04 Nov Lucy’s Introductory Blog
Hello to whoever is reading this and welcome to my intro blog!
My name is Lucy Malamud-Roam. I’m so excited to be joining the EFTA team this year as a Habitat Restoration intern in the beautiful Golden Gate National Recreation Area! I’m not even a full week into the internship at this point, but already it has surpassed all my expectations (which I didn’t think was possible because they were very high to begin with!!). I feel so unbelievably lucky to be working in such a stunning place, to be engaged in work I feel truly passionate about, and to be surrounded by such kind, supportive, and brilliant people.
I was born and raised in the El Cerrito, CA. If you are not familiar with the Bay Area (or honestly even if you are, because El Cerrito can often slip through the cracks of public attention!) El Cerrito is a small suburban city next door to Berkeley (that’s where that fancy school is with the bear mascot!):
Growing up my family took me to San Francisco and its surrounding parklands fairly often. Despite their familiarity, these beautiful landscapes have never failed to take my breath away. When I picture them now, I see seafoam sparkling in the sunshine, rolling green hills speckled with wildflowers, white egrets standing in blue marshes, the Golden Gate bridge emerging from a bed of fog. These spaces, from the mouth of Bodega Bay to the flanks of the Santa Cruz mountains, have inspired endless joy in me and have shaped who I am today.
I was very little when I fell in love with the natural world. Like most kids I was enchanted by bird songs and butterflies and sweet-smelling flowers, and I soon learned the names of every one in my mom’s garden. When I was eight I went on a school trip to Point Bonita. This is my earliest memory of going to the Marin Headlands, and I remember it feeling other-wordly. My mom’s teeny tiny garden still enchanted me, and here I was suddenly surrounded by ocean and cliffs and meadows, birds I didn’t even know existed and entire hillsides covered in wildflowers. It was unbelievable! That trip solidified in me that I wanted to spend as much of my life as possible outside. When I was thirteen I took up running, which opened up a world of independent exploration. I explored and fell in love with the Berkeley Hills and East Bay Regional Parks, and started educating myself on the natural history and ecology of my surroundings. By the end of high school I was faced with a daunting prospect: moving away from my beloved hometown for college. For a nature nerd like myself, this not only meant leaving the comfort of my family home, but also the landscape, plants, and animal life that I felt so deeply connected to. I would be attending the University of California, Santa Cruz in the fall of 2018, and, despite this being a mere ONE HOUR from El Cerrito, it was a move I spent months agonizing over. However, when that time came and I did step foot into my new home, I was met with more kindness and warmth than I could ever have hoped for. Within the first twenty-four hours of my arrival I had met the friends with-whom I would be inseparable to this day, shook hands with professors I would go on to work for, and wandered through the forests and beaches that I would study, run, and find peace in for the next four years. I cannot possibly put my time in university into words, nor communicate how endlessly grateful am I to have had it. I would not have changed a thing.
A couple of highlights of my time at UC Santa Cruz, without-which I never would have ended up as an EFTA Habitat Restoration intern include: (1) my time at the Younger Lagoon Reserve, and (2) my time on university field study programs.
I was hired at Younger Lagoon Reserve, a natural reserve near my university, first as a habitat restoration intern in 2019 and then as a Natural Reserves Field Assistant later that year. For three years I helped restore 40 acres of former agricultural land (which had been made barren by heavy pesticide use and neglect) to a native grassland. This job was my first introduction to habitat restoration, and it was incredibly rewarding. Over the years I watched seeds I had collected by hand germinate in greenhouses, and grow big and strong in soils I had tilled, eventually supporting plant and animal communities that hadn’t inhabited the area in decades. I fell in love with land stewardship through this job, with healing the Earth, with the notion that humans do not have to serve as agents of destruction against the natural world, but can instead heal, support, and restore it.
Finally, I doubt I would have felt empowered or confident enough in my abilities as an ecologist to apply for EFTA had I not been a participant on my university’s field study programs. In 2021 I spent seven weeks camping in several of California’s deserts through a field studies program called the California Ecology and Conservation field quarter. Through this program I got to design, carry out, present, and publish my own original ecological research alongside a cohort of incredibly inspirational young scientists. In 2022 I was a student on my university’s Natural History Field Quarter, and learned about the flora, fauna, and history of land stewardship that has shaped California. For this quarter I camped with a cohort of thirty undergraduates who are to this day my dearest friends in natural reserves all over the state. The more I learned about the natural history of this beautiful land, including its human history (with an emphasis on Indigenous stewardship and the impacts of European colonization), the more I wanted to learn, to care for and tend this land, and to share my knowledge with the rest of the world.
Thank you so much for reading this introductory blog post! I look forward to sharing more over the course of the next twelve months (all of-which I am sure will be as dreamy as the first).