Using Technology to Better the Environment: A Glimpse of the Life of an Earth Team Intern

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Earth Team is making a comeback at Pinole High School! Program Manager, Jenna Topper, reached 150 students in 5 classes for early recruitment for the upcoming 2018-2019 school year. This upcoming year, Earth Team will work with 14 paid-interns to reduce waste on and off campus, restore their local creek, and more! In addition to implementing awesome student led projects, interns will get the opportunity to participate in a variety of outdoor excursions including backpacking, river-rafting, mountain biking!

Students were introduced to the Earth Team program and got a feeling for what it is like to be an intern. After watching a video about waste, students learned how to use the Marine Debris Tracker App and discussed how the data is used to create meaningful impact. Then students quickly sprung into action! 

Students finished out the day by collecting over 5,000+ pieces of litter on and around Pinole High campus. A total of 30+ applications were received and many students said it was the most fun they have every had in class!

If you are interested in applying for the Pinole Earth Team Sustainable Youth Program sign up at HERE .



PVHS Earth Team leads Pinole Creek Cleanup!

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Last week on Wednesday, April 29th, Pinole Valley High Earth Team interns led a Pinole Creek cleanup for students interested in making a positive impact. Nine students attended and partnered with an intern to collect the litter. Each litter item was entered into the ZeroLitter app, totaling to 348 pieces of litter. Interns turned the cleanup into a friendly competition for prizes donated by the local Jamba Juice. Winners successfully had the heaviest bags full of litter, and/or the highest quantity of litter which was determined using the ZeroLitter app. Interns and student volunteers had a great time, and inspired local community members who gave the students praise for their help! PVHS Earth Team interns will host another school-wide restoration event on April 19th. Students will have an opportunity to remove invasive species from the banks of Pinole Creek. All PVHS students are welcome, as well as any interested community members! Please email foScreen Shot 2017-03-30 at 11.00.21 AM.pngr more details.

PVHS interns are also accepting donations to install ashtrays at Pinole Creek, in order to prevent cigarette butts from entering the creek. Areas along the creek banks are known to be smoking hotspots, and students hope to provide smokers with a safe and environmentally friendly way to dispose of their finished cigarettes. If you would like to donate please go to Pinole Creek Ashtray Campaign, or mail your check donation to

Earth Team

1301 South 46th Street

Building 155

Richmond, CA 94804

PVHS Earth Team Current Events

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Pinole Valley Earth Team is launching their first two school-wide events! Our goal is to educate and make a difference in our community. We plan to do so by hosting an invasive species removal event and creek clean up. During these past few months, Pinole Valley Earth team has acquired experience from various locations across the Bay Area, removing invasive species and conducting litter assessments. We are recruiting student volunteers and educating them on the importance of these events extensively through hands on experience.

The Pinole creek clean up, led by Sumbal Ghafoor, will be held on Wednesday March 29, 2017. In this event student volunteers will be aided by the Earth Team interns to pick up litter in and around our community. The next event is an invasive species removal, which is led by Allison Sugabo, held on April 19, 2017. In this event, students will be trained to identify and remove invasive plant species with the provided resources. With the help of our fellow volunteers we hope to see a positive change in our local community! lol(:

written by: Allison Sugabo, Angeline Cayanan, Jerlyn Nicdao





Pinole High Waste Audit

screen-shot-2017-02-08-at-11-52-19-am-1This past month, Pinole worked with Program Associate Jenna Topper to assess the waste system on campus. This including an introduction and training in the 3-Bin system, conducting a waste audit, and creating an audit report to present the findings to the Pinole High community.

Jenna has been working very hard with Oakland Tech interns and has successfully implemented the 3-Bin systems at Oakland Tech. Interns are currently monitoring how accurately waste in being disposed and if the bins are effective. Pinole Valley interns were challenged by the waste audit but learned many new things regarding the way the view their waste.

Pinole Creek Ashtray Fundraising!


PVHS Earth Team is working hard to collect enough funds from their community in order to purchase an ashtray for Pinole Creek. Littering cigarette butts has been a notable environmental issue not just at Pinole Creek but all over. It takes cigarettes 10 years to decompose and with the vast amount being littered constantly, our environment is being threatened.

PVHS interns are concerned now more than ever due to the storms that passed through the Bay Area. The heavy rains provide a perfect opportunity for this litter to enter our creeks and streams, eventually into our bay, and than ultimately into the Pacific Ocean. This litter travels and negatively effects many ecosystems spread across the world. We hope that you will help us try to make a difference, and provide smokers a place to properly dispose of their butts. Right now there is not one and we hope to change that.

If you like to support our cause please go to our campaign page.


Pinole Creek Vegetation Monitoring Begins


Intern, Angeline Cayanan, and a beautiful Redwood.

Pinole Valley High Earth Team spent this week learning about environmental monitoring and its importance. Environmental monitoring can be defined as the systematic collection of data from air, water, soil, plants, and animals, in order to observe, study, and obtain knowledge from the process. This process is used by scientists in many different fields and is an aid in detecting negative environmental stressors and implementing the appropriate management plan. PVHS Earth Team interns will begin monthly vegetation surveys of a 1000 ft area along Pinole Creek, in order to monitor the the spread of invasive plants, and determine which native plants are still thriving, and which are barely hanging on. Interns hope that vegetation monitoring of this area of the creek near Pinole Valley High, will lead to a community wide restoration effort to improve the habitat.

Photo by intern, Sumbal Ghafoor.

Earth Team Does Their Part!

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Pinole Valley High Earth Team interns have conducted their 2nd litter assessment of Pinole Creek and Pinole Valley High this week. Litter is a major environmental issue worldwide. 70% of marine debris litter is land based and travels down storm drains, through creeks, and streams, and eventually to beautiful SF Bay. From there litter floats into the Pacific Coast and onward. The most common type of litter is cigarette butts, and plastic. Earth Team discovered this firsthand. Plastics and cigarette butts made the majority of the litter removed along Pinole Creek.

Earth Team does their part to mitigate marine debris by conducting bi-weekly litter assessments. These assessments consist of removing as much litter as possible, collecting data and entering it into the National Oceanic and Atmospheric (NOAA) Marine Debris Tracker App, determining where litter hotspots are and what can be done to keep littering there from happening. Anyone can use NOAA’s Marine Debris Tracker App, it is made to promote citizen science and give anyone the opportunity to make a quantitative difference towards removing debris from our marine ecosystems.  The app is available for Iphones and Androids, is user -friendly and incredibly intuitive, and will provide actual maps of areas you have collected litter. EarthTeam urges everyone to do their part to protect our Bay and oceans! Download the app now,  get out there and make a difference!!

Earth Team vs. Invasive Species

Earth Team intern, Brenda Moreida, removing the invasive plant species Cape Ivy.

Himalayan Blackberry, Cape Ivy, and English Ivy have proven to be tough contenders against Pinole Valley High interns. These three plant species are non-native and completely dominate areas of Pinole Creek banks. Native plants that help the ecosystem thrive are lacking in resources and space, due to these highly invasive non-native plants outcompeting them. Earth Team interns decided to take a stand against these invaders and remove as much as they could during their 2 hour weekly meeting.

The task seemed daunting but interns worked tirelessly and cleared roughly 340 sq. ft. of creek bank. The area that has been cleared will provide the space for native plants to reestablish themselves. Interns enjoyed the work, and proved to themselves that they could take on even the toughest non-natives. Himalayan Blackberry is covered by very sharp thorns, although with appropriate safety methods and tools, interns removed these tough plants without a scratch. Pinole Valley High interns will continue to remove litter and invasive species as well as test the water quality in order to help keep their local creek and watershed healthy and happy!

Earth Team interns and Campus Coordinator, Julia Dorosh, removing the invasive plants from the site.
Pinole Valley High EarthTeam after clearing 340 sq. ft. of space. 

Pinole Creek Water Quality Monitoring

Intern, Emily Banuelos, using a WQ probe to test Pinole Creek.

PVHS Earth Team interns have began water quality (WQ) monitoring of Pinole Creek! The site selected for bi-weekly WQ tests is directly behind the Pinole Library, and less than a mile upstream from the newly completed Fish Passage. The passage was implemented in order for endangered fish_steelheadtrout.jpgSteelhead, to effectively travel across the stretch of Pinole Creek below the I-80 Highway. These incredible species travel upstream from the Bay, to spawning grounds in fresh water. Earth Team’s WQ monitoring will allow interns to determine if the Creek is at a healthy level to sustain a population of steelhead to spawn, and if the any changes occur to the WQ after the installation of the fish passage.

Interns have also spent the last two weeks learning about the native riparian flora that surrounds Pinole Creek. Each team member was given a native, non-native, and/or invasive plant to research, accurately identify in the field, and present to the team. Interns were also ask to get a rough species count of their selected plant, during a Plant Walk. This activity allowed students to visually see how invasive plants can out compete native plants, and overrun entire areas.

Interns wading through Pinole Creek to collect and remove litter.

In addition, PVHS Earth Team performed a Litter Assessment at Pinole Creek. Over 500 pieces of trash were collected, and the data with geo locations, was entered into the the EarthTeam Zero Litter App. Interns also waded through the creek to collect litter and enter data.

PVHS Earth Team interns are learning the importance of their local creek, the habitat it provides to unique endangered species, and the work that it takes to keep litter from polluting its shores. Interns have been challenged to step outside their comfort zone, and help the local environment in ways they have never done before.