Park Habitat Clean-Up & Analysis – Bruno McDarrah, 16; Drake Newell, 16; Sam Cramer 16

We created this project because we wanted to look at and document the amount of trash in our local ecosystem. We also wanted to see the impact that the trash had on the plants and animals in that same area. The main thing I want people to get out of our project is a better understanding of how trash interacts with nature and how littering is still a serious issue in many urban and suburban ecosystems. In order to complete this project, Sam, Bruno and I purchased latex gloves and trash bags in order to collect the trash that we encountered. We then went out several times into different natural environments in Petaluma, like the Lynch Creek Trail and Helen Putnam Regional Park. We took pictures of interesting plants and animals that we found, as well as of most of the trash that we collected, before picking it up. We then used iNaturalist to identify the various plants and animals that we photographed. One challenge we encountered was photographing moving animals, like deer as well as birds in flight. We also occasionally found trash that we deemed too unsafe for us to collect, like several used surgical masks that we found in different places. We spent the most time on picking up the trash, second only to searching for interesting animals to photograph, since they generally stay away from people most of the time. The most enjoyable part of this project was the satisfaction of collecting so much garbage, as well as seeing the many stunning pictures that we took. – Drake Newell

I hope that when other people hear about my project they realize how easy it is to help your local community and ecosystems and become inspired to help pick up trash and plastic. Challenges we encountered were the timing aspect, making sure Drake and Sam could both come to the park at the same time, and finding animals to photograph. Since we were on the trails the whole time it was hard to find large animals or animals at all that didn’t move too fast to take pictures of. – Bruno McDarrah

I hope that people can take into account the consequences of littering and other destructive actions and change to better both their character and the environment. The most enjoyable part of my project was that despite the craziness of COVID-19, we were able to enjoy and help protect nature together in the wonderful environments that are Helen Putnam Regional Park and the Lynch Creek trail. – Sam Cramer

Hear about Bruno, Drake, and Sam’s collaborative project in their presentation here: