Julianny Ortiz

Carla Vega

Reanna Bhagwandeen

Wiener Douyon

Maxwell Jackson

5 Fall PLACE Fellows walk away from the camera down a paved path through a forest in Wompatuck State Park

Wompatuck State Park

10.6.18 - by Carla Vega

On our first trip, we camped overnight at Wompatuck State Park. Because this was our first time all meeting each other, a lot of time was spent doing team building activities to help us get to know one another. From the moment we got out of Kristina’s Ford Explorer, we were challenged to build our own tents without any instructions or help from Sophia and Kristina. With the help of Julianny and Weiner’s prior camping experiences, the five of us worked diligently to build our tents in under 15 minutes. In a way, I think this activity foreshadowed how well we’d work together as a team in the future.

Later on that night, we ate burgers and hot dogs by the campfire, followed by smores. As the heat from the fire kept us warm, Wiener and Max occasionally would try to scare us by pretending to be bears in the bushes.

The following day we met with Nina and her team. Together, the four taught us how to preserve wooden window frames using a method that is centuries old. Me and the rest of the PLACE Fellows even got a chance to practice some window glazing. In addition to learning about how to preserve windows, we also got a chance to talk to Nina and her team about their previous experiences working with the Student Conservation Association and all the opportunities they got to travel, while working to protect the environment. After speaking with Nina’s team, we spoke with Susan from DCR. Susan taught us a bit about the history of the Harbor Islands and also talked to us about the many opportunities that kids our age have to work for the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation including the Harbor Islands. Overall, it was exciting to learn about all the different ways that we can work to protect the environment while sometimes traveling and even getting paid for it.

Our visit to Wompatuck State Park ended with a nice hike to a beautiful little lake. On our hike, we ran into many friendly dogs and got to enjoy the fresh air and nature surrounding us. Julianny and I even used some berries we found as pink lipstick. All in all the hike was the perfect way to end our camping trip at Wompatuck State Park.

Deer Island

10.20.18 - by Reanna Bhagwandeen

While learning about the Boston Harbor Clean Up, we visited Deer Island, my group and I walked along the island observing the beauty of it. While we were there we had met Shawn, Shawn is a National Park Service Ranger. He had a presentation prepared for us so we can give him constructive feedback. We had learned how to give constructive feedback earlier that day and we learned the difference between good and bad feedback.  In the presentation, the main topic of discussion was King Philip’s War. Shawn Shanes presentation, he had spoken about the harbor islands history, how they were used by Native Americans, the relationship between Natives and Europeans, Land ownership, disease, and the Deer Island Internment. One thing that interested me was the way in how he told the story. The biggest thing that I learned was that the way in how you tell history is one of the most important things when telling anyone about history. Misconceptions are always caused by wrong or misunderstood information.

After Shane departed, we went on and walked to the Sewage Treatment Plant on the hill. We then talked about the history of Deer Island as we observed the Sewage Treatment Plant. After talking about the history we went on to meet Pat. Pat works in the Sewage Treatment Plant, he had said he worked with the numbers. He volunteered to teach us about how the Sewage Treatment Plant on Deer Island operates. He taught us the process of how waste goes out from one’s home to the plant. He also taught us what it takes to be able to get the kind of job that he has and the amount of work needed for the job. The skill that I acquired from the trip to Deer Island is making connections, Shane had made many great points during his presentation which made me think a lot. It made me realize the importance of a skill like interpretation. This can help further me in my future career as it can help me recognize patterns, find and understand a greater meaning in things that many people overlook

Climate Change in Boston (Office Day)

10.27.18 - by Julianny Ortiz

On our third weekend, we spent the day at the office at 45 Devonshire St. There was a rainstorm the whole day and coincidentally that day we also discussed and learned about climate change in the Boston Harbor. We had two visitors come in: Julie and Alisha. Julie Wormser, who works for the Mystic River Water Association, shared many points with the group about managing Boston’s wet future. She shared  facts about different aspects of climate change and the consequences, socially as well as environmentally. From Julie’s presentation, I learned about income inequality in Boston and generally. I learned that weather isn’t racist, housing is, as there are many racist housing placements. Julie made me realize that I am passionate about advocating for my community because climate change is something that is real, yet so many people are so unaware. The government needs to promote the construction of more resilient housing, especially in low income communities. The city of Boston must update the architectural aspect of the city and elevate infrastructure, to protect homes and areas from flooding.

Alisha Pegan, who works for the City of Boston’s Greenovate Boston program, shared a similar powerpoint with a variety of maps. I enjoyed learning about this subject, as it is what spiked my interest in advocating for the environment and informing others about things we the people, can do as a community to prepare for the wet future. As part of a low income/ minority community, I felt so intrigued by this topic because I learned that it’s my community and the more poor areas in Boston, and even across the country, that get affected more and worse by Climate Change. We explored a website that allowed us to get our hands on a GIS map and play with different features and see which areas are projected to be at risk of flooding and extreme heat due to rising temperatures, etc. The app allows you to see different population demographics to better understand the social factors that cause vulnerability (correlation).  Kristina and Sophia were also really devoted to give us a private class on how to create a story map, which I found interesting, as this skill could be useful in any career I choose as well as for school. Moving forward, I have more clarity on the career path I would like to take.

Thompson Island

11.10.18 - by Wiener Douyon

The relaxing sounds of wind, the crashing of the waves, and the observation of a Sea Squirt, yes a Sea Squirt, are all components of what made our recent excursion to Thompson Island worthwhile. We had taken part in their occasional Stewardship Saturday, where we learned the detriments of invasive species in a given habitat. Invasive species are aggressive and spur imbalance within an ecosystem. Because they are in a new habitat, there are no predators or other natural phenomena that keep their population in check. In effect, invasive species tend to out-compete native species, and alter the habitat if nothing is done. We were tasked to do something about it.

After docking, we met Bill and Andrew, who are specialists in their field of Environmental Conservation while working in National Park Service. They taught us the different invasive plants we should look for, and the distinct physical properties of each invasive to make identifying them easier. Some of the plant we focused on removing were Multiflora roses, Buckthorns, and Japanese Honeysuckles. To remove these plants, we used loppers, hand saws, and hand pruners. Oh, and not to forget, we had gloves and were taught safety measures. You could even say that we are certified invasive species removers, after seeing some of my group members handle those bad boys!

Looking back, I find it funny to think that I made a habit to check my ankles for ticks, in spite of returning to city life. We learned more than removing invasive species. We learned about each other and personal facets of our identity that were never previously mentioned. We were introduced to the career journeys of Andrew and Bill, who are both amazing, in their respective ways. I enjoyed seeing the various specimen that grew on Hemp ropes, fastened to the side the dock. We practiced the outlines of our presentation, which is on December 1st, to another volunteer, and heard great insight on how we can develop our ideas.

In all, we got down and did the dirty work, in the name of conservation. It felt good that we were helping to make a difference in maintaining healthy ecosystems. It was fun going to Thompson Island, in spite of the constant fear of having ticks.

On behalf of the group, I would like to thank Bill and Andrew for inspiring us to enter the field of conservation. The National Park Service offers so many different areas of interest that people can be involved in. What’s even cooler is that for the careers that they don’t provide, you can create your own as long as it falls under preserving natural and cultural resources, or their mission.

The experiences and memories made were second to none. I genuinely love my team!

Charlestown Navy Yard

11.17.18 - by Maxwell Jackson

When I learned that we were going to dedicate a day to cultural resources I had many different thoughts. I thought it only had to do with animals but how do cultural resources come into play? So the other fellows and I were excited and eager to learn about cultural resources and how they affect us today. Cultural resources are make meaning out of things and are carried on through stories. Many people get cultural resources mixed up by cultural landscapes, but two aren’t the same. Cultural resources all have similar characteristics, they have a collective importance, they were natural resources changed by man, and usually have a story or are the story. We went to the marine barracks at the Charlestown navy yard and did a couple of activities with a special Celena. The first activity was that we had to bring a significant item and we had to try and figure out the item’s significance.ome were right, others were totally wrong. I brought my headphones and the person who described them (Carla) got it totally right. As I was describing a flask, I guessed it was an item passed down by a family member that passed away due to drinking and I was right. Then we did another activity where we went outside and looked at some pictures and we had to see how over time the navy yard has changed today. Me and Carla’s picture was about the housing for the Navy families. We then started to talk about what we were planning to do after place fellows and to be honest I didn’t know. They met with business card ideas and with my resume. We ended the day at the aquarium and met with Liz that had talked about how they do their part in protecting the water life.