An Epic TeenNat 2022 Comes to a Close

For 21 local high school students, this summer included five weeks of outdoor adventure, new friends, and new perspectives at Pepperwood. That’s right, we’re talking about TeenNat 2022! We introduced this cohort of young scientists to concepts in field research and stewardship, and the teamwork that goes along with it.

Over the course of the program, our “TeenNatters” practiced the basics of outdoor safety and navigation, taxonomy and identifying species, engaging in community (aka: citizen) science, designing field studies, nature journaling, and ecological restoration. They worked in collaborative teams to establish a cover-board project for monitoring wildlife. The teens were shown insight into traditional ecological knowledge on the land with Clint McKay, Indigenous Education Coordinator. The program culminated with student presentations of their independent projects – which showcased how they combined their new learning with their interests. You can find this cohort’s impressive suite of projects in the project gallery!


View Project Gallery

Our SEAs, from left to right: Johnny Urbanski, Xochilt Campos, and Madalyn Rivas.

Our SEAs, from left to right: Johnny Urbanski, Xochilt Campos, and Madalyn Rivas.

Assisting with our summer programming were three awesome TeenNat alumni, joining our team as Summer Education Assistants (SEAs). Our 2022 SEAs were Johnny Urbanski (2017), Madalyn (Maddy) Rivas (2019) and Xochilt Campos (2020). These alums handled tasks ranging from managing materials to leading lessons and keeping up morale during hot hikes. Each of these leaders brought their own unique passions and talents to the program, and served as terrific near-peer mentors to this year’s cohort. 

Johnny was our resident iNaturalist expert, always happy to help with identifications and endemic species facts. “My favorite thing was being able to help educate people about all the intersections of the environment – from its people to the soil,” he said of his experience.

Xochilt loved meeting all the kids and becoming a community. “I really enjoyed my coworkers and all the situations we got into,” she said, “like finding a rattlesnake in the classroom!” You’ve probably guessed that Xochilt encouraged us to get up close and personal with reptiles and amphibians on our excursions, but always with safety in mind – for people and the animals! Respecting our wildlife neighbors is an important part of relating to the natural world around us.

Maddy was a source of advice for independent projects, and made sure everyone had the tools and resources they needed. “My favorite thing about working for TeenNat is that every day is different. I loved learning new things about the preserve each day and sharing my knowledge with others!” We’re grateful for Johnny, Xochilt, and Maddy’s help this summer.

Oh! And check out some of the fun that happened at this year’s TeenNat in this visual gallery, courtesy of our Environmental Educators, Summer Swallow, Holland Gistelli, and Stephanie Gonzalez, and photographer, Ian A. Nelson:

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