As the newest member of the MRT team, I have already learned a great deal – why there is an inverse relationship between Red Swamp Crayfish and the vulnerable California red-legged frog, the difficulties associated with removing invasive Spanish Broom, and even good advice on how to make sure I stop killing my house plants (I was overwatering if you were curious).

But what I’ve found to be the most pervasively interesting part about my short time here is the genuine, unshakeable passion that my fellow colleagues have for the work that they do. Even on days that the Earth seems to be on fire, temperatures well over 100 degrees, the restoration experts at MRT work tirelessly and enthusiastically reestablishing native habitat on our Santa Monica mountainsides. For over 35 years, MRT has been the local expert in the realm of restoration and I was so excited when I had the opportunity to join this organization and its immense wealth of knowledge.

This is especially true because I didn’t come from an “environmentally-friendly” background. In fact quite the opposite: I grew up in your average Southern California suburb riddled with minivans and strip malls. I didn’t hike, or camp or play outside as often as I should have. And while I had always thought that nature was “cool”, it took an impromptu backpacking trip to Big Sur and one excellent college professor to really turn me on to the illustrious beauty that is our natural environment. Because of my personal experience, I know the value of a great environmental education. MRT’s Cold Creek Docent Program is just that: a great environmental resource for kids who wouldn’t normally get a chance to explore nature in their day-to-day lives. And luckily for me, I am working to become a trained Cold Creek Docent! It almost feels as if I am “paying it forward,” an homage to my Sophomore-year professor.

Working at an organization that devotes its time to restoring the natural environment of Southern California is an incredibly rewarding experience. But MRT can’t do it without the help of its incredible volunteers! Because of my role as MRT’s Development and Volunteer Coordinator, I get to talk to prospective volunteers everyday. And regardless of who it is – a school group, a company, or just a single person wanting to help – I am always impressed by the passion that our volunteers have for Mother Nature! I encourage everyone to spend a Saturday morning planting or removing invasive crayfish with us! Your hard work directly supports our beautiful Santa Monica Mountains.

While I’ve learned a lot at MRT (and I’m sure as time passes, I will only learn more), I still wouldn’t trust me with your houseplants. 🙂