Younger Lagoon Reserve: An outdoor classroom for coastal research

Younger Lagoon Reserve: An outdoor classroom for coastal research

October 13, 2019 1 By Stanley Isaacs


[ELIZABETH HOWARD] Younger Lagoon Reserve is a small urban reserve located on UC Santa Cruz’s Coastal Science Campus. It’s one of the
few protected coastal lagoons left in California. Due to our close proximity to
UC Santa Cruz’s main campus, dozens of students participate in research and
internships at the reserve every quarter. [SABRINA SHIRAZI] My research uses
environmental DNA to look at how invasive plants affect the biodiversity
of all other living things. We’re collecting soil samples here at Younger Lagoon to include in our
analysis. So far, we’re in the very beginning stages of learning more about environmental DNA. It’s pretty exciting being part of something that’s so new. [JUSTIN LUONG] At Younger Lagoon Reserve, where most of my research is taking place, we are utilizing these drought structures which
is part of a larger international drought experiment. [MICHAEL LOIK] Most people probably remember
California’s recent extreme drought. The work we’re doing here can help us better
understand the risk for extinction, how we might restore ecosystems, and how
vegetation growth might contribute to fire risk. [BIANCA N. DIAZ] Every year the Watch Monterey
Bay Aquarium program, students and staff, come to Younger Lagoon to explore and
learn from such a secluded place A big part of the program is figuring
out your testable question. One of my biggest roles is paying attention to
what sparks their interests and what makes them come alive when they’re
looking at all of the different things at Younger Lagoon. [KAREN HOLL] Students get really excited to be out here
to get out of the classroom. I’ve seen a lot of students
who are really quiet come out of their shell. And who have gotten jobs ultimately because
of the experience that they got here. The internships here
allow students to grow and enrich their experience over time, and then many of
them stay on to work and be mentors to other students.other students. [ELIZABETH DAVIS] I spent most of my
undergrad here learning a lot of native species, I’ve learned a lot about
restoration. I interned here for two quarters. I also got hired on to work for
Younger Lagoon. My goal, as I went from one experience to the next, was how can I build this
toolbox so I can go do things in the field that I want to do post
graduation. Working at Younger Lagoon has really helped me expand how I think about field research and
what really happens in the field. [KAREN HOLL] I can’t emphasize enough
how important Younger Lagoon and all the natural reserves are
as outdoor laboratories. For students to stay in STEM fields, that hands-on
experience is absolutely critical.