Educators Learn About Amigos' Education Programs
By Thomas Anderson

teachers learn about FLOWLocal educators learn how the Amigos
wetland tour and FLOW programs operate.
Photo by Thomas Anderson.
On Tuesday, August 13, nine teachers and informal science educators joined Naturalist Kim DiPasquale and FLOW Program Manager Jill Lemon at the south parking lot at the Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve to learn how Amigos de Bolsa Chica’s education programs can help them meet their Next Generaton Science Standards needs. These educators came from Huntington Beach, Long Beach and Newport Beach, and from as far away as El Segundo and Riverside. They were all drawn to learn about the education opportunities the Amigos provide.

Starting with a wetland tour, Kim demonstrated key talking points the Amigos Naturalists can incorporate into a typical tour, and how these talks can be customized for different grade levels and accommodate most educators’ needs. These talking points not only tell the story of Bolsa Chica’s unique history and thriving biodiversity, but they speak to scientific concepts all students must know.

The Amigos de Bolsa Chica’s volunteer Naturalists have been trained since the 1980s to engage students and scouts with interactive discussions about their observations of the living and non-living components of the ecosystem, the physical setting and zones of the salt marsh, the bird, plant and animal adaptations to the saltmarsh habitat, food chain and energy flow, different species of birds present at different times of the year, migration and life cycles, human uses and effects upon the ecosystem throughout history . . . and on and on. One cannot visit Bolsa Chica without seeing many scientific principles at work. It is the Amigos Naturalists job to point them out and imbue a deeper understanding of the importance of the salt marsh ecosystem.

At the end of the wetland tour, Jill demonstrated how to cast the plankton net for the group to preview what the group would learn about FLOW when they reconvened at the Visitor Center. Once across the Coast Highway inside the Bolsa Chica State Beach Visitor Center, everyone was shown the basic water condition tests for pH, nutrients and salinity. They were each given a microscope and treated to a lively array of Phytoplankton.

Jill was joined by FLOW Citizen Scientists Linda Fillet and Judy Huck who shared their insights into the importance Phytoplankton and its role in the basis of the ocean food web as well as how the typical FLOW classroom visit works. Students compare and contrast organisms of the plankton community, explore energy sources, trophic levels and ecological relationships, water quality, algal blooms and nutrient recycling in coastal ecosystems, and the role plankton plays in Earth’s oxygen and carbon cycles. After the demonstration, attendees were treated to lunch.