Last Saturday, Earth Team Interns from Alhambra High met, bright and early, at 8am to return to Rumrill Blvd and conduct litter assessments at all three of their hotspots of focus. There team is smaller this semester but their efforts are just as impactful. In just three hours, they collected over 1700 pieces of litter; they prevented over 1700 pieces of litter from polluting the Bay.
In addition to cleaning up the streets, interns had a chance to promote their upcoming Earth Day Clean-up on April 21st @ MacArthur Community Baptist Church on Rumrill Blvd. Community members were very interested in a group of high schoolers out early on a Saturday morning working to clean up the streets. Several locals came out to thank them for their work and ask how they could get involved. The owner of the 7-11 at hotspot #1 even offered the interns free drinks to reward them for their efforts. Spirits were very high that day and interns expressed a great sense of purpose.
Here’s what intern Autumn Phillips had to say about the day:
“Last Saturday, we picked up trash on each of our hot spots. The community members seemed really confused until I told them what we were doing. Once I told them, they got really excited and wanted to participate as well. It felt good to be recognized but also made me think, these people are so happy to see a change, why haven’t they come out and tried to make a change?”
On February 24, 2018, Alhambra High Earth Team hosted a Community Input Session at R & R Coffee in Richmond. The goal of the session was to engage the Richmond/San Pablo community to provide input on how interns could best focus their efforts to reduce litter and educate the community on the effects of litter on the environment.
Interns were very nervous to be interacting so many strangers, and even more nervous about how these strangers would respond to their requests. But after just a few minutes they realized that the community was very interested in the work they were doing and wanted to help in any way they could. Sixty-seven people showed up to participate, ages ranging from 2-72, and the interns had a chance to engage with each and everyone them. An hour into the event, confidence had sky rocketed and the students were taking charge explaining there efforts to date and how they planned to continue into the future. Participants were very supportive of the interns ideas for the future, but gave great insight to specific locations and sources of litter to target. All in all the day was a great success in so many ways.
Here is what intern Khate Estrada had to say about the event:
The time where I felt the best is when I realized we were doing something that would impact and benefit the community and the environment. I was pretty nervous for the event since I knew I would have to talk to people and I’m not very good at public speaking and talking to strangers. After the community input event, I felt more confident in myself and used to approaching strangers to ask them for their input. I feel good.”
On February 8, 2018 Alhambra High Earth Team gathered back in the classroom to collaborate and set goals and actions for the months to come. The team has been tasked with raising awareness about the effects of litter in the Rumrill Blvd communities of Richmond and San Pablo, raising awareness about the effects of litter on their own campus, and reducing the amount litter found on Rumrill Blvd. To date Interns have removed 3,223 pieces of litter from three hotspots along Rumrill Blvd. They have a goal of 10,000 pieces by the end of the school year and are on track to accomplish this.
In regards to community and on campus outreach the interns spent hours brainstorming outputs and activities for the semester that could help them reach these outcomes. They are currently preparing for an upcoming community input event on February 24th and a large community Earth Day event on April 21st as means to spread the word about their project goals and gain local advice on “next steps” to take to shift social norms away from littering. The team also came up with several interactive events that could be done on campus to raise awareness including a litter scavenger hunt, campus chalk art and in class or in club presentations and collaboration.
Alhambra high never ceases to amaze when it comes to team work and planning and we are looking forward to a very productive and exciting semester.
“I’ve learned a lot about how much trash actually affects our earth and a lot more about cigarette butts. People might know that they pollute water and the earth, but I never knew they add chemicals and other toxins that can leech out into the water. I never realized how many were being littered either.
I wasn’t expecting to get so in to this internship. Once I really started getting involved and learning things I actually love our litter weekly meetings and our monthly events, it’s so much fun.
My favorite event was the Wanlass Park tree planting (pictured above) because I had a lot of fun working with other schools and actually making an immediate and direct impact on the earth. I also liked the pizza and playing with children at the park afterwards. Everyone got into and we were all tired and dirty and hungry and having a blast. I will never forget that day it was so much fun.
Being in a leadership role for the second semester doesn’t feel very different. I do feel like having more knowledge about our project puts me in sort of a more influential position though, like a role model. I am going to sign up next year, so I hope we can keep working on Rumrill and next year go back and see if we made difference.” -Autumn
After a much deserved winter break, Alhambra Earth Team interns returned to Rumrill Blvd. for their first litter assessment of the semester. Using the Marine Debris Tracker the team was able to track all the litter collected by GPS and categorize it by type of litter. The Marine Debris Tracker places collected trash into one of 8 categories: Plastic, Metal, Glass, Rubber, Cloth, Paper and Lumber, Fishing Gear, and Other Items. Returning interns took the lead guiding new interns through the litter assessment protocols and teaching them the walking patterns that they developed in the previous months. In just 30 mins the team collectively logged and removed nearly 800 pieces of trash from the site.
Several community members stopped the students with questions about their work which returning interns were more than happy to answer. New interns were thrilled with their first experience giving back to the community and protecting the bay.
On January 11, 2018 Earth Team Program Associate Joelle Alley traveled to Alhambra Hight to present to the Earth Team about the research she had collected regarding the effects of cigarette waste on aquatic environments. Based off this research Earth Team staff developed an easy to use calculator that simulates the amounts of the top ten heavy metals found in cigarette waste for a specific number of cigarette butts.
Earth Team interns will use this tool to calculate the amount of heavy metals the have prevented from reaching the Bay through their litter assessments. Just last semester Earth Team prevented nearly 3,000 cigarette butts from reach the waters of the Bay.
Interns spent the remainder of the meeting experimenting with the calculator a researching the effects of the heavy metals. Here is what several interns had to say about research:
“I learned how to solve problems by getting the necessary research done and by getting help from my peers”. -Dhzyia
“I learned that in order to solve a problem you have to look further into it then what you see immediately. Like with cigarette waste and the heavy metals in them. The cigarette butts aren’t the only issue, you ave to look farther into it and see that even the way the metals are mined is damaging to the environment”. -Madison
On December 14, 2017 Alhambra High Earth Team had their final meeting of the semester. This was a day to celebrate and reflect. The team enjoyed a potluck and music and I had the opportunity to interview each intern about there experience this semester. Interns were asked to give feedback on how they felt the program could improve, how they felt they had succeeded and areas in which they would like to focus more effort in for their own growth. In the mix of the semester it is rare that I can find time to sit down with interns one on one and I feel this time and their feedback will make next semester all that much more successful. Alhambra High Earth Team continues to perform at higher and higher levels and I am truly looking forward to watching the success they have in the months to come.
My name is Shradha Shakya, a junior from Alhambra high school. I have known about the Earth team Internships for a few years now. When I was a sophomore, we had Vita and Jenna come in and present Earth Team internships to our class. They had me hooked because of all the amazing opportunities they had to offer. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to join because of my schooling. I was still able to learn about what Earth Team does and what the Interns do because my cousin and my friends were a part of Earth Team. Before I wanted to be on Earth Team because of the name. It sounds selfish and childish but honestly I wanted to be in it for my resume and college applications. Now that I see the problems around me and actually get to make a change, the name isn’t that significant to me.
My favorite experience with my team has been Leaf 2017. First of all, I had never been camping before so this was honestly one of the most memorable things I will ever do because I love the outdoors. Packing for Leaf, the excitement and thrill was amazing. I have great friends on Earth team and most of them were going on this trip. The morning of the trip we had to meet up outside a bart station. Me and my mom picked up three of my friends and drove to the bart station. That ride itself was a blast. Then we took the bus to the camp site. We arrived at the location and instantly I had started making friends. Everyone was so nice and having people so close to my age really helped avoid the awkwardness.
All the activities from the tent setup to the food prep was so fun because they were all team activities. I had never put up a tent before and the experience of just putting one up was great because I was with tent-mates, who had no idea what they were doing either, but we managed to put up the tent really nicely which was awesome. Later that night, after all the fun activities and beach games, we got to have a campfire. Again this was a first, I had never been in a campfire before or even made smores. This is usually surprising to most people but I didn’t grow up camping because it’s just me and my mom.
Our team’s project this year is to clean up Rumrill Road in Richmond and make it into a new environment. We have been working onsite and with the city to help make Rumrill cleaner and a better place. Currently we are planning to present the community our ideas to get them on board and help us out. I grew up in Richmond and coincidentally on the corner of Rumrill Road. I lived in that area for 4 years and then later moved to Martinez. So to be a part of a project that takes me back to my old community and helps me give back to them means so much to me. Knowing that I am who I am because my experiences there and the people there makes me so thankful to have an opportunity to give back to them.
There has been a lot that I have learned from being a part of this team. Being on this team makes me realize that anyone can make a difference in their society and that there are so many ways to help. All someone needs to do is look into something a little bit more to find out how to help. I want to be able to help people in the future. No matter if it’s public health, social services or business. Through my experience at Earth Team, I hope to contribute my knowledge to any possible field.
On November 16, 2017 Alhambra High Earth Team met to find discuss solutions to the litter problem on Rumrill Blvd. The team brainstormed ideas for outreach and determined that they should have some kind of brochure or flyer to pass out when they are conducting their assessments. They considered the fact that they are often stopped by pedestrians who are curious about their work, and that having some material to pass out to supplement their conversation would be helpful in spreading the word about the litter problem in San Pablo.
Below is a reflection from one of the Alhambra interns about the day:
Written by Jaida Chellew
Making flyers and pamphlets for Earth Team was not only a fun experience in which the members got to use their creativity, but also a great learning experience that helped better my understanding of the goals that Earth Team is working to achieve with this year’s project on Rumrill. My partner and I had the task of making a flyer discussing the most common waste that we have come across and what effects it has on the environment. My partner, Dalvir, and I made a flyer based on information we researched and statistics around the amount of cigarette waste in America every year. We included some images of Earth Team at different locations in Rumrill and projects we have worked on. I am excited to pass our flyers out to the community in hopes of easing knowledge into the minds of the residents and helping people understand how they affect the environment around them.