Interns Spearhead Their Own Abyss of The Unknown on Marine Debris


If an adjective had to be chosen to describe the aura of this year’s Richmond ET interns, bets would be placed on mettlesome – fiery and full of spirt. Fiery in the sense of the burning sensation that is their conscious, as can be seen through their excitement. Full of spirit from how they refuse to not understand the issues their community faces. In this meeting’s case, it’s how long marine debris lasts in the ocean.

Continuing with ocean waste education, it was unanimous that an interactive activity was in order to learn about how long marine debris truly lasts in the environment.

They were given a short list of items most commonly found in marine debris sites (glass bottle, plastics, rope/fishing nets, etc.), and a list of durations (3 months, 50 years, 200 years, etc.). The goal was simple: match each marine debris item with their corresponding timeframe. Interns wasted no time in figuring out the timeline.


Team work was extremely prevalent;  interns Allison, Daphne, Bryant, and Guadalupe delegated tasks for a quicker turnaround time. The pressure was building as each team were inching nearer to completion, but that did not mean the timeline presented itself with some curveballs! Make no mistake; without any prior knowledge of marine debris, it would be an extremely difficult task to complete.


They had to discuss, critically think, use their deduction skills (and not to mention their gut), to crack the timeline. Interns Linda and Mariana were constantly in debate while Dzalia ferociously contemplated the duration of a monofilament fishing line.

Once all was said and done, they were excited to see the fruit of their labor come to fruition. The highest scoring team got 5 correct; but it wasn’t the amount right that mattered. Interns were shocked to find out that no expert knows how long a glass bottle lasts as marine debris! Interns were in disarray, to say the least.


From this experience, their sense of agency overpowered the sense of despair, for now they felt equipped with the knowledge they accumulated from this meeting to take action! Great job to all interns!



Waste Action Youth Conduct Litter Assessment in Richmond


This was only the second meeting for the Richmond High School (RHS) Earth Team interns and they are already hitting the ground running! This was first meeting after the Coastal Cleanup Day, and they reflected on how much litter they collected. All interns communicated and were in consensus that more should be done regarding litter, and that 3rd meeting was their lucky day!

These intelligent interns got down to business and immediately took them only several minutes to learn how to use the Marine Debris Tracker App, an application developed in part by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to increase public engagement in citizen science.

It did not take long at all before Richmond’s waste action leaders took to their campus and conducted their first litter audit! They immediately knew where the hotspots might be – the sports complex, including the football field and stadium, cross country track, and the surrounding green area. Those pesky football players!


They split up in groups of 3-4 and within the hour and it was not long after that they needed more trash bags! No bush was unchecked; and indeed they searched every nook and cranny! ET interns Elly, Guadalupe, and Allison (left to right) conducted an in-depth assessment of a bamboo patch and found many items.


Teamwork was extremely prevalent during the assessment. Interns Bryant, Mariana, and Marisol worked together tirelessly and made it their mission to collect more litter than any other group!


All in all, interns appreciated the fact that they got to go outside and make a positive impact on their campus. They collected a total of 6 trash bags and over 900 pieces of litter! Great job to every waste action leader!


2018- 2019 Richmond High School Program Kick-off

IMG_1222 (1)

Earth Team is back at Richmond High School for another year of hard work and fun! Mina Nada, Project Coordinator and Richmond H.S. project lead, presented to 4 classes reaching about 484 students for this years program. After receiving over 26 applications we narrowed it down to 14 amazing interns!

Our team spent our first meeting getting to know one another, participating in team building activities, setting group agreements for the year, and learning about the program logistics.

We look forward to another great year at Richmond High School!


Richmond Air Quality Interns Conduct Transportation Surveys

Screen Shot 2017-03-17 at 3.02.23 PM

The Transportation Action Plan (TAP)

Earth Team inters worked diligently in the data collection for the TAP calculator which, in short, calculates the pounds of CO2 emitted per week by forms of transportation. Inters are focusing on collecting data in order to create, lead, and implement a plan that will reduce CO2 emissions by persuading and encouraging students to use alternative modes of transportation but first, pizza!

The interns collect data such as, miles traveled to and from school daily, and mode of transportation. They will then input data into the TAP calculator which consists of an excel spread sheet that will then give students the ability to create graphs in order to run community outreach campaigns. Earth Team pushes to not only inspire students to create change but to also make sure they are using the proper tools to back up their movement towards a cleaner environment. Creating change in the environment such as air quality also improves health for example, by reducing the asthma rates in high vulnerable communities.


Air Quality Interns Calculate Carbon Sequester Efforts of Earth Team Trees


If climate change is the result of humans adding carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, is there a way to take some of that stuff out of the air? Yes, there is! Trees absorb CO2 from the air and store the carbon in their biomass (wood). Trees are actually part of a carbon cycle: they absorb carbon during their lifetime and then release that carbon after they die and decompose. Still, trees may be an affective strategy for soaking up carbon in the short interim.

The Air Quality Interns at Richmond High School learned about trees ability to sequester carbon, and began a project to calculate the amount of carbon absorbed by certain trees.

The interns started with a list of trees planted by the Urban Forestry Internship. Using the data from those trees, the interns began using a tool developed by US Forest Service and Cal Fire to calculate tree carbon sequestration of these trees over the next 40 years. Stay tuned for the results!



Air Quality Rolls the Dice on Climate Change


Climate change is a difficult topic to comprehend for many reasons, but especially because there many interconnected parts that are not obviously related. How does the invisible emissions from my car contribute to drought conditions on the other side of the world? Another difficult part to understanding the problem, is that many of the consequences are not yet realized and difficult to imagine. What does an increase of temperature look like in my city in 10 year, 20 years, 50 years?

To address these issues, another Earth Team Internship, Skyline, helped create an educational board game that mimics environmental conditions in cities. Players roll a dice to determine the temperature, air quality, and precipitation in their imaginative city. Players also can add things like trees and bikes to their game board to help control heat and pollution from reaching unsafe levels. The object of the game is to increase your city population, which requires the players to keep their city safe from hazardous conditions.

The Air Quality Interns helped the board game entitled Save Our City, to test the rules and make suggestions. They also learned quite a lot about how the pieces of a city fit together to help or hurt urban residents.

Air Quality Interns Explore Merits of a Carbon Tax


On Thursday, January 5th, the Richmond Air Quality Interns spoke with Put A Price On It campaigner Tom Erb to learn more about creative solutions to climate change.

Erb, a college student traveling to raise awareness about the idea of a carbon tax, was recently featured in an episode of the National Geographic series Years of Living Dangerously. The episode, “Priceless” explores some of the tangible evidence of climate change like the decline of elephant populations in parts of Africa. Young people from around the country also share their efforts to promote the taxing of carbon emitters.

“A carbon tax is a tax that companies would pay because of the carbon [they] released into the air.” – Jaqeuline Miranda

The Air Quality Interns screened the episode with Tom, and then discussed his campaign efforts. And the good and bad of a carbon tax.

“I believe this is a good thing because then carbon dioxide will be reduced and maybe we can slow down global warming.” – Linda Marquez

The Interns also practiced some of the skills Tom has learned for speaking with public officials about promoting a cause.

“You can educate people about what a carbon tax is and why it’s important. You could talk to the government (local or federal) or make a petition.” – Valeria Rocha

Air Quality Interns Investigate Biking in Richmond


Bike East Bay visited the Richmond High School Air Quality Internship on December 8th, 2016. Cynthia Armour, the Advocacy Manager at Bike East Bay, shared with the interns about ongoing and future bike infrastructure development projects in Richmond. She also spoke about different biking opportunities like Bike to Work/School Day in May.

Armed with a map of Richmond and markers, the interns mapped their current transportation route in a color indicating their mode of travel; for example, driving. Next the interns used google maps on a phone or ipad to determine a legitimate bike route, and they mapped this also on their paper map.

With Cynthia, the interns also discussed why people already bike to school and what prevents them from doing so. The interns will use this information to create surveys to distribute in their school to gather more data about student bike ridership.

Air Quality Interns Calculate Their Carbon Emissions

IMG_1452 (1).JPG

On December 1st, 2016, the Air Quality Interns at Richmond High School measured the amount of carbon they emit by traveling to and from school each week. They started by gathering data on how they each travel – walking, driving, bus, ect. Next they determined the milage for the round trip they each travel. Other information was considered such as each car’s MPG and number of passengers in a carpool. Finally with all the input they used the Transportation Action Project (TAP) Calculator developed for Earth Team by MTC and BAAQMD consultants in 2010 to assess VMT-CO2 emissions.


The interns will next consider ways they can reduce their transportation carbon emissions and attempt to travel differently.