Engaging Oakland students in the conservation of endangered salmon habitat
While other teens were pursuing the myriad and occasionally mundane adventures of high school life, Tony Marks-Block was advocating on behalf of environmental justice, and even helped organize an effort to shut down a polluting power plant near San Francisco Bay to promote clean energy and restore adversely affected wetlands. As a program coordinator with the East Bay Academy for Young Scientists (EBAYS), the Cornell University Bachelors degree holder in Natural Resources made it his mission to develop and implement curriculum that gives young people the opportunity to be a part of conservation projects and campaigns through scientific research.
As a TogetherGreen Fellow, Tony intends to establish an ambitious project that will engage principally low-income students of color in Oakland, California (who are already a part of the EBAYS 6-12th grade academic programming structure) with opportunities to participate in extensive field research and conservation efforts within their own local watersheds and the nearby Tomales Bay watershed in Marin County. Youth who rarely leave the city who have experience studying their local watersheds will be able to apply their existing knowledge to non-urban watersheds, and expand their understanding of conservation. The work in Tomales Bay will be oriented towards conserving threatened and endangered salmon habitat within the watershed. Both locally and in Tomales Bay youth will participate in year-round stream bank stabilization, native plant restoration, and water quality monitoring.
“It is very rare for urban youth to even go to the Tomales Bay area,” Tony said. “By engaging our Oakland youth in long-term monitoring and restoration in more complex and dynamic ecosystems, our students will see that the skills they've attained in their local watersheds are transferable, and will help them develop a more complex conservation ethic and skill set.”