Service I got to contribute to different parts

Service Learning has been an important
part in enriching students’ learning experience at Edmonds Community College.

From it, students get to contribute in building a strong community and gain
meaningful experiences that can be useful in the future. As a college student,
service learning is a good opportunity to increase general knowledge and
hands-on experiences. It is great program where students and the community can
benefit from each other. 

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Service-Learning Experience

This quarter, students of Neal Endacott’s
bioanthropology class were required to do 10 hours of service learning. I did
three service learnings for four hours each, and they have been an interesting
experience I have never done before in my life.

Water quality monitoring was the first
service learning I did. Kacie McCarthy lead the team to Mukilteo for us to
collect data on the water quality of the Japanese Gulch streams. Kacie taught
us a few plants and the history of Japanese Gulch on our way to the streams. We
learned some types of invasive and native plants, we saw some chopped trees
that the Japanese used to build boats, and we also got to taste edible plants
that taste like licorice. When we arrived at the stream, we collected data on
the presence of E. coli, test pH, alkalinity, turbidity, and hardness. E. coli
may indicate the presence of disease-carrying organisms, we test pH to measure
how acidic the water is, testing alkalinity would tell us the capability of
water to neutralize acid, testing turbidity would measure the cloudiness of a
fluid caused by large numbers of particles that are naked to human eyes, and
measuring hardness would tell the presence of common minerals in water. Kacie
brought so many equipment that I have never seen before. I got to contribute to
different parts of the test, and it has been a really informative experience.

The second service learning I did was
wildlife monitoring with Grace Coale. We went to the lower part of Japanese Gulch
in Mukilteo and not the Big Gulch because the weather was not very safe at that
time. During the service learning, we learned to set the monitoring cameras,
identify coyote and dog tracks along with their scats, and see the common areas
coyotes pass through. Grace told us a way to identify similar tracks, which is
by knowing the animal’s habit. We passed by a dog track, which looked like a
coyote track. The track was deep, and kind of wiped out. Grace explained that
coyotes like to safe energy, so their track would not be as deep and they
certainly won’t try to cover their tracks. After the service learning, we went
back to the college and see pictures of animals the camera had caught. Coyotes,
a chipmunk, squirrels, birds, raccoon, and an owl are the animals present in
the area we visited earlier.

The last service learning I did was the
Mukilteo salmon monitoring project. It was the first day the monitoring project
was conducted for this year, and I was the only one who signed up for it. Tom
Murphy and Grace Coale were the leaders of the group, and we all went to the
one of the gulch in Mukilteo. The thing that I liked from this service learning
is that I was the only volunteer, so I get to ask many questions and receive much
information from two experts. We were looking for salmons that were ready to
lay eggs, but unfortunately, we were too early for it. We did not see any big
salmons, but we found small fishes that may be identified as one. I also
learned many types of plants during the process, and it was fun to walk on the
streams. I learned to avoid soft parts of the streams because those are usually
where salmons spawn, and not to violently wave my stick when checking possible
salmon spawning areas to avoid the salmons of getting hurt. While walking on
the streams, Tom told me that there were still some artifacts of kitchen wares
that the Japanese used to have. I did not get to see it closely to avoid it
being disturbed, but I found it so interesting that I was in a ‘historical’
site.

Summary and Conclusions

The salmon monitoring service learning is
a very interesting experience for me. I got to learn various invasive plants,
identify usual spawning areas, the history behind the salmon spawning site, and
saw artifacts from what the Japanese left years ago. I learned that the
Japanese and Big Gulch was just restored, and it has been giving great benefits
for those living nearby, including the wildlife and fishes as well. People have
seen how important this restoration is for the future generations. Restoring
the gulches would provide an increased number of wildlife and habitat for many animals.

If many lands are constructed into houses or apartments, wild animals will lose
their homes. Without their homes, their numbers would decrease. People want to
enjoy wildlife, and we need them to maintain the ecological balance on this
earth. 

Anthropology is the study of various
aspects of the humankind in all times and places. I can relate the salmon
monitoring service learning to anthropology as an act of humans for
understanding the positive effects they can have by preserving wildlife. Their
act of restoring the spawning site would cause a positive impact for the
future. We can understand the important relationship between humans and the
existence of wildlife, along with their beliefs and perspectives on respecting
animals. In addition, knowing that there are some artifacts during my service
learning can be related to understanding past human cultures. People can
identify what kinds of kitchen utensils past generations use, what did
materials did they made them with, and more. This service learning has been a
great learning experience, and it helped me understand how important wildlife
and history is. 

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