Tag Archives: HAF2017

Summer at Stewart B. McKinney: Crabs, birds, and more!

This post is part of of short summer series featuring blog posts from our Hispanic Access Foundation interns. Today, we are hearing from Ivette Lopez, who has been working at Stewart B. McKinney National Wildlife Refuge in Connecticut. Read more posts in the series here

During the summer at Stewart B. McKinney National Wildlife Refuge, I spent plenty of time outdoors at our different refuge and urban sites! In late May, we hosted Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. for Zeta Days, an initiative that encourages members to visit a national wildlife refuge. Our local chapter joined us on an island tour of the refuge.

Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Inc. and friends enjoy a beautiful day on the refuge’s Outer Island Unit.

On the tour, everyone learned about the history and wildlife of Falkner Island and Outer Island. At Falkner Island, we used binoculars to observe the nesting terns from the boat. Participants learned about the endangered roseate/common terns and their threats such as the black-crowned night heron and habitat loss. Then we sailed across Long Island Sound to Outer Island, where we toured the island’s habitats and enjoyed lunch. It was a beautiful day to be outside!

In June, we had youth from New Haven also visit Outer Island as a part of our urban wildlife refuge partnership. Every year, the refuge offers the Nature of Learning Program to schools across Connecticut. This year five New Haven public schools participated the program, which includes two in-class lessons and a final field trip to the refuge’s Outer Island Unit. During the months of April and May, students learned about their local wildlife refuge, migratory birds, and adaptations through interactive lessons. Some students searched for the invasive Asian shore crab on the rocky beach as a part of a study, while others looked through their binoculars for great egrets, cormorants, and other shorebirds. Other activities included seining for marine wildlife and looking at artifacts from Outer Island.

A fourth grade student from Columbus Family Academy holds an invasive Asian shore crab during an activity on Outer Island.

Aside from providing educational activities on the refuge’s island unit, I also spent a lot of time in New Haven connecting students to their local nature preserves and parks. In early June, Conte West Hills Magnet School first graders had their final expedition to the Quinnipiac Meadows Preserve. Over the last year, students have learned about different aspects of the salt marsh such as the habitat, wildlife, and food chain. Once we arrived at the salt marsh, every student received a pair of binoculars for bird watching. We walked down the trail, saw several osprey flying overhead, and used our binoculars for a closer look at the osprey’s wingspan, bill, and talons. At the marsh, students had a fun time picking up fiddler crabs and mussels!

Conte West Hills Magnet School first grade class enjoy the salt marsh at Quinnipiac Meadows Nature Preserve in New Haven.

Across town, third graders at King Robinson School have learned about the Service and our mission throughout the school year. For our final trip, we walked right next door to explore one of our urban wildlife refuge sites, Cherry Ann St. Park. Over the years, this site has been transformed from an area covered with invasive species and trash to a park with a playground, trails, and native plantings. Students toured the park and learned more about the forest, the freshwater, and meadow ecosystem. We also used binoculars to identify birds at the park such as the American robin, the cardinal, and we even saw a heron flying overhead! At the end of the lesson, everyone had a great time running around the playground. It’s been such a busy and fun summer!

Third graders use the viewing platform to search for wildlife around Cherry Ann St. Park!


Los amigos de Patuxent

This post is part of of short summer series featuring blog posts from our Hispanic Access Foundation interns. Today, we are hearing from JoAnna Marlow and Abraham Lopez Trejo, who spent the summer at Patuxent Research Refuge in Maryland. Read more posts in the series here

JoAnna and Abraham at the Masonville Cove bioblitz.

First up, JoAnna:

With the help of our coworkers and staff, we held several events for Latino Conservation Week. Our highlighted event was a bilingual tram tour guided by either myself, or Abraham. To advertise this event, we printed tram tour flyers and went out into the community to places like Casa de Maryland, a couple of Latino youth centers, and libraries. Another event we have planned was a program with Monarch Global Academy. Along with environmental education and interpretation sessions held at their location, we brought them to the refuge during Latino Conservation Week for a day of fun. At first, I was nervous about going out and trying to make all these connections with the community, but people were friendly and welcoming. I learned that talking to people in person and being able to show them how you feel and express what your mission is goes a long way, much longer than communicating via email.

Minicamp of 8-10 year-olds participating in an activity called “Migration Headache”. This activity requires the campers to become migrating birds that are traveling from nesting sites to wintering sites.

Abraham and I also helped Chelsea Miller, another intern at Patuxent, with her summer minicamps. There were two types of two-day minicamps: Animal Adaptations and Wonderful Wetlands. Each minicamp was taught to two different age groups: 5-7 year-olds, and 8-10 year-olds. It was awesome seeing how excited those kids were each day! They all had something different to say when they were asked what their favorite part of the camp was. On the last day of each camp, the kids were able to go fishing on the North Tract of Patuxent Research Refuge. A great thing about minicamps is that they are free, which usually isn’t the case, or at least not the case at various nature centers/estuaries I have visited. I love the accessibility of all the programs at Patuxent because enjoying nature and environmental education shouldn’t be costly.

Abraham and I also participated as volunteers at the fourth annual BioBlitz at Masonville Cove, and it was a successful day for data collection with the help of citizens, scientists, naturalists, and other volunteers. We walked around to each station to and talked with other volunteers about what they were identifying and recording around the Masonville Cove environment. While walking around Masonville Cove, Jennie, our supervisor, helped us identify an Orchard Oriole! We learned about the difference between the Orchard Oriole and the famous Baltimore Oriole, as well as their different sounds.

Abraham and I went on a guided bird walk at the BioBlitz which was led by our supervisor, Jennie McNicoll. I was able to take a picture of a Great Blue Heron and couple of ducks through a pair of binoculars.

Karen Mullins, with Baltimore Wilderness Coalition, and Jennie took us on a tour through South Baltimore to help us gather ideas on different types of outreach projects we could start throughout the summer. We gathered ideas based off various community projects around the city. We also had the privilege of talking to the Carroll & Gwynns Falls Parks District Manager from the Baltimore Department of Recreation & Parks about making parts of the parks friendlier for the public.

This is the last place we visited during our Baltimore visit. The sign in the Filbert Street Garden, a community garden within the Curtis Bay area.

Now, Abraham:

Time flies at Patuxent! I have learned a lot about project planning and what working in a partnership requires. As well, it has been a personal journey in which I have learned to become better organized and more aware of time constraints. It has been a truly holistic experience where we have learned to be flexible but assertive at the same time when planning events, and connecting with people.

One of the highlights of my time at Patuxent, and one of my personal enjoyments, was going into Latino neighborhoods to find new “amigos” (friends) and possible future partnerships. While looking for possible places to drop some flyers for our events we came across the Latino American and Multicultural Youth Centers in the DC-Maryland. All the people we met at these centers made us feel truly welcomed. We shook hands and exchanged numbers but even more important, we shared our goals and dreams.

It was refreshing to meet likeminded people who care about the wellbeing of their community. While at these meetings, we found their excitement to work with Service and Hispanic Access Foundation to teach our Latino community how to conserve the environment and contribute to a better future. There is a lot of potential for a future fruitful partnership, but in the meantime, we created some long-lasting connections.

Summer at Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge

This post is part of of short summer series featuring blog posts from our Hispanic Access Foundation interns. Today, we are hearing from Ariel Martinez, who spent the summer at Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge in New York. Read more posts in the series here

Ariel, after banding a purple martin.

For Latino Conservation Week back in July, I partnered with three different Boys and Girls Club locations, as well as two community centers. Because the refuge is positioned in between Buffalo and Rochester, I wanted to make sure we were reaching both cities. For my very first event, I worked with kids from the STEM program in the Rochester Boys and Girls Club. We went to the nearby Genesee Valley Park and did a nature photography program. The kids enjoyed it and got to pick their favorite nature photo to be framed.

The second event was at the Belle Center in Buffalo. It was a large event, and staff from the refuge helped support me. It was a blast, and the kids had a lot of fun doing things like making plaster casts of animal tracks, learning about food webs and looking at insects. The other three events were pelts and skulls lessons. I went to the Massachusetts Ave. Boys and Girls Club, the Beecher Boys and Girls Club, and the West Side Community Center in Buffalo. I taught kids about the local mammals using furs and replica skulls. There was also a voluntary wildlife ID quiz I laid out that many kids decided to try on their own. It was an amazing experience to see what things kids knew, or what they imagined about the things they saw.

My personal favorites how many people guess that the deer skull is a dinosaur and that the beaver pelt is a bear! I’ve also gotten the chance to work with monitoring and banding birds. Some of the birds I’ve gotten to work with are purple martins, Eastern bluebirds, and tree swallows. It has been really busy, but really fun and I enjoyed my time at Iroquois!