Last month, we wrapped up the first ever Occidental (Oxy) Conservation Corps cohort! Through this pilot program, the Audubon Center at Debs Park partnered with the Occidental College Biology Department to provide 17 first-year students with an opportunity to work directly with community-based environmental organizations in Los Angeles. Students gained skills related to environmental conservation, community engagement, project development, professionalism, and more. From October through November, students completed 5-10 hours of volunteer service each week to support or elevate the work and mission of their host site. Upon completion of their internships, students received 2 course credits.
In total, students contributed over 450 hours of volunteer service to our community partners! We want to recognize this impressive achievement and extend a huge THANK YOU to this amazing group of students and our incredible host site supervisors.
Both students and host sites demonstrated exceptional adaptability in response to the virtual nature of these internships, due to COVID-19 related precautions and limitations. For many students, this was their first internship experience, so to have to adapt to a virtual structure on top of everything else was a lot to ask! Furthermore, the majority of students were studying remotely and the group lived all across the country from Hawaii to New York, to even internationally in the United Arab Emirates. However, the students truly stepped up to the plate and were able to complete impactful projects for their host organizations here in Los Angeles. This was the first time that many of our host sites were facilitating virtual internships as well, and they similarly demonstrated great creativity and flexibility.
Student projects included:
- Collecting food scraps from community members and processing these scraps into compost
- Native plant seed collecting, processing, and organizing at Ascot Hills Park
- Translation of educational materials into Spanish
- Compiling resources on trails, recreation areas, and wildlife in the San Gabriel Mountains
- Collecting and processing signatures for the CA PUBLIC Lands Act
- Creating outreach flyers and educational videos
- Developing and organizing a comprehensive photo archive for communications & engagement
- Organizing photos and data from a local trash pollution study
- Supporting with note taking and transcribing for their organization's yearly Symposium Series
- Creating and facilitating virtual lessons on local birds for high school students
- Compiling demographic info and contacts for local school outreach and engagement
- Hands-on habitat restoration at the Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook
- Creating social media posts and infographics
- Identifying and recording wildlife from local wildlife cameras
- Creating a lesson for local middle schoolers on wildlife identification
- And more!
This program served as a great learning experience for everyone involved (ourselves included!), and we are grateful to Occidental, our partners, and the incredible students who made this all happened. We hope to be able to continue this program in the future, ideally with all in-person internships! Click here for the final impact report.