Week 8: Nuestra Tierra at Olvera Street and Final Nature Walk
Nuestra Tierra: an event where people of diverse communities teach the public about the link between culture and environmentalism- right in the heart of Los Angeles. There were different organizations stationed including Latino Outdoors and my station representing LA Audubon and Environment for the Americas (EFTA). I brought binoculars for the public to use and had a poster for them to record their observations. I also engaged in discussions about conservation efforts at home and why it’s important to protect birds. Kids participated in arts and crafts activities where they decorated bird silhouettes to be placed in windows to prevent collisions. They also crafted their own bird masks which is an object used in Latin American culture for disguise, performance, and ceremonial purposes; however, instead out of clay, the kids used recycled material including newspaper/magazine cuttings for feathers. The best part of this event was that we had two CARECEN families join in. It was great to see familiar faces especially for such an environmental-based communal event.
In other stations, kids got to plant native plants and learn about composting, so it was fun to connect those themes from other stations to EFTA’s 2015 theme, “Restore Habitat, Restore Birds”. The event finished with an aztec dance ceremony. It was inspiring to see the community involved in this public event that promotes environmentalism whether through conservation, restoration, preservation, agriculture, and/or community health.
My Week 3 blog talks about the field trips guided to inner-city schools at Kenneth Hahn Park. This week we had our final trip of the school year .We lead a group of amazing and knowledgeable 6th graders from Walnut Park Middle School. As we walked in the “bowl”, also known as Janice Green Valley, I asked the kids, “Does anyone know what tree this is?” Many yelled out “an Oak Tree!”. I asked them how did they know and I get an “I don’t know” answer. I chuckled as I was surprised at their identification skills as I hadn’t identified an Oak Tree until I was in college. Then, we came across a bird on a shrub. As always I point the bird out, “Oh, it’s a Mockingbird!” says a student. I asked (as always) how he knew and he said “Because of his white feathers”. He blew my mind! I never felt so proud of a young person practicing their naturalists skills. Our group started at the geology station, where Cindy Hardin talked about the California faults and the structure of the Ballona Creek Watershed; then, we proceeded to a station about natural resources in which Cindy’s husband, Jonathan Hardin, led. He talked about the non-renewable resources that were once extracted a couple years ago where we were standing and how the oil drilling degraded the environment over the years. He also mentioned strategies to reduce, reuse, and recycle at home to decrease the use of non-renewable resources. After that station, we proceeded to the Native Garden; then, the science illustration station.
The kids and teachers were thrilled about the information shared at each station. The teachers told us that we covered different subjects that they’re learning in school including history, geology, and life science. It has been a great pleasure working with this amazing team of naturalists and educators. I gained knowledge and examples of being a great educator from each member and I look forward to working with them again during the Fall and next Springs field trips.