by Clayton Anderson
“Look Up”! was the slogan for this year’s California Assembly. There were some real positives to take away from the event. I spent some time with Marcos Trinidad, Director of the Audubon Center at Debs Park. After showing me around this beautiful center in the Montecito Heights area of Los Angeles, and meeting Natasha Khanna (Audubon California field organizer) and Estefania Palacio (Audubon California Communications and Development Associate) we had a delicious lunch and talked about the challenges of running a nature center.
The weather was great, and after checking into the Plaza Marriott in downtown LA, I settled into two days of avian advocacy: Presentations ranged from bird ecology to political strategy for birds, to impacts of climate change on birds. I was able to assist in the “Peer Networking” event by chairing the educator’s discussion group. During the discussion some common themes came up. One theme was the need for support. After writing all of the curricula for her program, and even after paying from her own pocket to get her program started, one educator was not able to garner any additional financial assistance. A second theme appeared to be a lack of awareness of the need. A couple of educators who were members of chapters which contained urban and/or suburban areas felt there was a lack of awareness in their chapters, as well as, among teachers in the education systems?! They found it difficult to form partnerships. All of the educators at the table felt that outreach and education work was ‘challenging’ regardless of the situation.
On the 2nd day I was a speaker and member of the the discussion panel for “Conversations for a New Generation.” The event was well attended. It seemed the main concerns were: ‘How do we engage?’ And ‘Why Diversity?’ To the latter question I answered: “Nature, by its nature is Diverse”, which received warm applause. All of the presentations I attended were interactive, informative and well organized (Thanks Ariana!). And the food was great, particularly the squash soup, Yum!
On our last day, I signed up for the birding trip to Bolsa Chica. Vic Liepzig was our leader from Sea and Sage Audubon. We saw over 70 species. Being the intrepid birders we are, Vic offered to take me, along with Kenneth Sobon and Matthew Forster (both from Altacal Audubon), over to the ‘birding hotspot’ Huntington Park. Famished and feet hurting, we decided to take a break, and after a ‘bright healthy’ meal at Del Taco, we squeezed in one more birding spot. We ended up with well over 100 species. Avian stars included: Brant Goose, Snowy Plover, Cassin’s Kingbird, Redhead, White-faced Ibis, Townsend’s Warbler, Great horned Owl, Peregrine Falcon, one rarity – a Yellow-crowned Night Heron, and one “lifer” for me – a Reddish Egret!
All-in-all the assembly was amazing. Birds have, once again, been a spring-board for me, offering opportunities to see new things, eat some excellent food, and meet some great people, who care about our planet.
Clay joined Golden Gate Audubon in 2017 as the Youth Programs Manager. He is an environmental educator and professional artist who became a naturalist and birder as a child, although he didn’t get his first pair of binoculars until graduating from high school. Clay has a B.A. in Drawing and Painting from San Jose State University. He has worked with a number of environmental education organizations, including California State Parks and Recreation, East Bay Regional Park District and The Oakland Museum.