For the first month of my internship with US Fish and Wildlife, I will be working closely with MERITO (Multicultural Education for Resources Issues Threatening Oceans). They are doing beach camps for the month of July, mostly for 3rd graders. The beach camps focus in teaching the children the outdoors but also how to be scientist by collecting data and being out in the field. I have been working closely with the MERITO team to get prepared to teach in the Beach Camps starting July. They have been teaching me about the intensive work they do with the children in the community and also the research they conduct themselves.
Rocío Lozano-Knowlton (Executive Director of MERITO Foundation) along with Leslie Magana (Environmental and Citizen Science specialist) led the training at the beach. I learned so many incredible things from them, which made the experience so much more exciting. Learning about the different habitats at the beach is amazing and mind blowing. There are countless species of fish, birds, mammals, invertebrates, and endless about of plankton. Both Rocio and Leslie did an incredible job describing why it is important to take care of the ocean and its surroundings, talking about the smallest thing in the ocean (plankton) to the largest animal in the planet (the blue whale), providing details on why all ends of the spectrum are important.
I also got to learn about the creatures that live along the shore of the beach, some of them attach to a rock by the jetty and others that live under the sand. I got to see some mussels, some really big anemones, and crabs that came in different colors. I felt like a real scientist learning how to collect data, measuring the crabs, and finding myself very excited about looking for crabs. We looked along the beach for Sand Crabs, Rocio taught us how to use the equipment properly and sent us out to look for them. Looking for Sand Crabs is one of the activities we will be teaching the kids.
This all made me think about how little I got exposed to the beach as a child, I have lived in Ventura County for around 15 years, and this was one of the first times where I got to learn in detail about the beach. That is why working at the beach camp this July will be very personal to me, because I will relate to the children that sometimes do not get the opportunity to learn about their own backyard, the beach! Little things such as getting close to a rock to see what lives in, on, and sometimes under it can be so important for children that do not get to experience nature that closely. Getting children to love nature and experience it hands on is part of the goal, knowing that the team is so passionate about what they do sure helps a lot. I am looking forward to finally start the beach camps with MERITO’s team and finally getting children out to the field to experience everything in person again
Agency: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Program: US Fish & Wildlife Service
Location: Ventura Fish and Wildlife Office