February Great Story by Jessica Cervantes, 2018-19 Greater Los Angeles Climate Fellow
For the past two months of December and January, my service project felt a bit slow as we worked to onboard project partners. But, February was different. It was super busy and productive. February 1st kicked off with welcoming two new staff members to the Climate Change and Sustainability Program (CCSP) at the LA County Department of Public Health. This was followed by the first full week of February where I engaged community members in West Athens through door to door outreach for my volunteer engagement project, ate yummy food at GLA/SD’s Regional Training potluck, and attended a welcome breakfast for CCSP’s new team members.
The following week, I participated in a “field trip” to TreePeople for the monthly County Tree Committee meeting where I learned about the TreePeople’s initiatives on stormwater capture. As soon as this meeting ended, I made my way to a meeting with the Toxicology and Environmental Assessment (TEA) team, where my site supervisor presented on climate change and what our program is doing. After the presentation, we all discussed the ways in which we could incorporate climate messaging into their program through our messaging climate change service project. The week ended with a next steps check-in call with our beneficiary contact in the PLACE Program. We were pleasantly surprised by the level of engagement and ideas on climate messaging discussed during the call by staff who don’t typically work on climate change. The conversations that took place during these two meetings gave me the motivation and guidance I needed to move forward with the project.
This week was followed by Mid-Year Gathering. It was a wonderful drive up Highway 1 where I got the see sea otters in the Morro Bay, elephant seals in San Simeon, and the beautiful coastline along Big Sur. The first full day of Mid-Year Gathering I had the opportunity to present on language justice with the rest of the Statewide Equity Team Leads. It was my first time presenting to a large group in over a year and it turned out to be a very rewarding experience. Overall Mid-Year Gathering, was a wonderful experience where I was not only able to practice my public speaking skills but I was also able to reconnect with friendships I began building with other fellows (outside of Greater Los Angeles) during orientation and gain the inspiration I needed to finish my service year strong.
After a full week out of the office, the last week of February became a week of catching up on emails and beginning projects discussed at meetings prior to Mid-Year Gathering. During this week, I developed a tree benefits flyer for my volunteer engagement project and my service project and also met with the fourth beneficiary of my service project, Environmental Health District Surveillance & Enforcement. The months to follow will be guided by the meetings, experiences, and inspirational moments that took place in February. February brought the guidance and inspiration I didn’t know I needed to complete my service project and end my service year successfully.