In the latest part of KPCC's "Season's Givings" series, Adolfo Guzman-Lopez visits the El Dorado Nature Center where volunteers help teach about plants and animals.
Adolfo Guzman-Lopez: I'm Adolfo Guzman-Lopez with Season's Givings. There's an oasis tucked between a wide concrete freeway and large housing tracts in Long Beach.
Susan Ettinger: My name is Susan Ettinger, and this is El Dorado Nature Center, and I'm the volunteer coordinator.
Guzman-Lopez: Ettinger earned a living in the corporate world of downtown L.A., until she realized she could combine work with one of her passions.
Ettinger: Here at the nature center specifically we mostly get people who have a concern for, a love for, and a desire to contribute to the health of the Earth.
Guzman-Lopez: There's not enough staff to oversee all the ponds, trails, and paved walkways, so the center needs volunteers year-round.
Ettinger: This is the beginning of our one- and two-mile trail head.
Guzman-Lopez: Some volunteers teach visitors about the plant and animal life. Others monitor the trails.
Ettinger: If you were a trail steward you'd be walking through here to make sure folks are following the rules, to make sure there's nothing obstructing the trail, maybe picking up trash. Just basically being the eyes and ears of the nature center while out on the trail.
Guzman-Lopez: Rabbits, snakes, hawks, migrating butterflies, and passing coyotes all use the nature center, too. They mostly stay away from humans, but sometimes they'll leave reminders of their presence.
Ettinger: Don't step on that.
Guzman-Lopez: Uh oh, what do we have here?
Ettinger: This is animal scat. As you notice, it's right in the middle of the trail, which means that somebody wanted to mark its territory. I don't know that I can automatically tell you, it looks like it might be coyote scat. I'm not sure, but as you notice there are berries in it. He's been feasting at the nature center because you don't get those berries everywhere.
Guzman-Lopez: Volunteers pick up animal poop.
Ettinger: No. They don't do anything with it because it's part of nature.
Guzman-Lopez: A volunteer recently told Susan Ettinger the word that best sums up the El Dorado Nature Center is "rejuvenation." Volunteers witness how the seasons rejuvenate the plant and animal life. And that energy rejuvenates the soul. To find out more about volunteering at the El Dorado Nature Center, go to LongBeach.gov – and click on the city directory for "Parks."