This past weekend, I had the opportunity to work with my supervisor, Chantel Jimenez, along with Phi Beta Sigma’s San Diego Omicron Lota Sigma’s chapter, the Blue Heart Foundation, and Outdoor Outreach, on a habitat restoration project at the San Diego National Wildlife Refuge on the south San Diego Bay unit. A group of approximately fifteen African American teenagers came out as volunteers to help clean up our environment. After these boys showed up, I got the chance to show them how to spread out mulch around our growing garden and how to identify which plants were weeds so they would know which ones needed to be pulled out. At first the boys seemed excited to start the project, but as time wore on it was obvious that they were realizing this was actually hard work and they were getting tired. However, Chantel and I were grateful to be able to work alongside our very first group of African American young men. This experience made me realize how rare it actually is that different ethnicities and races participate in work like this. It also opened my eyes to how important it is to incorporate cultural diversity in environmental conservation. At the end of the day, the difference between how the site looked before and after the cleanup was truly revealed. The habitat looked so much cleaner and more beautiful than before, thanks to our volunteers. I regret not taking a before and after picture of the site. However, the picture that I am posting here is one on my continued progress towards our International Migratory Bird Day event. As seen in this image, I am coloring our “pledge for bird conservation” poster which took me a while to draw, but was totally worth it!

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