Build, Create, & Restore @ Redwood Regional Park

Ephemeral art (n.) : art which lasts only a short period of time

What is ephemeral art? How can art and nature bring people together? Where can you find art in nature?

These questions were explored at Build, Create, & Restore, a recent event in Redwood Regional Park hosted by Zach Pine, environmental artist, and the East Bay Regional Parks District. All 14 Richmond High Earth Team had the chance to attend this event and they had a great time! The day was centered around the “Create-With-Nature Pathway”, which is a section of trail at Redwood Regional Park where the public can partake in making art with nature.

The entrance sign to the Create-With-Nature Pathway.

Along the sides of the pathway are areas partitioned off by logs for people to create art in. The purpose is not to create lasting works, but rather “ephemeral”, or short-lived, art. Not only does this allow people to show their creativity and enjoy the beauty of the redwood forest, but it also brings people together and can be a therapeutic activity.

The first part of the day was spent restoring the pathway. The pathways are lined with logs, and these logs eventually rot away to the point that they should be replaced. The students were mixed together with other community members attending the event and split into teams. The teams worked to find the right sized fresh logs to replace the old ones; some were so large that a special tool was needed to carry them. Shallow dips were dug in the ground so that the logs could fit snugly along the path.

Log being carried to its new home on the path.

After restoring the pathway’s borders and eating a quick lunch, Zach invited the group to try their hand at creating some of their own pieces of art. Most people worked in small groups to create whatever came to mind. To wrap up the experience, everyone in attendance worked on a few projects together, culminating in a bird’s nest, a multi-room log cabin, and a free-form piece with no concrete subject. The Richmond High interns were happy to do something a bit different than the norm and had a ton of fun! Here are what one intern had to say about the experience:


I really liked our outing to redwood Regional Park on Saturday. I had never been there before and I thought it was really pretty. I liked being able to interact with other people in a setting where technology isn’t a distraction. It was nice to just get to appreciate the nature and people around us. I also liked the art making because it was a judgement free zone where we could create something without it having to mean anything or even be good So it was very interesting getting to create art and music with others.

-Valeria Rocha, Richmond High intern

Interested in environmental art? Click here to check out Zach Pine’s website.
Interested in checking out the trail?? Click here for more info.




Reflecting On The Semester, Fall 2017

As 2017 came to a close, interns at Richmond High took some time to reflect on their experience with Earth Team thus far. From litter clean ups and murals to planting trees, the team had a lot to accomplish. Here are what some interns had to say:

So far in the first semester it has been fun. Being able to go and do tree inventory, cleaning up local parks and educating others on environmental issues makes me feel accomplished. Knowing that I am helping out my community in some way, shape or form makes me feel that I am actually doing something to better my community. Being an intern has helped me improve on my teamwork skills since you have to be able to work with others. So far I have learned how to plant trees and plants and how to distinguish different trees by their leaves. Overall Earth Team has been a learning experience and I can’t wait till next semester.

-Erika Gonzalez, Richmond High Intern


I was one of the Earth team interns who joined this internship a couple weeks late and it was honestly one of the best experiences. I learned and met a lot of new people that I didn’t know or talk to before. I don’t really think it affected me in a bad way other than the fact that I just had to learn how to manage my time. Then again, having to manage my time is something I’ve gotten used to which wasn’t really a problem for me. I learned a lot from being in earth team. One of the many things that will always stick to me is how careful one has to be when planting, caring, and looking over a tree. It’s not as easy as you may think. It’s so much more than just digging a hole and placing it then covering that hole back up. You have to measure it precisely to the right amount, place it in the right way and look after it even after you’ve planted it. It made my semester a lot more stressful because sometimes I couldn’t attend a couple either after school meetings or weekend due to family issues but I had to figure out a way to because I didn’t want to miss an event/meeting. I always figured it out.

-Cynthia Mendoza, Richmond High Intern


This is my second year with Earth Team and it was been a great experience. I got to meet new people and plant a lot of trees. I get to go to events to help our community and have hands on experience to plant a tree. We get to learn a lot about climate change and ways to improve it. I get excited when I talk about the events we have done and share how fun it is to be part of earth team. Even though it may be fun to be part of Earth Team, you have to dedicate your time to it. I’m committed to earth Team and glad to be learning more about our environment. We learned about getting to know how old the tree is to learning how climate climate change is affecting everything. With temperatures rising, sea level rising, ocean acidification, ice caps are melting and etc. Earth Team gave me a chance to be out of my home and actually learn something.

-Mariana Mendez, Richmond High Intern


As the Richmond High Campus Coordinator, I have seen all our interns tackle challenges head on and quickly learn and grow while having fun at the same time. I am proud and happy to be working with them and we look forward to an excellent 2018!

Tree Maintenance and Inventory at Wanlass


Near the end of 2017, the tree planting sites at Wanlass Park were overrun by weeds and in need of some attention. This prompted our Richmond High intern group to dedicate a meeting to site maintenance and also use the opportunity to collect some important inventory data. Unfortunately is was raining, but that didn’t stop our team! Donning ponchos, they worked hard (and got dirty!).

Let’s start with maintenance – good old fashioned yard work. Most of the trees planted last year had no more mulch around them, and with all the rain we got, weeds and grasses were crowding the trunks of the trees. Other issues included broken ties, loose stakes, or ties hammered on incorrectly. Working in teams, the students were assigned several trees/planting sites to correct issues at. Each planting site was weeded, re-mulched, and the stakes and ties checked for tautness. The work was messy but rewarding and got the park looking much better!

Other students had a much less messy task – tree inventory. Tree inventories are systems used to keep track of tree data and are used in city management, forestry, and utility work (to name a few). For our inventory, Earth Team uses Open Tree Map, an online tool and app that allows for easy tree inventory. One of the more useful features of Open Tree Map is that it uses the entered data to calculate environmental benefits of each tree.

To conduct the inventory, students were given maps, iPads, and measuring tapes. Trees planted in Fall 2017 were not recorded on the map yet, so all of the following data needed to be entered: species, GPS location, trunk diameter, and a picture. The interns were able to collect and record the data using the app on the iPads. Trees planted in previous years were already on the map, so all they needed was an update on their diameter and picture.


Overall, the day was fun and informative. Many interns had never done yard work or collected data on trees before. Despite the rain their spirits were kept up as they tended the trees and interacted with nature. Until next time –


Leading A Tree Planting At Wanlass Park


After getting a first taste of all the hard work that goes into tree planting  in October, Richmond High interns stepped up to be leaders at Wanlass for their November tree planting event. Over 20 volunteers showed up, including Alhambra High School’s Earth Team interns and several students from U.C. Berkeley. Although the number of attendees was daunting, the team did a great job of instructing the volunteers and providing support throughout the day.

Our interns kicked off the event with an icebreaker: the human knot! After this fun and close quarters activity, the team instructed the group on proper tree planting procedure. Each person had a different task to cover, from how to dig a hole to the proper way to stake a tree. After they finished planting an example tree, the volunteers were split into several groups and assigned a planting site and tree.

Throughout the day, Richmond High interns did an amazing job walking among the volunteer groups and answering questions, checking work, and providing any needed assistance. They thoroughly enjoyed the chance to work with other Earth Team interns and the college students.


By the end of the day, the volunteers had managed to plant a total of 11 trees! It was a hard day of work complemented by laughter and new connections; and as always, the day was finished off by loads of PIZZA! We hope to use this day as a practice run for a larger community event in the spring: stay tuned!



Richmond High School Urban Forestry Interns Complete ’15-’16 Internship


The EarthTeam Richmond High School Urban Forestry Interns recently celebrated their final meeting of the internship, completing a year of trees, dirt, and mulch. Interns spent much of the year learning dendrology and training as an arborist. How does a healthy tree grow? Where should you plant a tree? How do you plant a tree? And why should you plant a tree? Students were immersed in experiences that sought to answer all these questions. They spoke with experts like UC Berkeley Forestry Professor Joe McBride. They planned a demonstration forest in the City of San Pablo’s Wanlass Park. They also planted lots and lots of trees.

95 young trees, in total, now grow in the cities of Richmond, San Pablo, and El Cerrito, because of the hard work of the interns. Through their effort planting trees they even managed to break a few city records. At Wanlass Park in San Pablo they set the record for most volunteers at an event, and the record for most trees planted in one day. (They set the record with 20 trees.)

“Wanlass Park was my favorite event because it pushed me out of my comfort zone, having to lead strangers.”Enrique Alegria

The interns would later also tie their record for most trees planted at Davis Park in San Pablo.

The East Bay is a little greener thanks to this year’s Urban Forestry Interns who together planted more than 90 trees over the course of the internship.

During their learning experiences, students learned many things about trees and how they are managed in the city. In one project they learned how to discern harmful tree pathogens and diseases.

“I learned about how trees are like human beings with health issues.” Brian Alvarez

The interns even had a chance to educate the City of San Pablo’s City Council about the presence of a fatal tree disease, bright blight, in some trees along San Pablo Avenue.

Interns presenting their findings regarding fire blight in San Pablo.

When the interns were asked to reflect on their work during the year and why it was important, some students saw the value of the impact they made and the skills they learned.

“I felt like I was a part of something more than just planting a tree in the ground, but part of a revolution. We as a community are developing skills to improve our society and ourselves.”Sara Gordian

“Some of the skills that I learned was that begin organized is very important. In the future I’ll use this skill to help me organize whenever I ever host an event and have everything in order so that things won’t get chaotic.”Perla Luna

“I learned leadership skills and public speaking skills. I learned how to be a leader with my group.”Fernanda Martinez

Students also considered why other students should join EarthTeam in the future. Student’s suggested that the program provided valuable experiences and one student recognized their new appreciation for the outdoors.

“I learned to enjoy nature. Something I never did before.”Shaneen Britton

“They should join because it is a great program. They will gain lots of experience and skills for the future. The students and staff are amazing! This program is worth giving up every Monday and every other Saturday.”Itzel Gonzales

Thank you to all the student intern, partners, and volunteers that helped make this year’s urban forestry internship a success! Next year’s students will have the opportunity to plant more trees in new territory for EarthTeam, including El Sobrante. Students will also get a chance to help expand the demonstration forest at Wanlass Park in San Pablo. We look forward to the new interns urban greening efforts.

Interns Record Important Tree Data at Wanlass Park

EarthTeam Wanlass Park City Of San Pablo
EarthTeam Interns taking GPS coordinates of a tree they planted months earlier in Wanlass Park

On May 9th, EarthTeam Interns returned to Wanlass Park in San Pablo to monitor the 20 trees they planted earlier in February this year. The trees were still standing, except for one, which unfortunately had died. Still, the students, were excited to see their trees that were now sporting new green leaves.

Interns also saw for the first time the new drip irrigation system and sign describing the intern’s tree planting project, both of which had been installed by the City of San Pablo shorty after the trees were planted.

EarthTeam Wanlass Park City of San Pablo
A new sign features information about the tree planted in Wanlass Park and photos of the Interns that planted them.

While visiting their trees, interns collected DBH (diameter at breast height) measurements. This data reveals the thickness of the tree trunk, and is used to measure tree growth over time. The students also collected GPS coordinates to accurately mark the location of each tree. This data will be important for tracking the future health, growth, and benefits the tree provide.

Interns Report On Fatal Tree Disease to San Pablo City Council

EarthTeam San Pablo City Council
Interns presented to San Pablo City Council about the presence of fire blight in San Pablo

On May 2nd, Interns provided a report and presentation to the San Pablo City Council about their EarthTeam Urban Forestry Internship and their project diagnosing the tree disease fire blight.

Fire blight is a fatal tree disease that has no cure, and while it can be managed by tactical pruning of the infected areas in the tree canopy, it will eventually kill the tree. Students provided an overview of the disease to council members, along with the susceptible tree species, how to identify infected trees, and a map marking the location of diseased trees along of stretch of San Pablo Avenue.

Interns report on the tree species affect by fire blight and the consequences of losing street trees in the City.

The City Council thanked the students bringing the issue before them, and will decide how to manage the trees at a later date. They also recognized the students for their work planting trees in the San Pablo park’s Wanlass Park and Davis Park.

Interns Finish Planting Season Strong, 2 Events and 39 Trees

Interns celebrated Arbor Day by planting 12 trees in El Cerrito.

The tree planting season in California goes quick, lasting only a little more than half the year. In the last month of the spring planting season, Interns finished the school year strong by participating in two EarthTeam planting events and planting 39 trees.

On April 16th, Interns joined City of San Pablo Staff and volunteers from The Watershed Project at Davis Park to plant 20 trees. The trees were planted along a stretch of Wildcat Creek that runs through the park. Mike Wood, an environmental consultant fro the City of San Pablo, selected the riparian species Box Elder (Acer negundo), and Cottonwood (Populus fremontii) for the planting.

EarthTeam Tree Planting Davis Park San Pablo
Interns, volunteers, and city staff, worked hard as the sun rose, turning a cool morning into a hot day at Davis Park, San Pablo.

On April 30th, Interns celebrated Arbor Day by planting 12 trees in El Cerrito at the Sunset View Cemetery and neighboring private lot, which is often used by the public as a park. This planting was the Interns’ final tree planting event for their program. Each student demonstrated a high level of ability to plant according to tree planting standards set by the Intentional Society of Arboriculture. The students will end their internship having planted a total of 95 trees in multiple cities across the East Bay.

Interns with Sunset View Staff during the final tree planting event of the internship.

Urban Forestry Interns Reflect On Their Contributions To Their Communities

blog april

“Planting at Wanlass felt like doing an actual physical contribution to my community and environment. 50 years from now Wanlass will be full of dense canopy trees that give shade and homes to many birds. A place where kids can go and play and run. These trees definitely will increase the birds in the park. Urban Forestry Internship has taught me that a community has many factors by which it is affected by trees. Including the positive impacts a single tree has in a community.” Shaneen Britton

“Planting at Wanlass makes me feel proud of myself for making a difference in our community. In 50 years I picture Wanlass really nice and green with lots of trees. By the trees we have planted we would attract many birds and other wildlife. Today I feel much more closer and confident towards my teammates ever since we had our first meeting.”- Perla Santana

“I feel good about our planting at Wanlass Park. 50 years from now I imagine Wanlass park being healthy and green. The wildlife that we brought to Wanlass is like squirrels, birds and insects. I feel confident talking about urban forestry now then how I did when we had our first meeting.”- Joanna Gudino

“I felt great because I felt like I was making a difference in my community. I picture Wanlass to be a beautiful place for future generations to be in. I believe there will be a lot of squirrels, butterflies and birds! I feel more comfortable than the first meeting we had. I feel like I can be myself, and I feel like I can talk to people I didn’t know.”- Fernanda Martinez