A major pillar of the Elkhorn Slough Reserve is community engagement. There is great significance in engaging local communities to inspire stewardship towards the natural resources in their vicinity. These engagements are important for conservation at a local and national scale because they create the mobilization necessary for legislative change. Moreover, engaging local communities is important for introducing children to careers in natural resources thus perpetuating an inclusive paradigm within the outdoor community.
Through the Elkhorn Slough Reserve, I had the opportunity to teach a science class, in Spanish, to local parents in a Watsonville Elementary School. The objective of this class was not necessarily focused on the soil project we worked on, but to establish and communicate the fundamentals of science. Science is about curiosity and questioning, for example, why something functions the way it does and how its characteristics then impact its interactions in this world. For this class, we sought to establish the importance of parents sparking curiosity amongst their children by asking them simple questions. It was an incredible experience interacting with this community and learning some science from them. Many of the Watsonville residents are farmers and hold deep knowledge of the land they harvest for produce distributed throughout this country.
In the same week, I attended a project presentation event led by third grade students part of the reserves Estuary Explorers after school program. These students presented about sea otters, birds, plankton, and many other topics. It was nice seeing that they pulled through their nervousness and presented informative and engaging projects. It is clear how activities, such as their end of the year presentations, will help instill confidence and leadership attributes.
Teaching a science class in Spanish and attending an end of the year project presentation were enriching experiences. The knowledge and capabilities every member of our community holds, and the importance of providing them with the necessary tools to excel is undoubtable. I hope to continue being a resource to my community and to empower them as leaders in their own right.