48 AP Environmental Science students and teachers visited the Mt. Diablo summit for a field day led by volunteers from the Save Mount Diablo organization on April 23.
Save Mount Diablo, which was established in 1971, is a nonprofit whose primary goal is to preserve lands on and around Mount Diablo and prevent the spread of urban sprawl. Representatives of the organization made presentations to AP Environmental Science classes the week preceding the trip, looking to recruit new members and educate the students about the mountain’s natural values.
During the field trip students helped plant valley oaks, California buckeyes, and coyote brush on a property adjacent to a creek in order to “block soil erosion and make the area for habitable for riparian species,” according to APES teacher Tren Kauzer. By the afternoon’s end, the students had put 100 new plants in the ground. After planting and lunch, the students were given half an hour of “solo nature time” to enjoy the mountain’s natural scenery.
The day was enjoyed by students and teachers alike. “I love blue-collar work and planting trees, so that was fun. It was fun to swing a shovel and stuff like that,” said senior Christian Meckfessel. “It was kinda like Yosemite, but smaller. It was cool.”
“I thought it was a perfect combination of community service- we planted a hundred plants, and many hands make light work, and I really liked that the Save Mount Diablo people really impressed on students that they really made a difference that day, getting 100 plants in the ground is a huge impact,” said APES teacher Jane Kelson. “It was a win-win."
The teachers stressed the importance of getting students outdoors. “We had some students who had some ants on them and they were freaking out and screaming, and that was very telling,” said Kauzer. “I think there are some Campo students who go out into nature all the time, but many of them don’t, and so Mrs. Kelson and I wanted to give all students the opportunity to go outside, to be in a natural environment that is relatively unaffected by humans. To protect nature, you have to enjoy nature.”
This message was not lost on the students. “It definitely made me more aware of things I can do to help,” said Meckfessel.
Another main purpose of the trip was to utilize the knowledge students had gained thus far in the course. “For the APES classes, they were able to use a lot of thing they’d learned over the course of the year,” said Kelson. “For example, we were repairing riparian habitats, and students knew what ‘riparian habitat’ meant. We were making a habitat corridor, and students know the importance of a habitat corridor.”
This was Campolindo’s 1st year working with Save Mount Diablo. “They had only done [this field trip] twice before- they had done it with JM, and that went really well, and they had done it with Cal State East Bay with college students, so we were one of the first high schools to ever do it with them,” explained Kauzer, who added that the trip went very well. “We’ve already told [Save Mount Diablo] that if they have the time, we would love to do this every year.”
“I was listening to some student conversations as they were planting, and I heard students saying that they felt the work was taxing, it was hard, but it was also really satisfying,” added Kelson. “And the fact that anyone can go by there years from now and see these plants growing and see the habitat being restored as a result of the work we did I think is great.”
~Article by Madeleine Singh published in La Puma, May 7, 2018
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