The Amigos de Bolsa Chica Adapts
By Charles Falzon
Thank you to all who have responded with generosity to our mid-year appeal for donations. Within a few short months much of our everyday lives and routines have been turned upside down. The Amigos has seen all of its traditional educational outreach programs come to a halt, and at this writing it is unclear if, or when schools will resume with field trips as in the past, or when conditions will be safe for our volunteers to interact with groups of people. While some things appear to be returning to normal, so much of what may be yet to come with the coronavirus pandemic is unknown. Like every other business and non-profit organization, the Amigos, with the generous support of our members and volunteers, are adapting.
It is with pleasure that I can talk about some of the things we’re working on and some that are soon to come to fruition. One of our first responses to isolation and distance learning was to create Zoom webinars wherein our volunteers, both Citizen Scientists and Naturalists, could see and visit with one another as well as absorb some information on current science events. We learned about the bioluminescent algal bloom happening along the Orange Coast in April and May, and we had a speaker from South Africa talk about the unprecedented red tides she is studying in Algoa Bay. Former FLOW Program Manager Gwen Noda talked about her experiences diving off the Southern California coast. We learned about how anyone can collect local invasive grasses to participate in an air quality study (see page 3), and heard a lively discussion about intersectional environmentalism and environmental justice. BCER Manager Kelly O’Reilly spoke to volunteers about the hidden marine life of Bolsa Chica.
In order to support the teachers who have long been vital to the success of the Amigos de Bolsa Chica, we are excited to host a unique Summer Institute for Educators starting on July 13 (see page 4). Imagine suddenly being taken out of the traditional classroom setting and restricted to online learning! Trauma for both teachers and students. We are also creating more online content: our Saving the Bolsa Chica Wetlands documentary can now be used in the class room, and more Virtual Field Trips are coming soon.
The Amigos have been stressing for well over 40 years that science is everything. The need for a greater understanding of ecology and how the health of the environment affects the health of humankind has never been more important. While we do not know what the future will look like, when or if we’ll return to anything resembling the past, we intend to do whatever it takes to remain dedicated to our mission to protect, preserve and restore the Bolsa Chica and provide education about the importance of wetlands.