species out and I hope in the future I’m able to see them when they migrate up to Alameda.

The Caspian Tern is the largest of the terns, residing in every continent but Antartica. An adult Caspian Tern has a large tern, black cap, white body, and a large thick bill with a dark tip. Their habitats include fresh and saltwater wetlands, estuaries, coastal bays, and beaches. When they nest, it usually takes place on low sand or gravel islands with sparse vegetation. Both parents help build the nest, incubating one to three eggs for three weeks. Usually, it takes the young birds about a month to leave their nest.

The Caspian Tern is a straightforward species. Their diet consists of fish, mainly the ones that swim by the shore. When they spot a fish, they plunge into the water, almost completely submerging. They are less rigorous than other terns, nesting in small colonies. However, they could be aggressive when defensive. When these birds fly, they have a strong, slow-wing beat. This species is easily identifiable.

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Antioch High Freshmen Join Earth Team for Restoration at the Antioch Dunes

IMG_2629Leaders from Antioch High School’s Earth Team had the opportunity to support a group of nearly 40 freshmen from Antioch High School during a field trip they took to the Antioch Dunes National Wildlife Refuge,

Several employees from the US Fish and Wildlife Service lead the field trip, organized by Antioch High Environmental Science Academy’s Rick Barton. Earth Team interns helped out by supporting with the various projects of the day since they are quickly becoming restoration experts at the Antioch Dunes.

The day’s activities included an introduction and overview of the Antioch Dunes and the National Wildlife Refuge System.  The group then broke into teams to take on invasive removal and native planting at three different spots at the Dunes. During planting time, students found a whole range of cool animals and bugs, including legless lizards that burrow into the sandy soil at the Dunes.

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After their morning of hard work, the teams took time for lunch on the beach.  It just so happened that two other Fish and Wildlife employees were out by the river catching and measuring fish as well as taking water quality metrics right where we were eating lunch.

Finally, the teams returned to their sites to water their new plants, and ended the day by relaxing on the beach. On their way home from the field trip, Antioch Earth Team reflected on their favorite parts of the day.

“My favorite part was watching the guys catch fish , taking water test measurements, and listening to the guy talk about his job” – Natalyia

“My favorite part of today was when we were planting the plants, it was a good bonding past time with my peers” – Marco

“My favorite part of today was planting the trees with my friends” – Courtney

“My favorite part of the day was conversing with the Fish and Wildlife workers that came out to test the San Joaquin River. It was really cool seeing how they measured dissolved oxygen, pH, etc.” – Tanya

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