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!



RHS interns join in on local mural project!


At the end of October, RHS interns teamed up with Alhambra High interns to continue work on an environmentally themed mural on 23rd street in Richmond. Designed by interns at John F. Kennedy High, the mural depicts both what the environment will be like if we continue business as usual (industrialized and dirty) and what the environment could look like if we stepped up as responsible stewards (community gardens, thriving nature, clean water). Interns loved working on a hands on project during their meeting and were empowered to work just a half mile from their high school. Community members walking by stopped to ask about the project and gave enthusiastic and inspiring feedback to our interns. RHS was happy to get this chance to help on such a cool and beautiful project!


Interns plant their first trees @ Wanlass Park

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On October 21, RHS interns participated in their first tree planting event of the school year. This tree planting project at Wanlass Park in San Pablo is Richmond High’s main project of the year and is funded by RELEAF and supported by the City of San Pablo. The purpose of this project is to create an educational urban forest where the surrounding community can come enjoy nature and learn about trees and the benefits of urban forestry. The project is designed specifically to give disadvantaged communities access to green spaces in addition to accessing the environmental benefits of trees.

Last school year, RHS interns managed to plant 42 trees. This year, the group is on track to plant at least another 60! The plans for the park include a variety of species: coast live oak, blue oak, western redbud, saucer & southern magnolias, incense cedar, gingko, bay laurel, and red maple.


For this first planting, interns focused on getting some blue oaks into the ground. Because many of the interns had never planted a tree before, we invited an experienced landscaper to come give a tree planting demonstration. Mae Clark of Plenty Landscapes volunteered her time to show the interns proper tree planting procedure and helped us get our first tree in the ground successfully! Interns learned about many important details of tree planting, including what shape and size to make the hole, how deep the tree should be planted, and how to stake and tie the tree once planted. Earth Team owes a big thank you to Mae!

After a few hours of hard work, the group was able to plant 6 trees total for the day. The ground was extremely hard and dry, so digging holes took up a good portion of the time. Interns learned that planting trees is hard work but also very rewarding! We are looking forward to many more days working with our trees!


Joe McBride Guest Lectures for RHS Interns

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On October 19, 2017, Earth Team board member and retired UC Berkeley professor Joe McBride came into RHS’s weekly meeting to teach our interns what urban forestry is and its benefits.

Interns learned that urban forestry is the management and care of trees in urban settings with the intent of improving urban environments. There is a lot of work that goes into managing an urban forest and such management is provided by a number of sources including city and utility foresters and arborists, policymakers, city planners, and community volunteers. Tree management in cities has different challenges than out in the forests. Unique challenges include limited space for roots or canopies, poor soil quality, damage to trees by citizens, and costs of labor. These are only a few of the considerations necessary when planning and managing urban forests.

Having a well maintained urban forests has a plethora of benefits! One important benefit is the way trees can influence a more moderate micro-climate; trees provide shade/cooling of buildings and roads, absorb sunlight, cool the air, and can reduce wind speed. This can make a city more comfortable, especially considering the way climate is changing. Other environmental benefits include increased biodiversity, better air quality, and absorption of rain water (which can help with flooding issues).

Urban forests can also provide economic and social benefits. Well landscaped business districts encourage more customers and can increase employee productivity, retention, and job satisfaction. Studies have also shown that more trees correlates with less crime and increased quality of life and happiness.

After describing all the juicy details about urban forestry, Joe also introduced the interns to the proper way to plant a tree in preparation for our first tree planting event of the school year at Wanlass Park in San Pablo. The students learned a lot from Joe and were grateful to listen to his wise and knowledgeable words! A big thank you from Richmond High Interns!


Richmond High interns prepare for Point Pinole Shoreline Festival


During the last three Richmond High Earth Team meetings, interns both learned about sea level rise and prepared to have a table at the Point Pinole Shoreline Festival. The interns have two roles at the festival: the first is to host a climate change game/activity for the community, and the second is to participate in a march to help the community visualize sea level rise. To introduce the subject, guest speaker Lauren Woodfill of The Watershed Project prepared a brief presentation and activity for the interns. Here is what one student had to say about her presentation:


In lauren’s presentation (the watershed project) she described ways of how we affect and help the earth and she also talked about how our city could look like in 50-100 years, which is probably underwater/flooded. On the map she showed us that cities like richmond could be almost all under water. One of the activities we had to do was stand up and put stickers on pictures that we’d like to see more of at the shoreline:for an example biking, picnics, going to the park, clean beaches etc. The other activity was writing on sticky notes on what specifically we would want to do and where on a map. Basically I learned so many ways we can help the planet and I learned so many other ways on how we affect our planet. This is important to me because I want the next generation to live in a safe, healthy, and happy environment and in order for that we have to learn how to help take care of because if we don’t who knows if there’s even gonna be another generation.

-Alondra Rodriguez, RHS intern

After Lauren’s presentation, the interns brainstormed ideas for their project for the festival. They decided on making a game called “Fishing for Facts”. The idea of the game is to fish pieces of trash out of a bin, and each piece of trash will have the answer to a question about climate change on it. The participant then has to match the answer to a question on a poster board. Some teams worked on the creative aspects (making a poster & designing materials) while others researched and created questions about climate change. They had a blast creating their finished project and were pumped to present it at the festival!


RHS teams up with Alhambra High for Coastal Clean Up day @ Davis Park


Back in September, Richmond High School and Alhambra High School teamed up on Coastal Clean Up day to clean up Davis Park’s creek area in San Pablo! Several community members also attend and help the interns pick up trash.

IMG_0404Working in teams, the interns tackled the trash problem using the zero litter app on their provided iPads. The app allowed the interns to record several pieces of data on every single piece of trash: GPS location, type of trash, and quantity. Results from the day, as well as results from all other Earth Team litter pick up days, can be seen on the ZeroLitter website HERE. Teams were also geared up with gloves, trash grabbers & bags, and some even braved the coveralls!

In only one day, these interns were able to remove over 2,000 pieces of trash! They were surprised by how many pieces of microtrash they found on the ground and were happy to play a part in making the creek and park a cleaner space. We look forward to more clean ups in the future!


A new year at for Earth Team Interns, 2017-2018!

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Earth Team is thrilled to be back at Richmond High School for the 2017-2018 program year! Earth Team staff members presented program information to 8 classes and reached over 175 students for this years program recruitment. After receiving over 40 applications we narrowed it down to 14 hardworking and ambitious interns who are ready to take action in their communities!

Our team spent our first meeting getting to know on another, learning about program logistics, and created bios. Check out our team HERE!

Get ready Richmond – Earth Team is back at it!