Natural History Museum

Last week we had the chance to get a behind-the-scenes-experience with the Ornithology department at the Natural History Museum, which is one of my FAVORITE museums here in Los Angeles. Every time I go, I HAVE to check out the their bird room, and I have always wondered if that’s all they had….well they don’t! They have thousands upon thousands of different birds from all over the world, it’s AMAZING!

We met up with Kimball L. Garrett, the Ornithology Director and he gave the grand tour of the department. He took us to their rooms that have THOUSANDS of different species of birds that have been found or taken in for science purposes and are now now curated and kept safely. Mr. Kimball was telling us that one of the biggest problems they have in this room is keeping beetles out. He even showed us the traps they us, and many of them had several beetles stuck to them.

We were also able to go into the room where the volunteers were dissecting the birds, cleaning them and stuffing them back together. It was VERY cold in there, and it had this smell that reminded me of that time in high school where I was forced to dissect a frog. Some of the volunteers had been there for 15+ years!!! Wow, talk about dedication. It was such a treat to be able to see to all the work that really goes on to be able to put a new bird out in display at the museum.

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Diversity and Inclusiveness

“Diversity in the world is a basic characteristic of human society, and also the key condition for a lively and dynamic world as we see today.”

— Jinato Hu

A main part of this internship has involved workshops and discussions about diversity and inclusiveness in the natural resources.  Our first discussion about this was together as a group, back in February during our weeklong “Celebrate Shorebirds” intern training in San Diego.  Natasha Kerr- Program Coordinator and Dr. Sue Bonfield- Executive Director, presented on their National Science Foundation funded research on Latinos and the barriers to their participation in science education along with how to improve outreach to this audience.

Learn more about how EFTA is connecting cultures at:

Along with the research presented by Sue and Natasha, we also had roundtable discussions about this topic.  It was really interesting to hear from all my fellow interns about their perspective on diversity and inclusiveness for Latinos in the natural resources.  The trend in the ’80’s for the government agencies was to increase diversity in the workforce by hiring women…and it has now shifted to culturally increasing diversity.  It is really interesting, and not surprising, that this movement has gained a lot of momentum over the past several years with organizations such as LatinoOutdoors and Hispanic Access-who was a 2013 EFTA intern, Lesly, will be going on a weeklong excursion to see six national parks with a group of fellow Latino students!

Continuing with the trend of learning more about diversity in the natural resources, a couple of weeks ago I attended a conference hosted by the Colorado Alliance for Environmental Education (CAEE) on how to better have diversity and inclusiveness in environmental education.  The day’s discussion was centered upon their recent agenda to have a diversity and inclusiveness plan on how environmental organizations can increase diversity in their workplace. The common agenda goals set on this plan are to:

  1. Increase the awareness of the value of diversity and inclusiveness in the environmental education field
  2. increase inclusiveness skills among environmental educators
  3. increase the diversity of environmental educators
  4. increase the diversity of the audiences being served by environmental education

This movement to make our parks and open spaces more culturally and ethnically diverse is one I feel we can all be on board with…our parks should represent how the rest of our country looks: diverse!

Engaging Latino audiences in partnership with the Americas Latino Eco Festival during a bird walk at a local wildlife refuge.

Engaging Latino audiences in partnership with the Americas Latino Eco Festival during a bird walk at a local wildlife refuge.

Exciting Things to Come

This week I have worked on more habitat restoration and I have been monitoring the Least Terns at the Venice site. We have started to plant native grasses at Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook in places where we have weeded. It looks great when all the weeds have been removed and there tiny bunch grass has been recently planted. I am hopeful that many of the grasses that were planted will survive and the area will look a lot different than it did with the weeds.

The Least Tern monitoring is also looking promising. The terns are sticking around this time and the crows seem to be staying away for the most part. There was a walk-through of the exclosure to check for nests and eggs and they found over forty nests! This is very exciting news, and I am keeping my fingers crossed that we will be seeing Least Tern chicks soon.

This week I also attended an orientation to become a volunteer at the International Bird Rescue Center. They deal with injured water birds and try to rehabilitate them to release them into the wild again. I will learn to handle the birds while they are being taken care of and I will learn how to prepare their food when they are too weak to eat on their own. I am very excited to begin volunteering and to learn many new things while helping injured birds get back to health.

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Jr. Birding

About a week and a half ago, EFTA headquarters office hosted our first Jr. Birder activity!  We offered this activity in conjunction with a nature day put together by Americas Latino Eco Festival (ALEF).  As part of the upcoming ALEF festival in September, there are various programs focusing on the theme of nature and migratory birds.   The idea behind this particular activity was to have a multigenerational (a senior care group, Circle of Care, joined families with children to participate in the day’s activities) nature day to learn, draw, and appreciate the nature and birds at Sawhill Ponds.  Each participant was given a nature journal to observe nature and draw or write anything that inspired them.  These nature journals will then be put on display at the Americas Latino Eco Festival in September.

photo 1-1We started our activity with our friend from City of Boulder Open Space and Mountain Parks, Dave, who led a bird-walk throughout Walden Ponds.  We brought extra binoculars and had fun stopping to let people track down the circling hawk in the sky, Red-winged Blackbirds in the cattails along the pond, and even a Great Blue Heron across the pond.  The bird-walk ended up being a little longer than we anticipated (a little over an hour), so by the time we had walked to find a shady spot to do our kid activity, the kids were already a little anxious to go back to the picnic area for snacks.  However, they did a great job with our song map activity!  We had the kids sit in a spot where they could listen to the sounds around them, and the idea of the song map activity is to mark down where you hear a sound in relation to where you are sitting along with marking your surroundings.  The kids did a great job!  We heard a nest of baby birds in a tree, airplanes flying above, and a flock of geese flying into the water for a landing.   I really enjoyed gaining more experience in working with kids and hosting kid activities, and I feel more prepared to lead the next one!

Birds Abound Around You-song map activity

   Birds Abound Around You-song map activity

Example of activity

Example of activity

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Nuestra Tierra

Come make  bird with me!

This past Saturday I had the chance to have my own table at the Nuestra Tierra Earth Day event at Olvera Street in downtown Los Angeles. I had the chance to meet people from Tree People, Marcos from Audubon YES program, and an organization that is trying to get the San Gabriel Mountains to be listed as a National Park. I even got to plant my own mint leaves and peas in biodegradable coconut vases but my brother left them at a restaurant.

Being that the event was held at Olvera Street, we had a lot of Hispanic families come out. I got to play a little migration game with the kids, show them how to properly use a compass, and I also brought along crafts so that the kids could make their own bird…some were very creative. A little boy even turned his into a bracelet!

Showing him how to use a compass photo 2

I was pretty nervous in the beginning since I didn’t know what to expect, or what kind of people would stop by, and we did get some questionable individuals…I guess that Los Angeles for ya!

Many of the kids seemed quite interested in learning more about “Why Birds Matter” and what they can do to help protect them. When a child is very interested and wanting to learn more about what you are trying to show them, it brings a smile to my face knowing that I can cause a little bit of a change in a child.I really enjoyed my time at the Nuestra Tierra event and I hope we are able to do more of these now that I understand what I can improve in.

Till next time…