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Great Honor to Be a Volunteer

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It is a great thing that there are Native Plant Nurseries and Nature Preserve locations close to the Los Angeles area. It was my honor to be able to volunteer! These are good places to volunteer because the efforts of restoration sites around the peninsula will help and benefit by restoring our habitat for wildlife. It will also help create a beautiful site for the community to enjoy and a place to relax. The expansions of cities have invaded wildlife and its habitat. Taking care of valuable things in our environment that benefit us is such an important thing because we owe it to our planet earth. Humans have polluted this earth with many toxic that comes from trash, airplanes, cars, refineries etc. and we are slowly damaging what we need to protect and that is our planet and what was originally here before we were. According to California native plant society (California Native Plant Society, 2018) “California has more plants than any other state in the nation”, “at least one-third of California’s native plants are found nowhere else in the world”. That should tell us that we need to take native plants more serious and start taking care of them while we still have them.

A plaque displayed on the entrance of the White Point Nature Preserve with the title Bringing Back The Natives capture my attention and taught me something new, something that I had no idea about and something that I never took into consideration. The plaque stated “Native species are important for many reasons. Scientist are now learning to use the special features of wild species to improve crops, livestock, and medicines, as well as obtain knowledge that advances food production, health care and even industry. If we lose native species, we may lose valuable resources that could improve our lives! Because many species are interdependent, eliminating one may cause others to disappear. Native plants beck wildlife as well. Birds, butterflies, and others are attracted to the foods supplies by them, including nectar-bearing blossom and berries. As native plants return, so too does the wildlife”. I was speechless when I read this because it never crossed my mind that bringing back the natives could be something so powerful.

There is this new book by Dana York called Illustrated Flora of Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks who is extremely passionate about Native plants. She shares that her three favorite native plants in her region are the purple fairy lantern, tree anemone, and the monarch golden-aster. Botanist Dana has been very involved since she was a child living in the Sierra her passion grew as she got older and now her career as a botanist is nothing but a blessing to her. Dana shared that she loves finding new plants when exploring unique habitats. Dana stated that (York,2018) “land management agencies need to be aware of places that carry native plants and park visitors need to know that there are unique plants and communities in parks and the surrounding Sierra”. It is extremely important to be mindful and careful with the native plants as they are a good thing for the environment. Native plants can easily be mistaken by regular plants so it is to have some kind of knowledge. If one has absolutely no knowledge plants should be left alone.

According to the staff where I volunteered Native plants are good to have because they are hardy, they learn to adapt to the local conditions. Once the Native Plants established, native plants do not need as many pesticides, fertilizers, or watering. I thought that was amazing, who wouldn’t love that? Because many plants need to be watered on the daily bases in order to survive. Speaking from experience, many of my plants have not survived because of lack of water. Most people are always on the go and the last thing that crosses their mind is watering plants. Native Plants are not only good for the environment; they also help save time and money. Landscaping with native wildflowers and grasses helps return the area to a healthy ecosystem.

In the white point native plant demonstration garden we, the volunteers helped by planting native shrubs, a good thing to known when landscaping with native plants, it is to choose proper plants that will resist certain conditions. Wet or dry, shade or sun, acid or neutral soils are very important factors to consider.

Fun fact; did you know that many native plants attract beneficial insects?

These insects can help control pests, so it is a good thing to try creating a habitat for these good bugs. Removing invasive weeds is extremely important since they can cause damage by robbing the soil and nutrients the plant needs. Even though Native Plants can go a while without water watering native plants is still beneficial in order for them to grow nice and healthy. In the PVPLC’s Native plant nursery we, the volunteers helped with transplant seedling, when dealing with seedlings it is important to handle them by their leaves that will avoid any damage since they are very tender, this process will prepare native plants to be planted in restoration sites around the peninsula to improve wildlife habitat. We also threw away dead plants that had absolutely no green in them. There was no point in having them since there was no life in them. A little green goes a long way!

The staff at both locations where I volunteered were so knowledgeable and so passionate about their work and what their work does for the environment. They took the time to explain to us what did what, what was used for what, why was it necessary, why was our volunteer work so important and so forth. The staff at both locations walked around as we watered the plants and removed weeds to ask if we had any questions. To be honest, removing weeds was not my favorite part just because weeds can look different and I am not familiar with them so I was afraid to remove the wrong ones. I was often asking the staff if I was removing the correct weeds. I found that there, in fact, some weeds that are good. I can’t remember the name of the good weed but we were told that butterflies feed of it. I didn’t get to see any butterflies but I was told that many come around to feed off that weed.

Over all, I had a great experience learning new things and I will definitely consider volunteering again in the future just for fun. I am not a morning person so I already had a negative vibe and on top of that it was cold at the beginning but when we started getting active time went by so fast and it started getting hot. There were other students volunteering for school purposes and they were also excited to learn new things. I was able to volunteer with Angelos Williams in our class and it was nice to get to know her while volunteering. The staff at both locations where I volunteers made the atmosphere enjoyable and they made me feel like there were extremely appreciative for our volunteer work. The volunteer work is always available at many of their locations throughout the year. The only requirement is to sign up two days before time.

Plants also connect people to nature. Being in a garden surrounded by beautiful plants and flowers can be beneficial for self-care. According to Audubon “Over the past century, urbanization has taken intact, ecologically productive land and fragmented and transformed it with lawns and exotic ornamental plants. The continental U.S. lost a staggering 150 million acres of habitat and farmland to urban sprawl, and that trend isn’t slowing. The modern obsession with highly manicured “perfect” lawns alone has created a green, monoculture carpet across the country that covers over 40 million acres. The human-dominated landscape no longer supports functioning ecosystems, and the remaining isolated natural areas are not large enough to support wildlife”. This is extremely sad because little by little people are destroying what we once had and it is affecting the ecosystem and the wildlife. Again this shows that destroying the wildlife to create building is only beneficial to their pockets.

My volunteering work made a small difference compared to millions volunteering but it starts somewhere, this can be connected to environmental justice because sadly not everyone will think that it’s a good thing to conserve native plants. Many people are not informed and some will never be. It is up to us to spread the word and maybe one day everyone will care and take this matter seriously. It will always be a fight since everyone has different beliefs. Through our readings, we learn that many people didn’t give up until they were heard. We learned that the Keystone LX was a huge deal, a fight that wasn’t for one but for millions of people. There was a large number of people that were involved and ready for war if they had to. Their cause was so important that they need to be heard and something needed to be done.

They weren’t giving up easily and they made that be known. When people are passionate about what they believe in, they will go above and beyond to be heard. When millions of people are supporting it becomes more powerful and standing together can be beneficial since they are not alone in this fight. The environment, everything that creates it, maintains it, everything that can destroy it should be important because only we have the power to make things right for the better. The environment can be a huge factor for our health and many people take that for granted. Only if we all looked at things from the same perspective maybe things would be different. It is known that maybe people do things only to their financial benefit without taking others life into consideration.

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