Exploring Land and Sea at the Lafayette Library

By Jack Gebhardt, News Copy Editor

   // Marine and terrestrial life have roamed our earth for billions of years and today students learn about the two different types of life through various forms of interactive learning.

   The Lafayette Library and Learning Center hosted an environmentally conscious event in partnership with The Marine Mammal Center and The Lindsay Wildlife Experience in the library’s Don Tatzin Community Hall on April 29.

   The Marine Mammal Center is a Bay Area-based first responder to injured marine life predominantly along the California coast. Although the center is locally based, its marine hospital in Sausalito California attracts international students and professionals from all around the globe.

   “The Marine Mammal Center is a hospital for marine mammals that are sick or injured. We cover a 600-mile range along the California coast from Mendocino to San Luis Obispo and we also have a hospital in Hawaii,” High School Program Manager of The Marine Mammal Center Joelle Saute said.

   The nonprofit organization primarily focuses on animal care and rescue, with hopes to release animal patients back to their ocean homes, providing a second chance at life.

   “Our mission is rescue, rehabilitation, research, release, and education. We mostly work with pinnipeds which are seals and sea lions but we also do work with cetaceans which are whales, dolphins, and porpoises,” Saute said.

   As part of their stewardship program, they host educational events on the last Saturday of each month, aiming to educate the next generations. They brought one of these events to Lafayette.

   “The focus for this month’s event was allowing people to learn more about The Marine Mammal Center and our collaborating group, Lindsay Wildlife Experience, [and we also] have different events to get high schoolers more excited about conservation work,” Saute said.

   Lindsay Wildlife is both a museum and experience located in Walnut Creek. They primarily take in sick and injured land animals, as well as some marine life.

   The two programs joined forces using their specific expertise to evaluate the similarities and differences between animals on land and sea.

   “We kind of wanted to… reach out to teenagers in the community to get them involved in the conservation side of things. They have a ton of knowledge about marine stuff… and we have a ton of terrestrial knowledge, [so] I thought it would be a great collaboration,” Youth Programs Coordinator at Lindsay Wildlife Experience, Kenneth Richey said. 

   Open to all interested high school students, the event featured a variety of booths, all with different engaging opportunities to learn.

   To finish off the day, the collaborating organizations conducted a simulation of a “town hall discussion” where students picked community roles and debated over the building of a dam in their local city. Through the experience, “community representatives” discussed the pros and cons of the hypothetical dam and the impacts it would have on marine and terrestrial life.

   “Our Town Hall [was a] super fun chance for people to actually like to engage with the conservation because as much as it’s good to be taught, it’s really fun and helpful to let people engage and actually interact with what they’re learning,” Richey said.

   Some students even used the event to explore their passions while determining their future paths.

   “I attended the event because, as a junior, I’m trying to find out what I want to do for a career. I have always really liked animals and might want to go into some profession that includes them. By going to this event, it [gave] me a chance to explore ways that I can try it,” junior Maya Bleich said.

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