30 Jun Never Stop Learning
Hello again everyone reading this, I’d like to reintroduce myself. My name is Ricardo Rodriguez and I am the Education and Outreach Intern at Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area. I am located in beautiful Newport, Oregon and I have been here at YHONA for the past 2 and ½ months working hard and learning more about what this land has to offer and what I can do to repay the land that we live on. My goal for the rest of my term is to educate as many people as I can about caring for the environment around us (wildlife, plants, culture, and history). I am continuously learning about the natural and cultural resources of Yaquina Head. I want to emphasize to everyone reading this, never stop learning, exclamation mark.
I have always loved talking to people and there’s always an opportunity to connect with visitors here at Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area. I appreciate every visitor’s curiosity, it often leads to meaningful conversation that sparked from a very interesting question that they presented to me. I spend a lot of time down at Cobble Beach in the tidepools interacting with visitors by discussing the rules of the tidepools, showing them the unique marine wildlife in the tidepools, and answering any questions they have. I don’t always know the answers to the questions that people ask me, but it gives me a chance to discuss what it is that I do know, and it also allows me and the visitor to think critically and try our best to solve that question. Just the other day, somebody at Cobble Beach pointed to the beds of California Mussels (Mytilus californianus) and asked me “What makes the mussels stick to each other?”. It shook me a little bit at first because I did not know what biological feature on the California Mussels made them stick to each other or the rocky surfaces in the intertidal zone. I always assumed that the mussels preferred to stay on the rocks because it was away from predators but I didn’t want to respond with that answer because I wasn’t sure if it was true or not and I don’t want to feed wrong information seeing that I represent the Bureau of Land Management and YHONA. So I told the visitor I wasn’t sure but I would do my best to find out and let him know afterwards. I then spoke with my coworker Andrew, who has been a ranger here at Yaquina Head for multiple seasons, and sure enough he told me the reason why California Mussels stick to the rocks and each other was because Mussels secrete protein fibers called byssal threads from a gland in the foot. The byssal threads are used to attach the animals to hard surfaces and even to each other. That absolutely amazed me and inspired me to want to learn more about the California Mussels because I knew so little about them even though I see them all the time given that they can be found all over Cobble Beach. This was a learning opportunity for me and it helps me remember to never stop learning.
Other than being at the tidepools all the time, I have also been working closely with my coworker Sabrina Gorney on preparing materials and talking points to represent Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area at this year’s Pollinators Day event at the Seashore Joy Garden in Waldport, OR. This event was an opportunity for community members to meet with multiple local, private, and government organizations to learn about Oregon’s pollinators and the work each agency is doing. The Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area Education team was invited to this event to discuss the pollinators that we see here at our park as well as discuss the current meadow restoration being done at Yaquina Head to create a habitat that can support the Oregon Silverspot Butterfly (Argynnis zerene hippolyta). Before this event I didn’t know much about pollinators or about the work being done at Yaquina Head. It gave me an opportunity to read more and learn more about different types of pollinators, the process of pollination, as well as learning about the efforts in restoring habitats around Oregon’s coast to bring back the Oregon SilverSpot Butterfly.
I am thoroughly enjoying my time here at Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area and I hope I can continue to work with YHONA in the future after my internship.