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US Fish & Wildlife Service FieldNotes

Outreach, Education, Interns, Oh My!: SCA Interns Educate San Francisco Bay Area Students About the Wonders of the Environment

Region 8, May 12, 2017
Christian McGrath is one of the two Student Conservation Association Interns funded by the Explore the Coast Grant to reach out to new audiences and bring them to the coast!
Christian McGrath is one of the two Student Conservation Association Interns funded by the Explore the Coast Grant to reach out to new audiences and bring them to the coast! - Photo Credit: n/a
Rain Credle enjoyed meeting the Refuge's neighbors at off site events!
Rain Credle enjoyed meeting the Refuge's neighbors at off site events! - Photo Credit: n/a

When you were a student in grade school, do you ever recall looking out of the window in class, wishing that you were outside enjoying the beautiful weather rather than sitting inside? For Student Conservation Association (SCA) interns, Rain Credle and Christian McGrath, this was exactly the scenario! Rain is from New Jersey and after she acquired her degree in Wildlife Management she has spent the last two years here in California doing restoration and wildlife work. She came to the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge through the help of the California State Coastal Conservancy's Explore the Coast Grant which was awarded to the San Francisco Bay Wildlife Society (Society). Christian hails from upstate New York having spent the past year working as a substitute teacher after graduating with a degree in English Adolescent Education. Rain applied for this position because she missed working with kids and teaching them about the environment in an outdoor setting. Christian on the other hand, knew he wanted to continue working with kids and education, but desired to be outdoors more.

The Explore the Coast Grant is used to encourage all Californians to explore the coastal regions of California. That includes things like providing environmental education, cultural and historic outreach, restoration work, improving accessibility for those with disabilities, and providing coastal experiences for underserved communities. The grant awarded to the Society is funding 6 interns, and busses for Title 1 schools to visit the Refuge over the course of a year and a half.

Both Rain and Christian served as interns at both the Fremont and Alviso sites focusing mainly on environmental education. With the guidance of Tia Glagolev and Genie Moore, they were able to assist with 32 Wetland Round-up field trips, 7 of which were Title 1 schools. Rain and Christian learned how to set up, lead, and facilitate all of the field trip activities. Their favorite activities were Mud Lab, where students explored samples of mud taken from the mudflats and Habitat Comparison Walk, where students received a tour of the various habitats found in the refuge.

Throughout the internship, Rain was also able to attend several outreach events. Rain’s favorite event was Earth Day at the Oakland Zoo where she learned about chimpanzee behavior and saw other animals like lions, all sorts of tropical birds, bonobos, and squirrel monkeys. It was a beautiful day where Rain and Christian met thousands of people. Another memorable event for Rain was educating the youth about Caspian terns and what USGS do to help the salmon population up north. Rain, Christian and Genie Moore, Education Specialist, painted lots of decoy terns with the children of the Alviso Youth Center and they had a great time getting messy! Rain even dressed up as a tern herself and got to discuss what makes a tern a tern, many a puns were had that day. Rain also had the honor of helping with the Refuges first Black History Month Event created by Trisha Thornton. The Black History Month Program meant a lot to Rain because she understood the complications of being black and working for the environment. The event helped Rain reaffirm her goals to educate underprivileged youth about nature and their role in it.

While Rain was busy coordinating multiple outreach events, Christian had his hands full working on editing, improving, and piloting lesson activities to support Next Generation Science Standards, such as Time Travel Through the Marsh and Biologists in Training. Time Travel Through the Marsh is a lesson designed to teach students about the history of the Bay Area wetlands and how they have been influenced by various groups of people, including the Ohlone Native Americans and Spanish Settlers. Biologists in Training is a lesson geared towards teaching students about phenology and why it is important to keep track of plants in an ever changing environment. Christian also assisted the refuge by organizing visitor service information and data and compiling it into a monthly report.

By participating and working through this internship, both Rain and Christian have found a renewed sense of importance in educating and inspiring the next stewards of the environment. They are both very grateful for all of the support they received from the California Coastal Conservancy and their fellow staff and supervisors at the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge and the San Francisco Bay Wildlife Society. Up next for Christian, he plans to continue working on furthering his career educating the youth in an outdoor setting. While Rain will serve in a short term program in New Mexico, surveying for Spotted Owls before planning on serving in the Peace Corp in Zambia.

Contact Info: Genie Moore, 408-262-5513, Ext. 100, genie_moore@fws.gov