Teen volunteers report on Earth Day event, and beyond…

Posted on April 29, 2021 by Sonoma Valley Sun

A volunteer team readies for the Nathanson Creek clean-up portion of the April 23 Earth Day event. Photo by Kristen Russell. 

By Simone York, Caroline Studdert, and Emma Melendy — members of Sonoma Ecology Center’s “Earthling” teen volunteer group

Since our last update, we have been hard at work trying to make Sonoma a more beautiful and sustainable place. We had our creek clean-up and Earth day celebration at Nathanson Creek Preserve, and are so grateful for all the individuals and families who turned up to volunteer and participate. Before we let you know the exciting goings-on, we wanted to also say a special thank you to Starbucks at the Maxwell Center for providing coffee, and to Homegrown Bagels here in town for some yummy treats to keep everyone sustained and nourished during the morning.

So now to our Earth Day event! What an amazing morning and atmosphere. We started the morning off with a briefing before getting stuck in removing some non-native grasses from the beds in the preserve. People of all ages were involved and you could almost hear the native plants breathing more freely with more space around them! At the same time, some of our ‘mini’ Earthlings made their way around picking up trash before sorting it. One of the younger volunteers, 6-year-old Soren, was inspired to join the Earthlings Club following his time at the event and loved using the special litter picking device to carefully remove trash from the plants and bedding areas … welcome Soren!

Local pollinator specialist Cindy Lindh set up an eye-catching display for passers-by to see, and had another new Earthling, 9-year-old Phoebe, on hand to pass on their incredible passion and knowledge for all things butterfly and pollinator related. Butterfly bookmarks were made, along with bee artworks, and volunteers were invited to take home some native narrow-leaf milkweed to plant at home. It’s a monarch’s favorite (along with Tithonia) and a great thing to plant to attract butterflies and help to increase their numbers in the Valley.

Elena Forrest, Alex Reilly, and Rue Gobbee

Also part of the festival was an information table helping locals understand more about sorting their trash … it’s part of an ongoing project that the Earthlings are involved in to better understand what can be recycled, what goes into yard waste, and what ends up in the landfill. Thanks to the York family for putting this together! Remember: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle; and help local businesses use less by requesting recyclable or compostable packaging for any take-outs.

I think the whole feel of the event can be summed up by Sonoma Ecology Center’s Education Manager, Julia Megna: “As Sonoma Ecology Center’s education project manager, I have the privilege to help facilitate the youth-led group Earthlings. Following the members’ powerful dedication to the environment is expanding my own vision of what is possible. The club’s many projects continue to progress with each member using their talents and connections and giving the time they have. In addition to our teen core members, we now have a handful of young families. Along with the cross-pollination between the generations, I see the younger children feel pride in their efforts and solidarity with their older counterparts.

“The teens and adults are buoyed by the mini-Earthlings while their collaboration lessens fears and anxiety, knowing steps are being taken to improve the climate challenge as well as educate others about it.”

Once again, thank you to all those who contributed to make this a very successful event – we love spreading the message within our special Sonoma Community, and this was a lovely event.

If you are interested in becoming an Earthling or finding out more about what we do please visit us on Instagram @secearthlings, send us an email [email protected]  

Simone York, Caroline Studdert, and Emma Melendy are members of the Sonoma Ecology Center’s Young Environmental Ambassador program, a.k.a. The Earthlings.

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