The Escondido Creek Conservancy has recently begun plans to enhance the flood channel in Grape Day Park into a beautiful creek walk that would not only benefit our community, but also be an asset to aquatic ecosystems. As we started imagining the transformation, we realized this project will only be successful if we are able to serve the needs of wildlife, local businesses, and the surrounding communities. To help represent the surrounding communities, we’ve recruited a group of 12 students–13 more to be recruited by January–living along or near the concrete flood channel, called Conservation Fellows.
The Conservation Fellowship aims to bring voices into the project from those whose communities would be most be affected by the restoration. Since July, students have been involved in some of the initial planning phases of the restoration project–including networking with technical professionals in economics, engineering, and biology. Throughout the process, students are beginning to ask questions about the creek and the proposed project in Grape Day Park. In the next few months, these questions will evolve into projects that will help address the challenges to create a more vibrant Escondido Creek. We hope this process sparks in the conservation fellows a passion for the environment and the Escondido Creek watershed that could result in them becoming future leaders–in engineering, art, science or conservation–within whichever career path they choose. Fellows will gain experience that will help them get into college and succeed in life.
But life is not all about work. We know that many local youths have never been hiking, have never been camping, have never been to the beach, and have never been to the stunning Elfin Forest Interpretive Center located just minutes from downtown Escondido. With support from the Malk Nature Fund, Parker Foundation, and your donations, the Conservancy has already coordinated outdoor experiences for the fellows throughout the watershed and will continue to do so throughout the next year. This series of outdoor adventures introduce the fellows to nature, in nature, adding depth and meaning to their fellowship experience.