A Sight-Sea-Ing Kayak Adventure

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On Sunday, Oct 21st a group of twelve outdoor explorers participated in a sea kayaking adventure in the beautiful Tomales Bay! Environmental Traveling Companions guides led the day, most commonly known by ETC.

ETC believes that everyone, regardless of physical or financial limitations, should have the opportunity to experience the challenge and beauty of the wilderness.

Through this ETC adventure, participants were encouraged to overcome perceived limitations, attain greater personal freedom and confidence, and better understand themselves in relation to others and the environment.

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The group first started by learning all about the space they were in, with the help of a map of the Point Reyes National Seashore. Students learned about the indigenous populations that live(d) in the area and how they relied on the native plants and species for survival, how the tectonic plates maneuvered around the earth to create the physical landscape, and how the salty, freshwater combo makes for a unique ecosystem.

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Before heading out the water, participants were given an in-depth overview of the safety equipment and were soon ready to float on!

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The group paddled about 6 miles along Tomales Bay, and saw lots of beautiful animals including not one, not two, but three seals! Students were very intrigued by all the fantastic wildlife, some of the highlights were seeing a pelican, a dead jellyfish, and a weird little bug in the water.

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Throughout the day, students participated in a variety of team building activities. Including an activity where their senses were limited, and they had to work together to complete a task. It was a great day to be outdoors working together.

The group circled together to share their highlight from the day, in addition to one outdoor thing they were looking forward to or wanted to try. ETC Guides announced opportunities for students to continue kayaking through different programs they offer to high school youth. 

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Overall, the trip was a huge success. The weather was perfect, and attitudes were extremely positive. Check out what some of our students had to say about the day!

“The trip was very fun and eye-opening. I enjoyed learning about the animals in Tomales Bay. I also thought it was interesting that it had salt and fresh water. It was pretty tiring, but overall I had a good experience.” – Jaylin Kent, Pinole Valley High Earth Team Intern

“When I first stepped my body on the kayak and seen I was so low to the water I got a little scared. But on the way back I had more fun and enjoyed it more. It was very fun, and I would do it again.” – Fernando Almanza, Richmond High Earth Team Intern

“I really enjoyed this trip because I love water, I love how it feels, looks, etc. I feel like kayaking really got me closer to it.” – Itzel Sanchez, John F. Kennedy High Earth Team Intern

“it was fun but tiring, probably because it was my first time kayaking. all the guides were really nice, and I enjoyed getting to know people from other schools” – Nathalia Rocha, Skyline High Earth Team Intern

“I had a lot of fun, and it was good to see friends from other schools again.” – Amy White, Skyline High Earth Team Intern

“The trip was fun and engaging; I got closer with my fellow interns and the trip leader Jenna as well. I learned a lot about nature and the habitat around the area. I can’t wait to go on another trip” – Michael Chatham, Antioch High Earth Team Intern

“My experience at Tomales Bay has been a blast. Getting to know my fellow interns was wonderful, and the kayaking was an amazing ride.” – Kyle Milton, John F. Kennedy Earth Team Intern

Outdoor Explorers Program

Alhambra High Closes the Year Strong


Last Thursday, Alhambra High Earth Team closed the year stronger then ever.  This team has been faced with many challenges this semester and has over came all of them.  They are the smallest earth team within the program, yet one of the strongest.  An all female team, each young lady has had to step up to the plate taking on more responsibility to account for the smaller team, and each one of them succeeded with flying colors.  The team continued to engage the San Pablo community raising awareness about the many effects of litter on our bay, reaching over 1,600 peers in the community and their own campus in the second semester alone.  In addition to the increase in awareness and education, the team was able to prevent nearly 17,000 pieces of litter from entering the local watersheds and harming our Bay habitats and wildlife.  All interns have developed tremendously as professionals and can speak about their project to the public with ease and grace.

In celebration of all of their hard work, the interns were awarded certificates of achievement by their program coordinator, Jordan DeSilva, and Earth Team board president, Michele Korpos.  Seniors were decorated with green Earth Team cords to wear during graduation, and the team spent the afternoon enjoying the near by Martinez Marina and reflecting on their many great experiences throughout the semester.  There is no doubt that these humans will continue to enact change in the communities that they thrive in.


Interns Present to the San Pablo City Council


With the year coming to an end, our Alhambra High interns were eager to present their accomplishments to the San Pablo City Council.  Joined by three other teams that were focusing their efforts in the San Pablo/Richmond area, our interns were able to paint a story of the outcomes all their hard work produced.  Shradha Shakya, a junior at Alhambra High, spoke to the council about the goals the team had set for the semester and their allignment with the City’s Complete Green Streets Project. Arianna Aguilera, a senior at Alhambra High, followed speaking to the council about the many methods the team used to engage the community in their efforts to reduce waste and continued to use data to prove to the council how effective community engagement can be in reducing litter.  Dhzyia Miller-Ford, a senior as well, closed the presentation by speaking on the many methods the team has developed to reduce waste both in the Rumrill Blvd. community and on their own campus and the challenges the team overcame when planning for each event.


After the presentation it was clear the interns were feeling energized and proud.  Each council member made an effort to thank the students for their hard work and dedication.  It is through experiences like these that our students draw their inspiration, and the communities we work in realize the power of the youth.

Over 7,000 Pieces of Litter Removed During Rumrill Community Clean Up


Earth Day weekend was a successful one for Earth Team interns across the East Bay. Youth from Richmond, Martinez, and Oakland came together joined by many members of the Rumrill community, to reduce litter in the area, that is known to be harming wildlife, polluting water resources, and destroying habitat.

Alhambra High interns led the event flawlessly, giving speeches to the crowd about the work they have been doing to reduce litter and guiding nearly 100 participants through a litter clean up.  Elizabeth White, a representative of CA EPA, joined the interns to speak to the crowd about the ways they can make a change and future opportunities in the STEM field for upcoming professionals.  Amanda Booth, Environmental Program Analyst for the City of San Pablo, came out to support the event and help lead participants safely through the clean up.  In just one hour, the group of 92 collected 7,190 pieces of litter.  Prizes were given to the group that collected the most litter and LPS Richmond Band played a delightful set to round off the celebration.

Alhambra High interns spent weeks preparing for the day, and can proudly say they have planned and executed a community event.  Event space was donated by Mac Arthur Community Baptist Church, and long time advocate for the Rumrill community, and generous donations were given by Murphy Flooring, Subway, Trader Joe’s, Pizza My Heart, and Patagonia.  With out these donations and the support of the community this event would not have been what it was.

Here is a reflection from Rebecca Jochum about the day:

“From this experience I learned that you should never procrastinate, and we as a whole, did not. I also learned that public speaking is very difficult and scary. Lastly, I learned that you should not procrastinate on preparation and studying.

Overall I had one major challenge, preparation. I am an on the spot and wing-it type of person but this project involved lots of preparation and planning. During this project I needed to overcome this part of me, I needed my team for that part. They taught me that winging it is good occasionally, but readiness is always better. My team taught me great skills that I will always remember in the future.

My overall favorite part of the day was near the end. My favorite part was the communities input and cooperation during this event. I loved when we all got back from making a difference in the community and then we all talked. The community gave us their opinions and we are using them to make a difference. My favorite part of Earth Day was the sharing of ideas and the connecting that we did as a whole community. I also enjoyed working with my team to create that event, to bring the community together, and connect as a whole.”


Students Prepare for Community Engagement Event


Alhambra High interns have spent the year reducing litter and raising awareness about the effects of litter in the Rumrill neighborhoods of San Pablo.  They have removed over 8,000 pieces of litter during their after school assessments, held community input sessions to gain support and advice from the community about how to best focus their efforts, and they have even held on campus events to raise awareness in their fellow youth.

For the past two weeks, the interns have been working away to prepare the final details for an event they have been planning for all year–The Rumrill Community Clean Up.  This event will combine their efforts to reduce litter and to engage the community.  Interns have spent time requesting sponsorships and donation to help fund the event, the have conducted outreach and created flyers to help promote the event, they have secured a central location, they have coordinated the majority of the day’s logistics, and they have prepared speeches to give to the roughly 100 participants expected to attend.  With nerves high, excitement has also been incredibly high, several interns proclaiming, “I can’t believe the event is already here” and “Im nervous, but so excited”.   This weekend’s event will be an event that will push the interns to utilize the skills and knowledge they have been gaining all year long.


STEM Summer Jobs and Internships Presented by Rising Sun and MUSD


Not only are Alhambra interns using their meetings to reduce litter on Rumrill Blvd but they are using that time to develop professional networks as well.  Last week Rona Zollinger, MUSD College and Career Pathway TSA, met with the team to discuss an upcoming career fair and all the ways she serves the school district in ensuring that students succeed after high school.  Rona passed out business cards and encouraged interns to contact her with any job/college related concerns or questions.

Shelby Sugierski, regional manager for Rising Sun, also attended to speak to the interns about an upcoming summer job opportunity.  Rising Sun is recruiting green minded youth to join there team of energy-auditors to assess and improve the energy efficiency of the Martinez area.  All interns were encouraged to apply and were given tips about how to succeed when applying for a job.


Stem Career Opportunities Presented to Earth Team


Earth Team is not just committed to its environmental projects, but also to developing the next generation of green leaders.  Be it through the implementation of service learning projects that give inters the hard skills they need to succeed, public speaking and community engagement opportunities that provide interns with the soft skills they need to succeed, or actually presenting them with opportunities after Earth Team that gives the chance to succeed.

On March 15, 2018, Shelby Sugierski of Rising Sun, and Rona Zollinger of MUSD, joined Earth Team to present to the group about an upcoming summer job opportunity as an energy specialist with Rising Sun and an upcoming career fair presented by MUSD.  Interns were extremely engaged, asking questions and showing real interest in the possibility of working in the environmental field for the summer.  When the presentation was over, several interns stuck around to ask follow up questions and receive applications.  It is a rewarding site to see watching these young people make environmentalism a significant part of their lives and Earth Team strives to bridge the gap into STEM careers or education after graduation.


1,715 Pieces of Litter Removed from Rumrill


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?”


Earth Team Hosts a Community Input Session


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.”