By Stacey Vigallon, Director of Interpretation, and the Baldwin Hills Greenhouse Interns

Interns set up an experiment on the greenhouse hillside to test transplant survival of milkweed species.

Interns set up an experiment on the greenhouse hillside to test transplant survival of milkweed species.

In May 2017 students participating in the Baldwin Hills Greenhouse Internship Program presented their research to the public at a symposium hosted at Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook State Park. Projects from last school year examined the effectiveness of high school students as environmental educators, irrigation system engineering, native species transplant survival, and more. Interns devote many hours to their projects over the course of the school year, and they have to first write a project proposal that includes relevant background literature, hypotheses, and a project budget. The information obtained through student research projects is available to California State Parks and the Baldwin Hills Conservancy staff, is used to inform habitat restoration at the Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook, and serves as a foundation upon which new interns can build new projects. Below we are pleased to present the 2016-2017 Greenhouse Intern project abstracts.

Emely Perez

Transplant survival of milkweed in gallon pots vs. 2-inch pots at Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook

Monarchs are important pollinators essential to nature, and they can’t survive without milkweed (Monarch Joint Venture A, Sandoval 2015). We need pollinators for life to function properly (Black, Shepard and Allen 2001). To prevent further pollinator extinction we need habitat conservation and restoration. Transplant survival is essential to figuring out the survival rate of plants. I transplanted milkweed plants that had been in 2-inch pots and 1-gallon pots to the hillside and germinated Asclepias fasicularis and Asclepius eriocarpa seedlings in the spring and another batch in the fall to test how they germinate according to season. I hypothesized that the milkweed that had been in the 1-gallon pots would have a higher transplant survival rate than the in the 2-inch pots. I also hypothesized that the batch germinated in the spring would have a higher germination rate than the ones in the fall. Milkweed in the 1-gallon pots had a _ transplant survival rate of 70%, but the milkweed in the 2-inch pots had a low 5% transplant survival rate (see graph 1). The milkweed seeded in the spring had a higher germination rate than the ones germinated in the fall.
Emely Perez currently attends Cal Poly Pomona.

Intern Diana holds up food products created from native plants found in Baldwin Hills parkland.

Intern Diana holds up food products created from native plants found in Baldwin Hills parkland.

Diana Leal

Food, Students, and Urban Nature

Food, community, and nature are three things that are greatly impactful to everyone. The goal of my project was to help people make better and more educated decisions about their food because as humans we have a big impact on the natural world (Vitousek 1997). Our world helps us build connections, communities, houses, and grows our food (Vitousek 1997). I conducted a guided walk where I informed the Greenhouse Program students about edible plants around the park. My hypothesis that there would be an increase in knowledge among students in the Greenhouse Program after they participated in my lesson was supported by data: 100% of survey participants (n=26) reported that they felt they gained knowledge about plants in the park. Out of the 26 participants in the lesson plan, 22 tried an edible plant that I presented (85%). Over 85% of participants expressed an interest in possibly growing some of their own food or helping out in a garden. Next year I plan to further explore cultural and family eating patterns of students in the Greenhouse Program to better understand how these patterns relate to students’ connection to nature. 
Diana Leal currently attends West Los Angeles College and is part of the bakery staff at the world-renowned Mozza Restaurant Group.

Hilary Alas

Fiber Arts and Urban Nature

I used three different plant groups (native, non-native, and food plants) to create dyes for wool yarn using the solarization method. I hypothesized that all six plants used would adhere to the wool fiber, which was proven correct. These dyes are sustainable, eco-friendly, and fairly easy to make, though they are very limited in color range. In addition to the dye aspects of my project, I also learned traditional handcraft skills related to fiber: knitting and spinning. These activities gave me greater appreciation towards my clothes because I was able to form a personal connection to the materials and tools that went into creating the garment. It also pushed me to think about sustainability and being more aware of the items I buy. In our current day it’s extremely important to be informed about where our clothes come from and what impact it has on the environment. I recommend that the Greenhouse Program provide future students with the opportunity to learn these skills.
Hilary Alas currently attends UC Santa Barbara.

Intern Gerson measures a plant in one of his irrigation treatments at Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook.

Intern Gerson measures a plant in one of his irrigation treatments at Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook.

Gerson Rivas

Irrigation Set-up and Consistency in Data Collection

The Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook (BHSO) is home to a variety of California native plants, which do not receive water for very long periods of time due to Southern California’s low rainfall. Unlike agricultural and residential plantings, established native plants do not need to be irrigated during periods of no rain because these plants are well adapted into the environment. However, the lack of rainfall makes irrigation systems an essential tactic for habitat restoration sites because native plants still need water to become established. In my project I attempted to compare the growth rate and survival of plants using drip, ring, and hand water irrigation methods. Unfortunately, I was not able to test my hypotheses due to more-than-average rainfall during the winter 2016 and spring 2017. We did learn that with measuring tape, instructions, and the appropriate materials, high school students with very basic technical knowledge could set up working irrigation systems with minimal adult support.
Gerson Rivas currently attends West Los Angeles College.

Germination of native plant species has always been an important aspect of the Greenhouse Program. Intern Martin examined seedling survival in two different soil types.

Germination of native plant species has always been an important aspect of the Greenhouse Program. Intern Martin examined seedling survival in two different soil types.

Martin Recendez

Transplant Survival of Three Native Plant Species in Two Soil Types

The Baldwin Hills consist of a series of north-south trending hills; it’s the biggest remaining expanse of space in the LA Basin (Molina, 2001). I studied transplant survival in the greenhouse of three native species in the Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook: Black Sage (Salvia mellifera), California Bush Sunflower (Encelia californica), and California Buckwheat (Eriogonum fasciculatum). I hypothesized that seedlings transplanted into native hillside soil would have a better survival rate than those in potting soil, and that transplant survival rate might not be the same for all species. I distributed them into plots of soil; when they became seedlings, I transplanted them into pots that either contained hillside or potting soil. Height then was measured in centimeters. I recorded measurements and survival rates of each species. California Buckwheat and Black Sage had better survival rates in hillside soil. California Bush Sunflower, however, had a higher survival rate in potting soil. The average height of the native plant species in hillside soil was larger than in potting soil. Through my research, visitors will understand that the species need their own type of soil. My project is important because it informs others about the native species of Baldwin Hills.
Martin Recendez currently attends UCLA.

Behtsabe Lopez

Effectiveness of Baldwin Hills Greenhouse Program Teenagers as Environmental Educators

Nature can reduce stress levels in teenagers, and allowing teenagers to become environmental educators can keep them and younger children away from dangerous situations and can help teenagers develop public speaking skills, empathy towards teachers, and confidence towards teamwork. In this project I observed the relationship between teacher and student as well as student and nature. Two groups participated in this project: Esperanza Elementary students and the Baldwin Hills Green House Program (BHGP) teenagers. Elementary student participants took pre and post surveys for each training session. The BHGP teenager participants took pre and post surveys for each teaching session and an overall survey at the end of the project. All results were compared. The elementary school participants in the first session showed a great increase in knowledge and positive attitude towards nature, but in the second session there was a slight decrease in positive attitude towards nature. The BHGP teenager participants showed a percentage range of 90 to 100 percent of an increase in empathy for their teachers, confidence in public speaking, and confidence in teamwork. This study shows that teenagers and elementary students can benefit from cross-age teaching sessions that can help develop crucial lifetime skills for both ages.
Behtsabe Lopez currently attends El Camino College.

Sidonie Horn

California Scrub Jay and Eastern Fox Squirrel Presence within the Baldwin Hills Area

This study focuses on the relationship between California Scrub-Jays (Aphelocoma californica), Eastern Fox Squirrels (Sciurus niger), and Coast Live Oak (Quercus agrifolia) in the Baldwin Hills area within Los Angeles. These species were observed within neighboring parks: (1) the Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook (BHSO), a recovering natural habitat, and (2) Culver City Park (CCP), a manicured park designed for sports and recreation. To gain an understanding of jay and squirrel abundance and habitat use, surveys were conducted in both parks at sites with differing vegetative and human use characteristics September 2016 – February 2017. Jays were observed only within BHSO, at two of the four sites (Greenhouse and Parking Lot). Squirrels were observed in all three CCP sites and at the BHSO Greenhouse site. Similar to last year’s pilot study, jays were seen only in areas with established native vegetation. The Greenhouse site is located where the two parks meet, and both squirrels and jays were seen at this site. Based on these results, it appears that jays and squirrels use different habitat despite having similar diets. Jays are an essential part of the local ecology and as wild spaces in LA continue to shrink it is important to find a way to make urban parks attractive to the remaining native wildlife.
Sidonie Horn is currently a third-year Greenhouse Intern.

Magaly Lopez

Better Germination in California Black Walnut

I studied California black walnuts (Junglans californica), a native species of southern California, to learn under which conditions germination occurs best. Between fall 2014 and spring 2015, I observed germination between non-refrigerated and refrigerated walnuts collected in 2014. My data showed that refrigerated walnuts had greater germination than non-refrigerated walnuts. For fall 2015 to spring 2016, I compared germination of refrigerated and non-refrigerated walnuts collected in both 2014 and 2015. Data showed that overall refrigerated walnuts germinated at higher rates and walnuts that have been stored for over a year are still viable to plant. During fall 2016 and spring 2017, I compared the germination of refrigerated walnuts collected in 2014, 2015, and 2016. Although the sample size was small, more walnuts germinated in store-bought soil than hillside soil. The only walnuts that germinated in hillside soil were walnuts collected in 2016 and not any previous year. Based on three years of data, I recommend refrigerating seeds before planting, and germination may occur best in store-bought soil. Also, walnuts collected in previous years are still viable to plant, but I recommend planting walnuts collected during the same year or one year previous because they can yield better germination.
Magaly Lopez currently attends UC Santa Barbara.

Jose Rivera

Positive Effects of Nature and Meditation on Greenhouse Program Participants

People living in the urban environment suffer from chronic stress more so than people living in a non-urban environment (Wolf 2013). My project focused on nature and meditation as a way for people to manage stress within the Greenhouse Program, engaging 38 participants in two styles of meditation: coloring and sitting in nature. I hypothesized that on a week-to-week basis participants will report no difference in stress levels, which was proven to be incorrect. The majority of participants showed a decrease in reported stress level after taking part in either form of meditation. The percent of positive emotions listed increased after mediation and negative emotions decreased. My second hypothesis that participants will, upon reflection at the end of all mediation sessions, report that meditation helped them manage their stress, was supported by the data collected. Of the 24 people who completed post-assessment forms about their experience, 88% said that their meditation experience was positive or helpful in some way, and 87% said that they would consider meditating on their own in the future. I would recommend studying how meditation benefits elementary students and I would recommend meditation being used frequently in the Greenhouse Program.
Jose Rivera currently attends UC Merced.

Sindel Donaldson

Animation, Nature, and a Child’s Mind

Animated films are a huge part of children’s lives and have a heavy influence on the way children think and act. They give children ideas that tend to stay with them throughout their lives (Goldman 2012). These ideas include ones about how they should view nature and different demographics of people. My project compares the way that a sample of animated films from the United States (Disney) and Japan (Studio Ghibli) portray nature and different groups of people to children. When viewing the films, I concentrated on which animals were portrayed as good or bad, how animals and humans interacted, and the antagonist’s motivation. I also focused on the complexity of female characters, microagressions, and the diversity of the cast. Between December 2016 and February 2017 I studied the ten films and filled my data sheets. I found that the American films portrayed nature as something to be controlled by humans and women as simple-minded people who only care about love and excitement, while the Japanese films portrayed nature as something to fear and respect and women as complex people who must often make complex decisions and combat strong emotions.
Sindel Donaldson currently attends Amherst College.