Flora & Fauna of Fountaingrove – Sonia Lakshmanan, 15

I created this project because I want to show my fellow Teenatters how something polluted on the outside can still have beauty within. At first glance, my neighborhood may look like an overgrown wasteland littered with trash from construction. In fact, after many glances it still looked like that. I have lived here for nine months now and thought there were only weeds and a few flowers here and there left behind. But I was wrong. When I started this project, I didn’t think there was going to be much to talk about. Maybe I saw a bird here and some depressed looking flowers over there. However, this project made me more determined to prove myself wrong. I didn’t solely want to think of what was my once beautiful childhood neighborhood as a noise-polluted construction zone. I knew there was beauty somewhere I just had to find it. So I guess that was the motivation behind my project. I’m glad I chose it too because I was quite successful in finding what I had ventured out for.

My project took in total around two weeks. The first week I focused on recording my observations. However, it was quite challenging to find a peaceful,quiet spot surrounded by nature nearby in a neighborhood full of construction. To say the least, I got my exercise walking up and down several hills everyday. The following weekend I made a watercolor drawing of the habitat around me, but it didn’t turn out as exact as I would have liked it. I then printed out the pictures I liked the best out of all of my sightings. I actually thought they turned out pretty good! That Monday I glued everything on my poster and decorated it.

Overall, my project was really fun to create, and it was a great learning experience. I really tried to hone in on what we had learned from our photography lessons to capture the best photographs possible. I also made an iNaturalist account and uploaded a bunch of photos. Some of them have already been considered research grade! The most enjoyable part of my project was probably going on one of the walks to observe with my family. We saw a great view of the sunset, and it was just nice to get out of the house and enjoy the fresh air. I am excited to see what other opportunities like TeenNat might be in my future!

Learn more from Sonia about her project documenting post-fire biodiversity in her neighborhood here: