July 9, 2011
By Alexandria Cheung and Sabrina Lawrence-Gomez
After a wonderful breakfast cooked by Dan, our resident breakfast chef extraordinaire, Alex and I hiked over to the Wrigley campus for Associates’ Day, a day for donors to explore the amenities and projects going on! When we arrived, the day had already started with arts and crafts for the youngsters and events at the waterfront and marine lab. Alex and I were recruited to lead two nature hikes along the south facing slope of the campus up to the bluffs with Ellen Kelly, Wrigley’s Naturalist.
Before we set off, we handed them these really advanced headsets. They look like pre-recorded audio guides that you would get at a museum, but they actually tune in to a microphone so the crowd can listen to Ellen’s guide on real time. We thought this was a brilliant idea. It was also extremely useful because the trail is very narrow, and everyone has to hike in a single file line.
Ellen began the hike near the sycamore trees, and she introduced us to the the crowd. We started talking about our trail and our work here this summer, educating the hikers about invasive fennel . Then we hiked up the narrow path. Alex and I were stationed at different spots of the line, in the middle and at the end, to answer any questions. We also pointed out interesting geological features and plant species.
The crowd was extremely receptive and asked wonderful questions. Sabrina and I were happy to get to know them , especially since most of them were affiliated with USC, like professors, or had generations of family members that attended USC. Towards the end of the hike, Ellen did a demonstration on ocean waves for some of the kids in the group. We stood in a line and held hands, starting an oscillation at one end by lifting our arms, then transferred it back to the other side creating a wave. The little hikers really enjoyed it.
When it was our turn to lead the hike, Sabrina and I were super nervous, but we overcame our fears. We passed out the headsets and Sabrina led the hike above, while I lead it from behind. The experience was very nerve-wracking as we wondered what to talk about and what to point out. It became more natural as we showed plants that we knew and understood and told stories about our island experiences. It was nice to share all of the knowledge that had been imparted to us from Ellen and Charlie, and teach it to someone new. Sabrina did a wonderful job leading on top. All in all, it was a great learning experience.
After the hike, we had a delicious meal with the USC Associates. Associates Day is a great program and I am glad we could be a part of it.