Amigos Volunteers Are the Best!
By Jennifer Robins

Amigos de Bolsa Chica is proud of the enthusiasm and diversity of our many volunteers. Some of those volunteers are docents who teach students, scouts and the general public about the importance of wetlands and especially the Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve. There were 37 docents who volunteered in 2016 at 54 First Saturday Monthly Public Tours, Last Saturday Monthly Bird Talks and Privately Scheduled Tours 7 days a week. Approximately 800 people attended the public tours, and there were 24 private tours for 833 students.

The Amigos' weekly FLOW Program (Follow and Learn about the Ocean and the Wetlands) has two components. The first part collects tidal inlet and wetlands water using plankton nets. Citizen Scientists measure and record water quality variables (such as temperature, salinity, nutrients, dissolved oxygen, turbidity, pH) and other environmental data (such as weather and wind conditions and tide height) in support of the analysis of the plankton which is done under the microscope. Our citizen scientists are trained on the identification of plankton and are continuously looking for potentially harmful and toxic plankton species in the water. Our data and samples are then sent to The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) in support of their Phytoplankton Monitoring Program. The second part educates middle school, high school, college students, Junior Lifeguards and teachers about Phytoplankton. These students come to the Bolsa Chica to shadow our Citizen Scientists in their monitoring activities. Through this program, students will learn about methods, techniques and equipment used to collect and analyze plankton, and also about the importance and applicability of monitoring programs for coastal management and conservation purposes. The education component of FLOW hosted 13 classes for 455 students with 39 Citizen Scientists involved with both water testing and education.

Amigos volunteers participated at booth events for Bolsa Chica State Beach Movie Night and Girl Scout Leaders Conference. Amigos had 4 booths at the Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve Earth Day. There was a cleanup from the south parking lot for California Coastal Cleanup as well as cleanups every last Saturday of the month led by Amigos. Bird talks and demonstrations were conducted at the SCATS gymnasium and at Golden West College's Science Symposium for middle school students. A highlight of the year was the hosting of the Amigos' "Saving the Bolsa Chica Wetlands" Video Premiere and Amigos' Science Symposium.