An Intern’s Experience in Environmental Leadership


I joined Druids at the beginning of my sophomore year, hoping to become more involved with my school’s community. When I could, I attended after school native garden labs on campus, and I felt more and more connected with the Earth as I learned to nurture our local environment by working with and learning about native plants.

Druids teaching local elementary students about Native American survival in the Native Garden. At this station, they learn how to use friction and sticks to make fire.

I also attended the Druid’s weekly on-campus recycling, and learned that the Druids club alone was responsible for separating recyclables from trash and ensuring that we had a recyclable program at all. Druids do on-campus recycling weekly. The image below is only about half of that week’s bottles and cans in the pile. Several more loads of the same size are separated into aluminum and plastic and taken to the recycling center.


Prior to the Druids taking on weekly recycling, the Environmental Leadership and Action class did the recycling on campus for class credit, among other parts of their curriculum. They learned how to cook healthy foods from the food garden at school. They also succeeded in petitioning for a tree sound wall next to the freeway that now blocks the freeway from San Lorenzo High’s campus.  Three years ago, the ELA class was discontinued due to lack of promotion and financial support, leaving the task of ensuring recyclables were actually recycled to the Druids.

I saw that a lot of people joined Druids in order to gain community service hours, but left with a better understanding of the natural world, a better understanding of how to be caretakers of the environment, and an appreciation of the Earth.

I was invited to be a part of the Druids board my junior year, which encouraged me to fight for the promotion of environmental justice through education by bringing back the ELA class. After collecting fifty-plus signatures on a petition to restart the class, I was told by administration that there was no budget for the class and that for the district, it wasn’t a priority.

This is why Earth Team is so important to me. It’s a way of learning how getting involved locally can have an impact that is potentially global. It’s because of Earth Team that I will not stop working towards environmental justice in our community and for our world. In the future I believe that the Environmental Leadership and Action class will be an option for San Lorenzo High students. Until then, I am proud to be a part of environmental organizations such as Druids and Earth Team that strive to keep the movement for sustainability going and give me hope for our future.

– Aubury Freed, San Lorenzo High Intern



More Oyster Bay Restoration

Pamela Beitz (EBRPD) showing the interns how to clear a planting site.

Did you know Monarch butterflies are currently residing at Oyster Bay? San Lorenzo High interns got to see these beauties first hand this past weekend while engaging in more restoration work here at Oyster Bay. The butterflies were clustering in some pine trees, waiting for the day to warm up so they could go exploring for food and avoiding any photo opps.

After checking out the butterflies in the morning, the interns continued their work from last time: planting native flowering plants that can provide food for the butterflies. In just a short time, the team planted 2 monkey flowers, 4 blueblossums, 1 gumplant, and 8 goldenrods. After putting these plants in the ground, the group then pulled up broom and pampas grass seedlings (both invasive species). Some spots were challenging to dig in due to the large amount of rocks in the ground, but as it was their 3rd time out at Oyster Bay, the interns were able to work efficiently and with confidence.

The group ended the day with a discussion on plans for the future and how to get community members involved. Stay tuned for more information regarding an upcoming community event and a way to get active at Oyster Bay!

Interns digging a hole for their plant.


Preparing to Speak at the YES Conference


After a refreshing winter break, the San Lorenzo Earth Team interns reconvened and got straight to work to prepare for their next big event: the YES (Youth for the Environment and Sustainability) Conference! The YES Spare the Air Conference is an annual event held in the Bay Area each year. The purpose of this conference is to bring together youth from across the bay to discuss issues of sustainability, transportation, and air quality in their local communities. Our team will be presenting on their tree inventory project in relation to climate change concerns, even including an interactive activity for the audience to participate in.

To begin preparing for the event, we broke the presentation down into three parts/groups and started brainstorming ideas. The three groups are as follows: video production, PowerPoint presentation, and an interactive activity. After brainstorming ideas, we watched a short video on how to give interesting and effective presentations. Finally, we ended with a fun activity that helps practice public speaking skills. Each intern had to get up and talk about any topic they wished for 2 minutes while trying not to use the “forbidden words”: yeah, like, um, and you know. We kept a tally of how many times each of these words was said. “Like” and “um” were by far the most used forbidden words (no surprise there!). The team will continue practicing public speaking skills in the weeks to come.

Earth Team Interns Lead a Hike!

Unsurprisingly, our Earth Team interns love to get outside and enjoy nature! Read below to learn more.


On Saturday morning in December, I led a hike with my sister Aubury and our [hiking] club adviser Ms. Krist.


It took place on the northeast side of Lake Chabot, in the surrounding hills. The weather was perfect, the sun peeked out from behind the clouds and there was a nice breeze to keep us cool. About 10 people came on the hike, including myself, Aubury, and Tony, from Earth team, as well as 5 dogs.

I have always loved the outdoors; hiking, camping, climbing trees, and a lot of people that I know who go to my school don’t really have much access to these things so I helped create the hiking club to get more exposure to people. This was also to share my love of the environment and wilderness and hopefully get more people interested this field, especially at this time it’s incredibly important to have people who care about the environment and want to protect and preserve it. That’s the reason I got involved with Earth Team, I wanted to get more hands on experience. I’ve only been in it for a few months, however I have learned a lot in that short time through tree inventory, mostly about all the different trees in our area and how they’re beneficial.  It was cool to look up during the hike and be able to recognize what trees were there, there were lots of oak and bay trees as well as madrone trees that made nice archways over the path.

-Joleen Freed, San Lorenzo High Intern


Monarch Butterfly Habitat Creation at Oyster Bay!

Screen Shot 2017-12-16 at 2.14.03 PMOn a surprisingly gorgeous December morning, the San Lorenzo Earth Team interns were back at Oyster Bay to continue their restoration work. Last time, the team focused primarily on invasive species removal. This time they did the complete opposite – they planted native plant species!

The day was led once again by Pamela Beitz of East Bay Regional Parks (thanks Pam!). She showed the team all the steps necessary to plant our plants of the day. First, the planting sites needed to be cleared of duff and other ground cover using a McCloud. Next, small deep holes were dug using shovels and digging bars. After the hole was dug the right size, the plant was loosened from its container, removed, and had its roots “tickled”. Tickling the roots ensures that the roots will grow down and out instead of in a circle like a container would cause. After putting the plant in the hole and refilling with dirt, a layer of mulch was added around the plants in a ring. The new plantings were topped off with some water and ready to grow!


At this point, you may be asking, “What plants make good Monarch habitat?” If you know anything about these butterflies, your first guess at an answer might be Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca). Milkweed is an important plant for Monarch butterflies because they lay their eggs on these plants. However, the Monarchs don’t (and shouldn’t) lay their eggs at Oyster Bay. This location is just an over-wintering spot for the butterflies during their migration and instead need flowering plants to feed on. By planting native flowering plants instead of milkweed, we can ensure the butterflies get enough food and move on to the right spot to lay their eggs. Our Earth Team interns are happy to help these beautiful creatures persist in our community and will return to Oyster Bay soon! Until next time –


Lunchtime Urban Forestry Fun!


Near the end of the first semester, the San Lorenzo Earth Team interns ran a lunch time tabling session to inform their peers about urban forestry and its benefits. The team worked for 2 weeks to prepare materials for the event. Some students worked on creating two brochures: one on the environmental benefits of trees and the other on the social and economic benefits of trees (note: trees have a LOT of benefits!). Another group made a flyer that explained how to use Open Tree Map, the app where we log tree data. Some interns also made a general knowledge survey about trees so that they could gather data about what the public knows. They walked around with iPads and approached their peers to take the survey.

Not only did the team create educational materials but they also made a scavenger hunt game! Using a worksheet, players would need to find trees on campus using only a description of the tree. Once they found the tree, they could write down the species (which was posted on the tree). If they played the game they got a prize! The interns made wristbands and stickers to hand out for people who participated in the tabling session in some way, whether it was by taking they survey or reading through a pamphlet.


Never having hosted a tabling session before, the team learned a few key lessons. First, table location is a BIG DEAL! The table was set up near the outside eating area but there was a distinct lack of foot traffic. They decided a better location in the future would be in the hallway, where more people walk and its easier to draw people in. Another important lesson was that you need to be outgoing and enthusiastic so that people become interested in what you have to say. It was harder than they thought to get people to stop by the table. A final lesson was that having a game that sent people AWAY from the table made it hard to get them to come back. In the future, a game that stays at the table might get more people involved.

This event gave great experience in community outreach to the San Lorenzo team and they look forward to more opportunities to promote their project and inform the public. Over and out!


Oyster Bay Restoration Day Fun!

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Oyster Bay Regional Shoreline – what once was a landfill is now a regional park in development. The weekend before Thanksgiving, our teams from San Lorenzo High School and Skyline High School joined forces to help the restoration effort at this beautiful and lesser known shoreline location at the end of Williams St. in San Leandro.

Because the park area used to be a landfill, many steps must be taken to turn it into a suitable park for the public. The Park District has spent a lot of time importing fill soil to ensure the ground is stable and surface drainage is adequate. They also plan to place soil so as to promote tree and vegetation growth and to create landforms for a variety of public uses, including walking trails, a bicycle skills area, and an off leash dog park. They are even installing a disc golf course!

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The workday was led by Pamela Beitz from the East Bay Regional Parks District. First, she instructed our interns on how to remove two invasive plant species from the park – stinkwort and pampas grass. Some of the clumps of pampas grass were so big it took multiple people and several tools to remove them. It was hard work but as the morning progressed, the teams were able to work together to figure out the most efficient ways to remove the plants.

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Some students also helped collect and plant Buckeye seeds. The seeds are quite large and have a light colored spot that makes them look like the eye of a deer – hence the name “buckeye”. Collecting some of the seeds off the trees and planting them can help increase the chances that new seedlings will propagate. It will take some time to see the results of this effort, but it will be rewarding to come back in the future to see the natural development! The team looks forward to working more on this project in the next few months – until next time!


Heron Bay – Maintaining a Beautiful Landscape


Last week, our SLZ interns made their way to Heron Bay in San Leandro to participate in a litter clean up by the shoreline. We were happy to be led by Amy Evans of the Alameda County Resource Conservation District, who gave us a brief history of the area then helped us pick up litter.

Heron Bay is a housing community and marshland situated at the end of Lewelling Blvd., only about 10 minutes from San Lorenzo High’s campus. There are beautiful walking paths that wind through the marshlands and near the shoreline and connect as part of the Bay Trail. As we walked along the path, students took note of wildlife in the area, including egrets and feral cats.

When we reached the shoreline, students split into groups with gloves, trash grabbers, trash bags, and ipads to record our data using an app called the Marine Debris Tracker. The app allows you to record type and GPS location of all trash, which is then uploaded to our own website and map.

In about an hour, we collected 624 pieces of trash! Unsurprisingly, 75% of the total trash we cleaned up was plastic materials. (**Plastics contain toxic materials, are unable to biodegrade, and pose a strong threat to wildlife, who often eat the materials thinking the are food.**) On the pie chart below, you can see the breakdown of different trash categories:

Check out our more detailed map HERE!

By participating in the clean up, interns learned that not only is it satisfying to pick up trash, but it’s also FUN! Here are some things they had to say about the day:

It’s really nice knowing that you’re able to make a place more beautiful. It surprised me that new waves of trash wash up every time.                                – Tony Vuong

I really enjoyed going to Heron Bay. It was a fun experience. I was surprised to have seen all the trash that our shore is surrounded by.                              – Ariana Umildad

I wasn’t very surprised about the fact that there was a lot of trash. It’ kind of disappointing because you would expect people to be better            – Akiyah Jones

Lastly, we want to give a big thanks to Amy Evans for inviting us to work with her and providing inspiration to our interns in such a beautiful location!

Thanks for reading!


Interns attend Brower Awards

IMG_0646In mid October, San Lorenzo High interns joined Oakland Tech and Antioch High at the Brower Awards ceremony in San Francisco. This annual event highlights the work of youth around the country who have achieved many great things while working on a variety of environmental projects. Our interns listened to the winners give speeches and were inspired by many of the projects. Here is what one student had to say about the event:

I really like the girl who started the program of below 2 c°. That one stood out the most because of its ability to easily implement in school. I also love how she was able to influence the other schools around here and the student there. All of the awarded individuals made me feel empowered to make a change but this one made me want to apply her idea in my school. I Also really enjoyed the presentation of the group that took part in stopping projects that harm the environment. I know my fellow interns felt inspired because I could hear them cheering the loudest.

  • Charlie Pereda, SLZ Earth Team intern

The fun night out reinvigorated the interns and brought about an increased sense of purpose in the fight against climate change. Another cool point is that many of the winning projects were very similar to projects Earth Team has worked on and we hope one day our interns can apply for this award as well!