Dear Friends and Supporters,
I hope this finds you healthy and well.
A gradual evolution at EDI has been developing over the past several months, and I am so excited to share with you all that we have accomplished. In the last six months, we produced our first ever written annual report, completed our first financial review (with flying colors), hosted our first annual fundraising event, welcomed four new members to join our board of directors, and meaningfully expanded programming in both our education and conservation departments.
We all know that this pandemic has caused many to reflect on what is most important, and pushed us to create change in our lives. We are so proud of our long-time education director, Vicky Bonnett, for taking the final steps to complete her graduate education in June and subsequently accept a classroom teaching position. Our interim conservation director, Christine Beck, made the move to officially retire in September in order to enjoy more quality time with her family – after dedicating decades of her life to protecting and conserving San Diego’s native biodiversity, no one deserves the rest more! I am filled with gratitude for all that Vicky and Christine contributed to EDI, including the opportunities they afforded their predecessors to build on their respective legacies. As a result, I am delighted to share that we have welcomed two extraordinary new members to our team. Please read on to learn more about EDI’s new education director, Simon Breen, and our new conservation director, Ida Kaller-Vincent.
EDI is maturing as an organization and growing fast, and it is a very exciting time. Thank you all for being part of this journey. The future is bright indeed!
Family Day - July 2nd
Selfie from family day! Photo credit: Colin Richard
On Saturday, July 2nd, EDI hosted a Family Day at Crestridge Ecological Reserve. Participants hiked, played educational games, learned about habitat restoration, and saw all sorts of creatures, including birds, lizards, rabbits, coyotes, and even horses! Thanks to our partners at SDG&E, we were able to supply a free backpack to each family. We filled them with reusable water bottles and other items for the whole family to enjoy. Between EDI staff and volunteers, and the wonderful families who participated, Family Day was such a success and so much fun. Thank you to SDG&E for giving us the ability to provide such incredible opportunities like this one!
Camp Cajon - July 18th & 22nd
EDI's Education Director, Simon Breen, posing with Lexington Elementary students. Photo credit: Simon Breen
In July, we hosted two activity days at Lexington Elementary as part of Camp Cajon. 8 students participated the first day, and 9 students the second. Students picked up litter around their school campus, created habitat dioramas, and received environmental lessons on watershed, animal skulls, and tracks/scat. On the second day of Camp Cajon, Mrs. Hoy said we were the best guests her classroom had all summer!
Lexington Elementary student posing with his habitat diorama! Photo credit: Simon Breen
Hikers following along the storybook hike at Crestridge Ecological Reserve. Photo credit: Simon Breen
On August 10th, we installed our latest Storybook Hike story, Frog and Toad Together, at Crestridge Ecological Reserve. It is currently on display in both English and Spanish, and will be up until the end of the year. Frog and Toad was selected as a co-promotion partnership with the Patio Playhouse Theater, who presented a musical production of Frog and Toad this summer. KPBS did a feature on this hike and the musical: click here to read the article.
If you're feeling froggy, hop on over and read about the adventures and misadventures of two affable amphibian friends!
Auction tables for our first in-person fundraising event at Crestridge Ecological Reserve. Photo credit: Tim Stahl
On August 27th, we hosted our very first in-person fundraising event. Thanks to the amazing attendees and those who donated items to our silent auction, we raised funds to contribute to our environmental education and conservation programs. We were surrounded by great company, and told our auction item selection was stellar! We were so fortunate to have local artists and businesses donate to our auction. Attendees left with a wide variety of goodies, including handmade cutting boards, glass items, and jewelry, plus high quality nature photos, book bundles, professional chef services, tee-time at Mission Trails golf course, and tickets to places around San Diego. We cannot wait for next year's fundraiser!
Exploring the Coast with EDI
Fall is here, kids are back in school, and for students from several East County schools, this will be an especially memorable school year! Fourth graders from Title I schools will be exploring the Sweetwater Marsh at the San Diego Bay National Wildlife Refuge, thanks to grant funding from the California State Coastal Conservancy! But the students aren't the only ones who will be getting to explore the shore. After the school field trips, we'll be inviting students back again—this time with their grown-ups—for recreational activities like coastal bird watching and sea kayaking as part of a family weekend event. Coasts will be explored, lessons will be learned, and fun will be had! These trips are just one example of the many exciting nature-based opportunities we have planned for the rest of this school year. We can't wait to share what we've been up to!
Volunteer Event - This Saturday!
Habitat restoration at El Monte continues! Join us this Saturday, November 19th, from 8:00 AM until 11:30 AM, as we install coastal sage scrub container plants, water, and weed our 15-acre cactus scrub restoration site. All ages are welcome and encouraged to attend. Please be sure to wear closed-toe shoes, bring a water and snacks, and wear a hat, gloves, and sunscreen!
13950 El Monte Rd.,
Lakeside, CA 92040
8:00 AM - 11:30 AM
For inquiries: email@example.com
#GivingTuesday - November 29th
We are so excited to be participating in Giving Tuesday 2022!
The movement for Giving Tuesday revolves around "a world built upon shared humanity and radical generosity". When you give, know you are making a BIG impact in our community because your donation stays local, allowing us the opportunity to continue our environmental education and conservation programs in San Diego's east county.
Those who start or renew their EDI memberships on #GivingTuesday will be given a free EDI mug!
Welcome Simon Breen, EDI's newest Education Director!
Simon Breen (he/him/his) has worked to provide transformative, equitable access to outdoor education and recreation in San Diego County since 2014. He's an advocate of thinking globally and acting locally, and fostering environmental stewardship via experiences that build a lifelong connection to nature. Simon holds dual masters’ degrees in Conservation Science from Cornell, and Primate Conservation from Oxford Brookes University. He served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Nicaragua, where he promoted environmental education, agricultural extension, and community outreach. In 2021, Simon received the Olivenhain Municipal Water District’s “Educator of the Year” award. When he's not bringing people to nature with EDI, he enjoys adventuring outdoors in his free time with his wife and their shaggy rapscallion of a dog, Maui.
Meet Ida Kaller-Vincent, EDI's newest Conservation Director!
Ida has over 17 years of experience as a marine and wildlife biologist. She has worked in not-for-profit, government, academia, and consulting roles in various countries. She has led conservation research expeditions worldwide, training citizen scientists in field research and wildlife conservation, and managed wildlife conservation projects in a variety of ecosystems and across a large range of species. Ida holds a B.S. with honors in Marine Biology and Zoology from the University of Queensland, Australia, and a Master’s Degree in Environmental Science from Murdoch University, Australia. She is passionate about nature conservation and a strong believer that through citizen science and community involvement, we can foster environmental stewards and help protect threatened species and our local ecosystems here in San Diego County. She is also an avid mountaineer and is a published author of a novel and children’s book, and she has produced and directed two documentary films featured at various film festivals.
Ready to infuse the new school year with educational fun, EDI has assembled a dynamic team of outdoor educators—with some familiar faces as well as new ones. Returning EDI Field Instructors, Seekey Cacciatore, Maggie Holloway, Krystal Despopoulos, and Stacey Vielma will be joined by some new faces. Among them, there's Ashley Ersepke: a naturalist from The Nat and a highly gifted science illustrator; and Dana Alagha, a passionate educator whose fluency in Arabic will help us better engage Arabic speakers on field trips and family events. In a new role as EDI's Education Coordinator, Grace Schmalz will be assisting with education, outreach, and more. The team is led by EDI's new Education Director, Simon Breen, who will be carrying on the work of former Education Director, Vicky Bonnett.
Visit our Staff Page to learn more about our team, old and new!
Photo credit: Tim Stahl
Vicky Bonnett (left) accepting EDI's Outstanding Lifetime Achievement award from board president, Michael Beck (right) at our annual fundraising event in August. Vicky's contributions to EDI truly have been outstanding, and it is largely upon her shoulders that all of us at EDI now stand. Thank you for everything, Vicky!
Photo credit: Tim Stahl
Former conservation director, Christine Beck pictured (right) with long-time "Tuesday volunteer," Lorenzo Higley (left). Christine coupled her deep knowledge of San Diego's native flora and fauna with that of the regulatory framework in place to protect it, to help EDI build a conservation department from the ground up. Our first major habitat restoration project is still going strong at El Monte Preserve, in Lakeside. Christine, we are forever in your debt- thank you!