Environmental Club for Teens
By Rachael Lloyd

Toward fall, the school year begins anew and a teenager's thoughts move from summer vacation to the obligations of their education. Within the Orange County high school system students are required to complete a certain number of community service hours toward their high school graduation. This has presented the Amigos de Bolsa Chica an excellent opportunity to create a program that meets this need for local teens and fulfills our mission of providing wetlands education not only for teens but for the community at large. The Environmental Club was started in 2015 and served a once monthly group of 5-12 teens and interested adults who were motivated to contribute physical labor to the improvement of the Bolsa Chica native plant communities. The original group was started by Amigos garden partners Jerry Donohue and Rachael Lloyd. Next they were joined by Radi Ali, a local graphic designer who was looking for an outdoor environmental project that would allow him some needed outdoor time after a week confined within the four walls of an office. Later in the year we were joined by Santa Ana science teacher Tom Pfeifer and Coastline college professor Dr. Tanya Murray. This year we are pleased to welcome another science teacher and certified master gardener Jeanne Lapowsky to our team of adult leaders.

A wonderful calendar of enriching work-learn events are scheduled for this year's Environmental Club. We were excited to have 31 teens attend our first meeting on Saturday October 29. The day started off with an orientation tour of the Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve. Portions of the tour were led by Amigos Jerry Donohue, Terry Jorris and Tom Pfeifer. Other portions of the tour were led by some of the returning 2015 Environmental Club teens who also completed Amigos docent training last year. Then the group traveled back across Pacific Coast Highway and regathered in the Bolsa Chica State Beach Headquarters classroom where they viewed a slide show describing 12 of the most common native plants in the Bolsa Chica area. Using a worksheet with a brief description and diagrams of the individual plant leaves the group then went out into the garden and successfully identified the plants they had just learned about. The theme of the first meeting was an orientation to the Bolsa Chica area and its plant communities.

The theme of the second meeting in November was the underwater life of the wetlands and the adjacent coast. The teens were able to view live plankton sourced from the wetlands under microscopes through a demonstration of the Amigos FLOW program. They were then treated to a slide and video presentation by Amigos board member and marine mammal expert Daryth Morrissey. Now that our group has become familiar with the flora and fauna of the Bolsa Chica area the next steps are to move them outdoors and engage them in native plant propagation and garden maintenance. Folded into those activities will be more learning opportunities connected to the Bolsa Chica ecology and environmental concerns. Any interested adults or teens that would like to join in with our once monthly learn/work meetings is welcome. Upcoming dates can be found at our website www.amigosdebolsachica.org.