Spring 2022

Dear Friends and Supporters,

Happy Spring! I have found this is my favorite time of year in San Diego, when something is always in bloom, and species of every variety are being born, and hatched and fledged, to find their places on our shared planet. Monarch butterflies are reliable fixtures at EDI’s milkweed farm right now, bouncing around the blossoms and depositing their tiny, perfect pearls along the undersides of the leaves. I have easily counted a dozen caterpillars per day, at various stages of development, tucked between the plants. I have yet to catch a butterfly emerging from a chrysalis, but I hope one day to be so lucky!

For me, time spent in nature is always a balm to life’s difficulties. Its benefits to both our physical and psychological well-being are well documented. But in many of the communities EDI serves, people face invisible but powerful barriers to accessing nature, and sharing in its benefits. Through the great work of our partners at San Diego Foundation and their “Parks for Everyone” report, we know these include language and cultural barriers, as well as the challenge of transportation to natural areas. That is why I am so thrilled to share that EDI has been selected to receive $700,000 in funding from California State Parks, to create equitable access to nature for communities in El Cajon. Over the next four years, students and their families will be invited to join EDI for kayaking and surfing trips, whale watching excursions, hiking and fishing trips, as well as opportunities to connect with nature in their own neighborhoods.

This will be transformational for EDI, and we are so delighted by California State Parks' investment in this important program. We also remain grateful for the long-time, steadfast support of our community partners, including USFW Urban Refuges Program, SDG&E, San Diego Foundation, and Malk Foundation and you (!), for making this work possible. We look forward to sharing updates on this new program when it is launched in the fall.

Sarah Maisonneuve,
Executive Director


Please join EDI on an intermediate-to-advanced, after-work hike TOMORROW, June 3, 2022, from 5:00 PM to 7:30 PM! This hike will be about 4.5 miles roundtrip and is part of the 11,870-acre San Diego National Wildlife Refuge. It is considered moderately difficult, with a series of switchbacks up the west-facing slope. However, the view is amazing and worth the climb! Several rare endemic plants grow in this area on a relatively uncommon type of soil known as gabbro. We will look for these species as we meander up the trail.

Please wear closed-toed hiking/walking shoes and appropriate hiking attire. We recommend you bring the following items: hiking poles, water, and a snack.

Click Here to RSVP, or visit our Events Page!

MUST RSVP BY 6 PM TODAY (Thursday, June 2, 2022)


Hike to the Kiln by Christine Beck

Hikers approaching the kiln at Rancho Jamul Ecological Reserve. (Christine Beck)

On May 7th, EDI Biologist, Mary Duffy, led 10 hikers to the historic kiln at the Rancho Jamul Ecological Reserve. During this hike, we encountered 34 different bird species and a group of callippe fritillary butterflies. Mary showed us where the “caliche” was mined for the bricks fired at the kiln and gave an informative talk on the kiln’s operation, which lasted only two years.

Check out our Events Page regularly to stay in the loop for future hikes and events!

This specific hike is typically members-only. Become a member today to have increased access to hikes such as this one (which is closed off to the public)!

2022 City Nature Challenge by Christine Beck

Fish and Wildlife Service Intern, Jorge Ayon, setting up his insect attracting station. (Vicky Bonnett)

EDI partnered with San Diego National Wildlife Refuge staff to co-host an iNaturalist training in support of the 2022 City Nature Challenge, a 4-day, worldwide collaboration that encourages people to observe nature through photography. Our event focused on nighttime insects and couldn’t have happened without Jorge Ayon, Refuge Intern, and his special insect-attracting light. Participants got to see 20 different moth species, glowworm beetles, and many other cool insects!

Visit our Partners Page to browse the incredible organizations we work with.

Tiger moth. (Jorge Ayon)

Kiosk Dedication at SDNWR by Christine Beck

Dedication event attendees pose in front of kiosk. (Christine Beck)

EDI staff and our Tuesday Volunteers were honored at a dedication ceremony commemorating the recent opening of the San Diego National Wildlife Refuge parking lot off Millar Ranch Road and SR-94. Volunteer, Jeff Saar, had the honor of attaching the appreciation plaque to the visitor kiosk he built and installed. The kiosk welcomes and provides important information to new refuge users. In addition, both the Refuge and EDI staff, along with the help of our volunteers, installed native plants adjacent to the parking lot. Over the past year, EDI volunteers have spent many hours maintaining these plants, and the result is now a beautiful habitat for pollinators!

If you are interested in future volunteer opportunities and being a part of something great, visit our Volunteer Page to learn more and sign-up!

Jeff Saar attaching the appreciation plaque. (Christine Beck)

EDI Fieldtrips by Vicky Bonnett

Students from Anza Elementary planting. (Vicky Bonnett)

Wrapping up another great year of education fieldtrips with students from southeast San Diego! This year we made 1,217 connections with students on conserved lands in San Diego, such as Crestridge Ecological Reserve and San Diego Bay National Wildlife Refuge. Students planted 239 Purple Needle Grass, which is California's state grass! Students also planted an additional 342 native plants, including San Diego Sunflower, California Artemisia, and other important plants in our coastal sage scrub and chaparral habitats.

These field trips and opportunities for educational programming are provided free of charge to schools. We also provide bus transportation, which makes these experiences accessible when the cost is too high, or there is no other means of transportation available to participants. It is thanks to funding support from USFW SoCal Urban Refuge Program, SDGE, California Coastal Conservancy, and Malk Foundation that we are able to deliver this programming to the students who need it most. Thank you!


Breakfast with Pollinators! by Ashley Mota

Please join EDI in celebrating Pollinator Week (June 20-25) by having Breakfast with Pollinators!

Date: Friday, June 24, 2022
Time: 8:30 AM to 10:00 AM
Where: Crestridge Ecological Reserve; 1181 Horsemill Rd., El Cajon, CA 92021

We will eat breakfast in the oak woodland, do a short hike, play pollinator bingo, and make newspaper pots to hold milkweed seed. All supplies will be provided!
Must RSVP to participate. Click Here to RSVP, or visit our Events Page!

EDI at Mt. Helix Park's Nature Day by Ashley Mota

EDI is excited to attend Mt. Helix Park's Nature Day on June 25th, 2022, from 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM! Come visit us, along with other nature-minded organizations, and celebrate the native plants and wildlife that inhabit this historic nature preserve. There will be learning lectures, activites for kids, and a food truck!

4901 Mt Helix Dr, La Mesa, CA 91941
Admission and parking are FREE.

Visit Mt. Helix Park's Website to learn more, and visit the Nature Day Registration page to sign-up for this exciting event!