Earth Team Hosts Campus Cleanup at Pinole Valley High School


Earth Team Pinole hosted an end of the year campus cleanup at Pinole Valley High School this past week. All PVHS students were invited to volunteer after school and help interns complete their final litter assessment using NOAA’s Marine Debris Tracker App. Volunteers broke up into teams led by Earth Team interns and spread out across campus to target litter hotspots.

In just under 2 hours we collected 3,166 pieces of litter!


Afterward, the team discussed the importance of maintaining and protecting their local watershed. Cleaning up litter on campus is an effort to prevent litter ending up in Pinole Creek and eventually the Pacific Ocean. We were glad to see how many students cared about their community and wanted to help make a difference that day.

Earth Team was impressed with the hard work put in by each student volunteer! We hope to see them again at future Earth Team events.


Pinole Student Blog: The Interns


The Interns
Poem by Emma Lubinger

Fifteen strangers
Sit in a
Ramshackle portable

In a week
They will know
Each other’s

In a month
They will learn
They are all as

And that
It’s okay
To be themselves

And to laugh
Along with the
of the
Bubbling Creek

The blossoming

And the places
They tidied
And kept

The will learn

They have

For My Earth Team

Pinole Community Comes Together for Pinole Creek Service Day


The start of Spring brought cloudy skies and rainy days, but the sun shone through on Earth Team Pinole’s first ever community event this past Saturday. For weeks now, the team had been planning and organizing this event and we’re excited to say it was a success! The team was happy to greet familiar faces and dedicated volunteers–some visiting from as far as Antioch and Concord to come lend a hand! Together, we worked under the sun’s warm rays to bring some health back into the Pinole Creek watershed.


The day was jam-packed with a variety of activities to help volunteers understand all the components that go into maintaining a healthy watershed. Earth Team interns led litter assessments, water quality test demonstrations, “native vs. invasive species” discussions, and native plant installations.




By the end of the event, Earth Team interns and volunteers collected and tracked 1,146 pieces of litter using NOAA’s Marine Debris Tracker app. A patch of invasive grasses and weeds was transformed into a garden, and new home, for 28 native plants! Thanks to our partnership with the Pinole Valley Community Church, community members can now find 12 different native plant species in our garden including Coyote Brush, Yarrow, Mugwort, California Blackberry, Arroyo Lupine, California Sagebrush, and the beloved state flower, California Poppy!



Hear what Earth Team Pinole interns had to say about the event:

“The earth team event was a blast. I had fun and I was told a lot of the volunteers did too. I was really happy to see a lot of volunteers come in and everyone work together to build the garden and clean the creek. I think it built a better community and I hope in the future more people will be influenced just like the young kids that came wanting to help. It was also great that some of the Pinole Valley High School students that came gave interest in joining Earth Team next year!”  –Tricia T.

This is probably the best day of Earth Team for me. I enjoyed it a lot and I’d like to participate in similar events in which we are the organizers. My friends said they are considering joining the team next year! I’m so happy!!! Thank you for helping us organize an event like this. I have learned so much from this!” -June N. 


Thanks to our partners at Pinole Valley Community Church, Pinole Valley High School, and Friends of Pinole Creek Watershed for helping us put on this event! Lastly, thanks to all the hardworking volunteers, including Earth Team Antioch and Earth Team Hercules interns, who came and helped the team out! We couldn’t have done it without you!


Pinole Earth Team Lends a Hand at Point Pinole Regional Shoreline


Pinole interns made a visit to Point Pinole Regional Shoreline last month and helped park rangers with their restoration efforts to maintain the park’s marshland. Marsh wetlands serve many ecological purposes and they are duly important as our first line of defense against rising sea tides. After a short hike down Cook’s Point trail, we arrived at Whittel Marsh. Here interns put their strength to the test and spent their morning removing invasive plant species while learning how to safely use weed removal tools including handsaws, loppers, and weed wrenches. Dodging budding poison oak and being careful not to disturb nesting birds, volunteers removed several square feet of invasive coyote bush plants and sprouting eucalyptus and acacia tree saplings. Thanks to the conversations between the park rangers and volunteers, Earth Team interns had the opportunity to learn more about the day to day responsibilities of regional park rangers and summer job opportunities with the East Bay Regional Park District.

_DSC9476 3.jpg

This volunteer event at Point Pinole Regional Shoreline is a monthly occurrence hosted by the East Bay Regional Park District. You can learn more about volunteering at your local park here.


Stay tuned for more events hosted by Earth Team Pinole this Spring!

Fall Planting at Pinole’s Native Plant Garden


For over a month, Pinole Earth Team has been excited to begin installation of a native plant garden adjacent to Pinole Creek. We spent one Saturday morning this Fall planting 15 new native plants including California White Sage, California Sagebrush, Yarrow, and Deergrass. Native plants such as these are important for a variety of bee, bird, and butterfly populations.


For several interns, it was their first time gardening and they all expressed how much fun they had that morning. While some planted, others worked on equally important tasks that come with maintaining a garden–removing invasive plants. We tackled trailing Ivy plants and thorny Himalayan Blackberry shrubs that were beginning to creep up the slope towards our garden site. Next semester we plan to continue planting more native plants and hope to increase community engagement with Pinole Creek’s watershed.


Pinole Earth Team is grateful to the members of the Pinole Valley Community Church who have allowed us to install our garden on their property. Collaborations such as this one are monumentally important to maintaining and restoring native habitats in local watersheds. Stay tuned for great things to come next semester with Pinole Earth Team!


Meet Earth Team Interns at Pinole Valley High School


Emma Lubinger. Hi, my name is Emma and I’m a senior at Pinole Valley High School. I’m really excited to work with Earth Team because I love being outside. Earth Team is a great way for me to get out more while giving back to my community. In my free time, I love to write poetry, make short films, and hang out with friends.


Elizabeth Johnston. Hi, my name is Elizabeth! I am a senior at Pinole Valley High School. I am excited to work with my classmates to help our community. In my free time, I play varsity tennis and I am in the school’s marching band.


Kazandra Contreras. Hi my name is Kazandra Contreras, I’m a senior at Pinole Valley High School. I’m really excited to be a part of Earth Team this year because I really want to learn about ways I can help my planet. I’m also ecstatic about meeting others and working with them. One fun fact about me is that I love the ocean.


Jhoaris Menjivar. Hi, my name is Jhoaris, I’m a senior at Pinole Valley High School. I’m excited to be part of the Earth Team because I want to make a difference in my community, starting with the little things. Also, I want to be part of a team that is dedicated to doing that. One fun fact about me is that I listen to a lot of Spanish music.


David Tran. Hi my name is David. I’m in senior year at Pinole Valley High School. I’m intrigued to be a part of Earth Team because I want to contribute more to my community. Also, it would be a new learning experience for me. 


My Nguyen. Hi, my name is My. I’m a senior at Pinole Valley High School. I signed up for Earth Team because I think this is a really helpful internship. It will help me learn about the environment and protect the environment. I also want to meet new people from this internship. One fun fact about me is that I cut my hair by myself when I was 6.


Ngoc ‘June’ Nguyen. Hi my name is Ngoc, but you can call me June. I’m a Junior from Pinole Valley High School. I signed up for Earth Team because I want to help our environment. I also want to communicate and work with other people. I believe this is a very good and helpful internship because I can learn, go to outdoor activities, and interact with nature and more people. I like to eat Asian food and watch movies.


Jeremy Francisco. Hi my name is Jeremy Francisco and I’m in 11th grade. This year I’m excited to make new friends and help make our environment better. A fun fact about me is that by the time you’ve read this, I will have gone skydiving at the age of 16.


Joey Ow. Hi my name is Joey Ow, I hope you’re having a good day. I’m a Junior at Pinole Valley High School. I’m excited to be a part of Earth Team this year for the social activities and hands-on experience. Fun Fact: I’m fully Asian and I love the Asian culture and entertainment.


Norma Sanchez. Hi my name is Norma. I’m a Junior at Pinole Valley High School. I’m very excited to help our community and to do different activities with my team members. Fun Fact: I laugh a lot and wear a lot of black clothes.


Tricia Nicole Tuana. Hi my name is Tricia. I’m a junior at Pinole Valley High School. I am excited to try out new things in this team and meet new people. I am excited to get out of my comfort zone and try new activities I’ve never done before. Fun Fact: I am part of the PV marching band, I play the Flute.


Zaid Ceja. Hi, my name is Zaid Ceja and I attend Pinole Valley High. I am a Junior and I turn 17 on April 13. The reason I attend Earth Team is because I wanted to help out our community. Earth Team is also a good way to learn more about our environment. A fun fact about me is that I like to skate and love listening to music.


Jaylin Kent. Hi, my name is Jaylin and I’m a junior at Pinole Valley. I am excited to learn more about our ecosystem and how to make our environment healthier. Also, I’m excited to become more aware of how the thing we do affect our planet. One fun fact about me is that I play softball.

[Not Photographed: Jenna Quintero]

Jenna Quintero. Hi my name is Jenna, I’m a Junior at Pinole Valley. I’m excited to learn more about nature and our environment. I want to make our community a better place. Also, I want to work more with the people around me. Fun Fact: I’m learning American Sign Language.


Student Blog: Why Earth Team is Rad


HOW ARE YOU DOING! This is just one of the fourteen rad Earth Team members here at Pinole Valley High School. Together as a team, I BELIEVE we can make a difference! Earth Team has helped me open my eyes to what is really going on with our environment. It has helped me become an overall better person. Making new friends and meeting new people is great, but when you’re doing it while making a change is even better. All of my trips with Earth Team have taught me something. I’ve learned how to put myself in other people’s shoes. I’ve learned to jump out of my comfort zone and to do certain things that teach me to appreciate life just a little bit more. Earth Team has taught me to slow down sometimes when I am stressed and to stop thinking about the bad things that are happening, but to focus on the good. Being a part of Earth Team has taught me a lot, but one of the most important things I have learned is to truly enjoy the little things. Even something as simple as reading a book or walking outside on a sunny day.

My name is Jeremy Francisco and thank you for listening to my Ted Talk.  

Learning About Invasive Species at the “Creek Invaders” Event

Joey, Tricia, Emma, and Norma learning about projects happening at the Contra Costa Flood Control District

This month, Earth Team interns at Pinole Valley High School attended “Creek Invaders,” an event hosted by the Walnut Creek Watershed Council at Diablo Valley College where they learned about the impact of invasive species in our local creeks. Interns had the opportunity to network with professionals and learn more about projects happening in Contra Costa County to protect local watersheds. Read more about one intern’s experience:

” I attended the Creek Invaders event, hosted by the Walnut Creek Watershed Council, and I had a wonderful time. I learned a lot about invasive species that I didn’t know before. I had no idea that there were 50,000 invasive species in the U.S. or that only a few were actually intentionally brought into the U.S. For example, the Kudzu vine grows up to one foot a day and completely overtook the South and the Brown Tree Snake has infested itself into just about every nook and cranny that Guam has to offer.

I talked to a ton of different people about things that they were passionate about. There were these guys at the meet and greet talking about possible usages for a bad invasive plant species. They said that they may be able to dry the plant out and use it to build homes for bees. It was creative and helpful, as there is an excess of the plant, and if you’re going to have an apiary, you need a little bee house.

As far as careers go, I learned that I can be a drone operator, head of an organization that cares about Trout, or someone who studies watersheds. I didn’t really know that these careers existed. I guess I never really thought about how all of these things got taken care of in our society.

I’m really glad that I went to the DVC event because I bonded a lot closer with my fellow interns. I got to know a lot of really cool people and made quite a few new friends. “

-Emma Lubinger, Earth Team Intern at Pinole

Zaid and Tricia watching a drone demonstration

Utilizing the Marine Debris Tracker App at Pinole Valley High


Earth Team interns at Pinole Valley High School spent a sunny September afternoon conducting a litter assessment at their school’s campus. They teamed up and used the Marine Debris Tracker app to collect litter data to try and identify the biggest litter concern on their campus. Collectively the group picked up 798 pieces of litter in less than an hour!


After using the app, interns were able to see the direct impact of their efforts using the ZeroLitter Map. They realized how many plastic food wrappers end up on the ground instead of being disposed of properly in garbage bins. Many students expressed how alarming it was to have collected so many pieces of litter in such a short time.


Here’s what one student had to say about using the Marine Debris Tracker app:

When me and other members were cleaning the school, the app itself was easy to use and really helped show us how much trash we picked up. I’ve never used the app before but it came in handy when doing a clean up for our community. Anybody who downloads the Marine Debris Tracker app has access to it for free. The majority of the things me and my peers picked up included candy wrappers, chip bags, and other plastics. The total litter collected from my group was 108 pieces. The app is called the “Marine Debris Tracker” because trash surrounded around us can still end up in the ocean. This activity inspires me to do more to help out my community since others won’t. Anyone can learn how to use the Marine Debris Tracker app because it’s simple and self-explanatory. The only trouble I had was categorizing a specific piece of trash on the list provided by the app, other than that it’s easy and very useful!”

-David Tran, Earth Team intern at Pinole Valley HS