True restoration and conservation work requires educated and fiercely dedicated teams of people to have success in protecting these critical habitats in the long term
Six of the Tidal Influence interns just finished their time learning and participating at the Los Cerritos Wetlands and Colorado Lagoon. Here are their thoughts on their time spent with us!
The most important thing that I learned from this internship was that environmental restoration is basically a huge experiment in terms of success. We don't always have the best answers or solutions to the problems at hand and it makes science seem less precise than I previously perceived! This internship has definitely added diversity to my work experience. I did tasks that I did not know were part for restoration work such as assisting with small group management, providing nursery care, learning about irrigation and sprinkler systems and helping do minor repairs.
My favorite flora was the Cholla cactus (Cylindropuntia fulgida), because it was a challenge to plant and it always presented an element of danger during events! My favorite fauna is the Snowy Egret (Egretta thula). I really enjoy watching them hunt and I like they're wispy plumage.
The best advise that I can give to future interns is to not procrastinate on journals! Not because your being graded or anything, but because keeping a detailed journal allows you to look back and appreciate your time as an intern. Hardest part is dealing with the weather and some volunteers but as long as you invest yourself in the program, you'll walk away with great memories and experiences!
The most important thing that I learned from this internship was the flora and fauna of the wetland, as well as the anatomy of the local ecosystem. My advice to the new interns, is to love what you do, and take the most out of the experience. As long as you go home with something new, the time and experience will not go to waste.
My favorite flora is the Beach Evening Primrose (Camissoniopsis cheiranthifolia). Both the name and the flower it’s self is attractive. For the fauna, it has to be the Mourning Dove. The calling sound they make is very unique and owl-like, and I can easily distinguish them anywhere.
The most important thing that I learned from this internship was how to restore a wetland. Obviously, that entails much more than just 1 thing, but I learned so much from this experience. It gave me an idea of the blueprint of knowledge and understanding for everything that has to go into the planning and restoring from start to finish of bringing back a natural habitat. It has also taught me that networking is huge, public outreach and education is a must, researching all the species (whether they be native or non-native), and then all the politics and business side are incredibly important too! This internship was 100% valuable in building up my skill set and experience for future jobs. I think my focus in marine biology will be wetland restoration and the few places I have had the chance at applying to volunteer for all have similar protocol. All the applications ask for previous knowledge/skills, and I am now able to put so much down for those categories all from what I have learned with Tidal Influence! I really never imagined I would have all the knowledge I do know about this field and am so happy and thankful to have had the opportunity to learn and do so much.
My advice to future interns would be to put as much time and energy as you can into the internship. It's hard with school and work, but I was always happy to be outside planting or pulling weeds then stuck at school studying. It was a nice time to relax and escape from school and the more you put into it the more knowledge you'll retain with you and the more familiar you'll become with all the species. The hardest part for me was just juggling my crazy schedule around and wishing I had been able to have more availability to have more flex hours. I think the most rewarding part was seeing all the outcome of all the hard work we had put in. I also really valued the work I got to do with Julie and Jeff because those were outside experiences I would have never got to have! I also really enjoyed everything I did at all the events (even when pulling weeds in desert weather), so even though I was super busy this semester I was a lot happier vs. when I worked at jobs that were stressful and a bad environment.
My favorite fauna was the Ana's hummingbird (Calypte anna) because all the information I learned about them was fascinating (how people in the New World thought of them, Native American stories about them, their habits and character), plus I was super excited to be able to identify the different hummingbirds we have. But also a tie with the Pacific green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas) because as a marine bio major I love learning about threatened species and to find out so much about a group that practically lives down the street from me was awesome! My favorite flora would have to have been 4 winged saltbush (Atriplex canescens) because I found it interesting that a lot of our plants had "cousins" that were non-native species and comparing them. The 4 winged saltbush was native species and my favorite fact about it was that it needed to be under constant water threat or else it wouldn't survive, it also excretes all of the salt it takes from the soil and pushes it out of its leaves.
I think the most important thing that I got out of this internship was the real world application of my studies to this real world restoration situation. I absolutely, without a doubt, believe that this internship was valuable in building my skill set for future jobs. I now have experience in the field; doing hard physical work, learning plant and animal species names, working with the public, team work, and problem solving. The biggest thing is that all of these skills will help me get closer to my future goals working in the field I love. My advice for future interns would be something that Jeff said when we were just starting. He said to get as much out of it as you can. Be as involved as you can and go to as many things as you can. I wish I had more time to devote to this internship, but I was thankful to partake in some other opportunities such as the fish seines that were offered. The hardest part about the internship was probably just in the beginning because it can be intimidating and learning the procedure of how the program runs but once you get the hang of it and start learning plant and animals names it becomes easier and a whole lot of fun! The most valuable part would be talking to the staff and learning everything and anything you can from them, asking them tons of questions and getting advice from them.
My favorite flora is a tie between Black Mustard (Brassica nigra) and Mexican Fan Palm (Washingtonia robusta) because of the history element of both plants. The black mustard was spread along the padres trail to mark it (little did they know what they were doing) and the mexican palm fan became a symbol of southern California through ornamental gardening craze in the early twentieth century sometimes only planting them 40-50 feet apart. Fascinating! My favorite fauna was the California Least Tern (Sternula antillarum browni) because it is an endangered species so it was interesting to learn about ways their threats and ways they are trying to manage them. For instance, by using military lands and abandoned air bases as nesting sites, or how LA port tried to create a nesting site through imported sand and predator traps!
It is difficult to select the single most important thing I learned through this internship. I would guess that because I valued so many things I learned, important knowledge gained has to be the overall ah-ha moment that protecting wetlands system like Los Cerritos Wetlands requires far more than a few volunteer plantings and trash pickups. True restoration and conservation work requires educated and fiercely dedicated teams of people to have success in protecting these critical habitats in the long term. I understand now that it can take a lifetime of work to see the restoration of a few acres of wetlands and it requires constant attention, research and support networks to sustain. Over the course of the internship I learned the most important thing without really noticing, though it may take a lifetime of work to restore and protect any wetland acreage, it is worth it. I now understand the worth of a life dedicated to protecting and advocating for the wetlands. I never thought I would feel as strongly as I do now about the importance of the wetlands. The internship is invaluable in skill building for future positions. It involves using an array of extremely important professional skills which include but are not limited to; independent research, professional speaking, professional writing, public outreach, leadership, field surveying and identification techniques, coordinating volunteer groups; species-specific plant care. Leadership at Tidal Influence provides any support interns need if requested regarding help finding jobs after their internship and are always willing to provide meaningful and honest advice and references for the job search.
This internship was invaluable in skill building for future positions. It involves using an array of extremely important professional skills which include but are not limited to; independent research, professional speaking, professional writing, public outreach, leadership, field surveying and identification techniques, coordinating volunteer groups; species-specific plant care. Leadership at Tidal Influence provides any support interns need if requested regarding help finding jobs after their internship and are always willing to provide meaningful and honest advice and references for the job search.
My favorite flora is Heliotrope (Heliotropium curassavicum) and my favorite fauna is California two-spot octopus (Octopus bimaculoides).