EarthTeam Is Recruiting At Skyline High School For 2016-2017 Internships

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The EarthTeam Internship at Skyline this year will focus on nature as a solution for certain problems in cities.

Senior Program Associate Jesse Brown spoke to over 225 students from the Environmental Academy at Skyline High School on September 2nd, 2016.

This year’s internship at Skyline is “Green Cities,” and will focus on nature in the urban environment. 14 student interns will explore how the natural environment can be a solution to problems cities face. The Internship will begin Wednesday, September 21st!

 

Learning from the best, trail maintenance in Dimond Canyon

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This past week our interns were treated to a lesson on trail maintenance with retired East Bay Regional Park Supervisor, Dee Rosario. We met Dee at the Old Cañyon trail in Dimond Canyon to help remove some limbs that were intruding into the trail. Before becoming Park Supervisor at Redwood Regional Park, Dee worked as a Fire Lieutenant and Park Ranger. He imparted wisdom regarding selecting the right tool for the job, technique in using the tools, and the virtues of working for the Park District. Dee also shared his new campaign to be elected to the Board of Directors for the Park District.

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Ricky using the pole saw, reflected that he enjoyed using the new tools and felt trusted by Dee to cut limbs from the overhanging trees.

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Marianna and Long made quick work of an invasive Cotoneaster which was on the side of the trail. All of the interns shared that they enjoyed learning how to use the tools, and enjoyed contributing to the maintenance of the trail. As we worked, several trail users stopped to share their appreciation for the group and their efforts to make the trail more enjoyable for hikers.

Restoration requires challenging decisions

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Interns from Alameda HS EarthTeam joined Skyline HS EarthTeam to remove Coyote Brush from a wetland above Fern Ravine Creek

On February 6th, students from Skyline HS joined the Skyline High School EarthTeam and Friends of Sausal Creek to remove Coyote Bush from the wetland above Fern Ravine Creek. To advertise the workday, EarthTeam interns practiced their “elevator pitches” and rehearsed what they would say to their peers about the event, and why they should attend. Using a list of do’s and don’t(s) from the Antioch HS EarthTeam, Skyline HS interns practiced projecting their voice, using visuals, and making eye contact with the audience.

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Come Saturday, their efforts were rewarded with the presence of 11 of their classmates from Skyline HS, joined by 3 fellow interns from Alameda HS, making the total group a potent 21 students. Michelle Krieg, field coordinator from Friends of Sausal Creek, introduced the restoration activities underway at Fern Ravine, and described the project students would be undertaking that day. To our surprise, we would be removing a native, Coyote Brush Baccharis pilularis, from the wetland. Michelle described the importance of the rare wetland habitat in the Oakland hills, and how the presence of the Coyote Brush was an indication of ecological succession, the changing of species in an ecological community over time. While Coyote Brush was widespread through the Oakland hills, the wetland plants it was succeeding were not, and so the difficult choice was made to remove the Coyote Brush to maintain the wetland plant community so uncommon in the area.

IMG_20160206_111617Using hacksaws and loppers, our students made quick work of the Coyote Brush, working in teams to heave the large root balls from the soil. Before removing the Coyote Brush, students checked for evidence of early nesting birds, which they wouldn’t want to disturb. Another species they tried not to disrupt was the convergent ladybug which had gathered in the thousands to overwinter while their food sources were hard to find.

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Overall our interns were happy with the amount of students who came out and are excited to recruit for their next event at Palos Colorados trailhead. Details for that event can be found here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/restoration-gardening-at-palos-colorados-tickets-21785619374

What is a watershed?

wa·ter·shed
noun
1. An area or ridge of land that separates waters flowing to different rivers, basins, or seas.
2. An event or period marking a turning point in a course of action or state of affairs.

The concept of a watershed can be a difficult concept to grasp. Our interns began the school year learning about the watershed they live in, and studying the various impacts humans have had on urban watersheds this century. To end their first semester, interns were asked to come up with an activity to teach their peers about the concept of a watershed. Drawing upon the activities they had experienced to learn about watersheds, our interns decided to use an activity known as DIY watershed, or crumpled paper watershed.
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Using brown builder’s paper, students crumple their paper and then un-crumple it to model the ridges and valleys of a watershed. A spray bottle is then used to simulate a rainstorm and the runoff that would come from the rain.
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Following the crumpled paper watershed construction, EarthTeam interns facilitated a discussion around the various forms of pollution that effects our urban streams. Above, Lesly is describing how oil from cars can enter the creeks through the storm drain system.
To help gauge how much their classmates knew before, and after, the activity, EarthTeam interns created a survey asking their classmates to define a watershed, and the types of pollution that would be washed into creeks during a rain storm.
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77 students completed both the pre and post surveys, which were graded from 0 to 4 points with each question worth a maximum of two points. Our interns were happy to discover that their activity and facilitated discussions helped raise the average score from 25% in the pre-survey to  70% in the post-survey, with 20 students receiving a perfect score on the post-survey.

Reflection & advice for others

We met after-school to reflect on the experience and celebrate the new knowledge they had created in their classroom communities about the watershed and how to be a better steward of local creeks. In preparation for a webinar later in the afternoon where they would share what they had learned from teaching their classmates, our interns wrote this letter to students who would be facilitating any type of activity in their classes:

Dear students at another school,

Some advice we would like to give you about presenting to another class is to project your voice, use creative methods to get the attention of the class, interact with the students, and create a song.

We think you should use these methods because it will create a better presentation. A better learning environment will enable the audience to understand the importance of your presentation. Here are a few steps that you should consider doing:

Step 1: Get the attention of your audience with a song, dance, or game.

Step 2: Interact with a lot of enthusiasm on the subject. Have incentives (like candy) for members of the class to participate.

Step 3: Talk about the topic and draw out the ideas from the students. Don’t drift off topic!

Step 4: Give a summary of the presentation and the importance of the subject.

Good luck!

Signed,

Your Skyline EarthTeam Buddies

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Three of our interns stayed at the end of the meeting to share the success of their project with interns from Oakland HS and Antioch HS. A big thank you to Ms. Gomberg for allowing the interns space in her classes to teach about watersheds!

Additional advice for students who want to teach their peers:

Dear students,

Presenting to a class and teaching them is very nerve-racking and not the easiest thing to do. You should make sure you are fully prepared and know what you are talking about. Speak clearly and loudly so everyone can hear you. Make sure the whole class is focused and give clear instructions so nobody will be confused. A good way to get people to participate is giving them candy, and if nobody raises their hand you should just pick on people, but make sure everyone has had enough time to think about the question. Good luck!

Welcome 2015-2016 Skyline EarthTeam

It’s a new school year and the 2015-2016 EarthTeam is off to a great start! Students have begun learning about the watershed they live in, including a field trip to the nearby Leona Canyon to study the native, and invasive plants that live there.

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Earlier in the month, interns from the Skyline H.S. EarthTeam joined with interns from the Oakland H.S. Earthteam at Dimond Park for the annual Creek to Bay Day. Here are students from Skyline H.S. who helped collect litter from Sausal Creek.

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