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NWP Global Registry of Apprentice Ecologists - Bishop O'Dowd High School, Oakland, California, USA

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Bishop O'Dowd High School, Oakland, California, USA
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Registered: December 2021
City/Town/Province: Oakland
Posts: 1
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I have worked on many ecological projects, including planting trees, composting, leading school-wide workdays, and creating new vegetable plant beds. The project that I am most excited about is in cultivating native plant life in my school’s garden. My school has a garden called the Living Lab, which over the past ten years, students have cultivated into a thriving habitat. Before this environment was developed, the location was a quarry and neighborhood dump. One day, the students and faculty wanted to change the use of this land and set out to create a native ecosystem. I continue this legacy by working in the garden and on the hillside to help maintain the habitat and teach others about the value of healthy ecosystems.

The project that I want to focus on today is the work I do on the native hillside. My school and sustainability leadership group discuss the importance of native wildlife often, and I think it can be an overlooked yet essential aspect of our garden. The area I live in is part of the chaparral biome, and we are currently experiencing a lot of dryness from the drought throughout California. The native plants play a critical role in this current environment by minimizing erosion by stabilizing the hillside with roots. These plants have adapted to a dry and hot environment and therefore do not need much water, which is a large benefit in the drought. They also provide habitat to the many animals in the area like lizards, snakes, squirrels, and bees.

Some plants have also adapted and rely on fire for survival. The plant to highlight in this group would be California Black Sage. In the drier months, the plant goes into a state of dormancy, where the energy focuses on the roots and base. Fire often clears off the longer stems and leaves of the plant, allowing it to concentrate energy below ground. I can not recreate fire on the hillside for safety reasons. What I can do, is cut off the long stems of the plant. By cutting each stem at an angle, the plant is able to grow back when it rains again. Trimming or pruning helps to keep the native plants healthy, supporting the overall ecosystem. Black sage is a keystone species in the state of California. Supporting native wildlife in my school garden and within larger areas of public land helps to keep ecosystems balanced and thriving. Maintaining such systems is important for carbon sequestration, as the more healthy the plants of an ecosystem, the more carbon they can take in. I focus on this project to improve the health of these native plants as well as the larger health of the world. I do this because I want to contribute positively as climate change continues to affect the environments we live in through changing ecosystem cycles.
· Date: December 31, 2021 · Views: 992 · File size: 24.1kb, 2231.5kb · : 4032 x 3024 ·
Hours Volunteered: 25
Volunteers: 2
Authors Age & Age Range of Volunteers: 2 & 15 to 18
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