January 2024


Installation is in full swing for our Monarch Butterfly Garden project in partnership with Monarch Joint Venture! It has been incredible witnessing the amount of passion those of your have for supporting the Monarch butterfly population, and a blast getting to know our program participants. We look forward to monitoring these gardens through June 2024 and are excited for future projects like this one!

For those of you we weren’t able to help directly (although we wish we could!), we have implemented ‘Tips of the Week’ for cultivating your very own Monarch butterfly garden, created by Lyla, EDI’s Conservation Technician. Lyla has also drafted up some sample garden plots to use as a reference for building your own garden. All of this can be found on our Monarch Butterfly Gardens page.


Our first Tuesday volunteer event of 2024 was just what we needed to start the year! With ten of our enthusiastic Tuesday volunteer heroes, we pulled invasive mustard within the San Diego National Wildlife Refuge and are excited for what this year may bring for our continued effort of protecting and restoring San Diego’s wild spaces!

If your new years resolution is to volunteer more within our local communities, we'd love for you to join us! To become a volunteer hero, visit our Volunteer page and let us know if you're interested in single, weekly, monthly, or field trip volunteer opportunities.


During the middle of the month, EDI members joined us for a beautiful morning of migratory bird watching by the bay! We enjoyed the sunny morning together and spotted 16 species of birds - 6 of which were winter visitors. We could watch birds all day and feel lucky to be able to do so with great company!


We have had a fabulous time taking 4th graders out to the San Diego Bay National Wildlife Refuge at the Sweetwater Marsh. Students built on the lessons they learned with us in the fall at Crestridge Ecological Reserve by exploring the salt marsh habitat, testing water quality, learning about bird adaptations, participating in coastal sage scrub habitat restoration, and creating scientific illustrations. A highlight of these trips has been students practicing using binoculars to observe the wide variety of species that live around the refuge! We’ve seen egrets stalking through the marsh, curlews and sandpipers probing the mudflats for worms, cottontail rabbits scurrying through the brush, ospreys diving into the water to catch a fish, and turkey vultures soaring across the fields. Here are a few rave reviews we overheard from students on field trips this month:

"This is the best day of my life. This is like a dream!"

"I love the egrets, they are so beautiful."

"I've never experienced a taste sensation like this pickleweed before!"

"I'd have to say EVERYTHING was my favorite part of the day!"


Thank you so much to the fantastic group of volunteers who joined us on McGinty Mountain within the San Diego National Wildlife Refuge! While working together to restore native sage scrub habitat, we discovered that the 20 of us represented 8 different countries and 5 continents! We had a great time making new friends while restoring our wild spaces, and are so appreciative of their hard work.


We are absolutely thrilled to announce our bat hotel is now installed at El Monte Ecological Preserve! This structure will provide important roosting habitat to several bat species. We were so excited to show off the newly installed hotel to the public today during our Bats & Birds event, where attendees learned about the bats and birds that visit or inhabit El Monte. Join us for a future event at El Monte Preserve for your chance to see the bat hotel in person!


“We're pleased as pollinators in a superbloom to announce that Ashley Ersepke, our Education Coordinator, is now full-time! Ashley first began as a Field Instructor with us in 2022, and after excelling in that role, she was promoted to Education Coordinator in a part-time capacity last year. Ashley's too humble to toot her own horn, so we'll toot it for her. She brings unique and impressive skills to EDI. As an educator, she strives to make connections with her audience and provide high-caliber experiences, whether it’s with elementary students or multigenerational community members. As a coordinator, she’s remarkably well-organized, and a logistical wizard. And she's also an exceptionally gifted science illustrator. We're so lucky to have her on team EDI! You can catch Ashley in her natural habitat at the upcoming members-only nature landscape painting workshop on February 17th.” - Simon Breen, Education Director

“We are excited to share that our exceptional Conservation Technician, Lyla Schoenig, transitioned to a full-time role at the beginning of December. Lyla brings extensive expertise in native plant biology and conservation, making her an invaluable team member. Her passion for the environment is evident, and we are truly fortunate to have her on our team. During her initial months as a full-time team member, Lyla has taken the lead in our Monarch Gardens Project. She is responsible for installing monarch butterfly gardens in people’s yards and creating engaging content and weekly tips for those who are interested in establishing their own monarch-friendly gardens. Her passion and expertise have positively impacted our team and left a lasting impression on the communities we serve. We thank Lyla for her dedication and look forward to continued success with her on our team!” - Ida Kaller-Vincent, Conservation Director