By Melvin Harris III, Baldwin Hills Greenhouse Intern, and Stacey Vigallon, Director of Interpretation

melvin CSU application WEB

Greenhouse Intern Melvin Harris completes his California State University application during the Greenhouse Program’s CSU Application Day event in October 2013.

The Baldwin Hills Greenhouse Program is always looking to accept students with a wide range of interests in addition to science. Melvin Harris III is just such a student, and we’re extremely glad that he decided to apply to be a Greenhouse Intern for this school year. A senior at Dorsey High School, Melvin has strong interests in music, film, vegan cooking, and wildlife science. His internship project addresses how the western fence lizard uses habitat at the Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook. He is currently awaiting college acceptance letters and hopes to attend a university set amidst the redwoods. Below, he discusses how he became involved in the Greenhouse Program…

I did not know what this “Baldwin Hills Greenhouse Program” was, but when a member of the program came to
my AP Biology class last year and talked about this cool poster he made about his research topic and his involvement, I was immediately interested in the program. Since being in the program, I have built a stronger interest in the science of the environment and nature. In an urban area like Baldwin Hills, many people do not know of the ways they can help not just their neighborhood but the environment. As a program, we help restore small habitats around in Los Angeles, learned the history of Los Angeles and the remaining nature in it, and we help kids from Politi Elementary School learn about the environment - including plants and animals. Politi Elementary School is full of kids who are interested, like I am, in learning about the environment. We have learned together about different bird species living in and around Los Angeles, like the Least Tern and Snowy Plover.

melvin sound recording Web

Greenhouse Intern Melvin Harris records audio interviews with elementary school students for a film project during a Snowy Plover field trip to Dockweiler beach.

Along with playing guitar and taking environmental science, the Greenhouse Program is where I have discovered how working hard truly pays off. There are two parts of the Baldwin Hills Greenhouse Program: being a Restoration Leader and being an Intern. Being an intern is a little harder because of the required reading, research, and labor while holding the internship. Last year my Environmental Stewardship teacher, Mr. Jeffers, offered a volunteer opportunity to go to Venice Beach and work at the Least Tern colony to help take out this plant called “sea rocket” that was destroying their habitat. After that experience, I wanted to apply for the internship with the Baldwin Hills Greenhouse Program. I applied for the internship near the end of my junior year and filled out an application. Later, me and many others were then interviewed by Mr. Jeffers and Stacey Vigallon, the manager of the Greenhouse Program. I went to do the interview with confidence and the hope that I’d get the internship position rather than the restoration leader position. When I found out that I got the Internship I was excited and felt that I was going to get the closer experience with the Greenhouse Program that I really wanted.

In college, I don’t know what I want to major in, but I’m very interested in a science path towards something like game design and/or wildlife sciences. I want to open up my options and not just do one thing. I really want to take advantage of what is out there as a career besides just playing music or just science.

melvin harris notebook web

Greenhouse Intern Melvin Harris’s notebook and field guide that he uses for his research project at the Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook.

Originally published Western Tanager Vol. 80 No. 3 January/February 2014