Summer 2021


Cholla flower in bloom. Photo credit: Christine Beck

Dear Friends and Supporters,

It's hard to believe summer is already coming to and end. Many people have commented to me lately that San Diego has no detectable seasons, but I beg to differ!

I have lived in southern California for one full trip around the sun now, and I am beginning to detect the (albeit subtle) changes in seasons here, and their associated signals… In early spring, my dog and I found snakes on the trails almost daily, as they were newly emerging from their half-starved state of hibernation and looking for a meal. During these hot summer months though, we have not spotted a single snake during daylight hours. The Hooded orioles that nested in the palm trees near my home seem to have departed, but the hummingbirds are making more frequent appearances, even peering into my windows and poking around my flowering plants, waiting for the blooms.

During these crazy and unpredictable times, I find connecting with the peace and calm of nature, and the steady ebb and flow of its seasons, essential to my mental well-being. Each day, each month, each season, offers us another opportunity to take a moment’s rest from the business of our lives, and simply pay attention to the living beings that inhabit the world with us- each one beautiful and unique. They don’t know there is a pandemic. And they don’t care. What a relief it is to quietly share their world for a while.

I am excited to share some of the programs we have been developing at EDI, to help all of us connect with nature in new and meaningful ways in the months to come.

Thank you for reading, and thanks as always for being part of the EDI community.

Sarah Maisonneuve,
Executive Director


This year, EDI is bringing students on sea kayaking trips to the San Diego Bay National Wildlife Refuge. Photo credit: Victoria Bonnett

Field Trip News!
By Victoria Bonnett

Now that school is back in session, we are busy planning for our field trip season! Thanks to funding support from US Fish and Wildlife Service, CA State Coastal Conservancy, and SDGE, we will bring 700 students on field trips to explore Crest Ecological Reserve and the San Diego Bay National Wildlife Refuge this year. A new focus of our programming will be to help families make connections together in nature. As part of our new "Education through Recreation" program, students who participate in our educational field trips will be asked to invite a parent or family member to return with them, and explore the outdoors through a sea kayaking trip on the San Diego Bay, or a day hike on a portion of the Pacific Crest Trail. We are so excited to be able to break down some of the barriers that keep families from enjoying the many recreational opportunities that San Diego has to offer.


EDI's Early Explorer's program kicked off in September at Cresridge Ecological Reserve. Photo credit: Victoria Bonnett

EDI Early Explorers!
By Victoria Bonnett

In September, we kicked off our first ever Early Explorers program. We had 3 families join us to explore the oak woodland area of Crestridge Ecological Reserve. We hiked under the oak canopies to spot acorn woodpeckers, scrub jays, mourning doves, and hummingbirds. We climbed rocks and found lots of natural objects that helped us make musical sounds. After a short snack break we gathered around to take a closer look at some of our collections such as bird nests, dried flowers, seeds and even a snake skin!

We will be adding new locations weekly, and will explore trails, read a storybook and complete a craft to take home! Register on our website to join us on our next adventure!


September Book Club
By Victoria Bonnett

Join me in reading this month’s selection: "The Planter of Modern Life: Louis Bromfield and the Seeds of a Food Revolution," by Stephen Heyman. Register here to attend our remote bookclub discussion on September 29th at 7pm.

Remember to select EDI as your charity when you purchase the book on Amazon Smile!


Photo credit: Cindy Pencek

Moth night!
By Christine Beck

Our first ever "mothing events," in partnership with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, have been a great success! We have collected and identified lots of moths, as well as great variety other nighttime creatures. We still have a few spots open for our last mothing event, tonight! To join local moth experts, Hector Valtierra and BJ Stacey for an evening dedicated to our nighttime pollinators, register here. Special lights will be used to attract moths for close-up viewing! In addition, we will listen for owls, search overhead for bats, and perhaps spot another scorpion or two...


EDI Annual Native Plant Sale
By Christine Beck

This year’s native plant sale will be a hybrid event with online pre-orders and an in-person sale. You can find details on how to place your pre-order through September 21st on our website. All online pre-orders will be ready for pick-up at the in-person sale:

Date/time: Saturday, October 23rd from 9 am -1 pm
Place: Crestridge Ecological Reserve, at 1171 Horsemill Road, El Cajon

We will have native milkweed for sale, propagated from wild seed collected by EDI biologist, Mary Duffy. Staff knowledgeable about the care and maintenance of native plants will also be available to answer questions and provide tips on growing native plants in your yard. We look forward to seeing you there!


EDI volunteers collecting milkweed seed at the milkweed farm. Photo credit: Tim Stahl

Summer Fun
By Christine Beck

EDI volunteers worked hard over the summer to ensure the South County Milkweed Farm continued to flourish. They spent many hours weeding, planting, watering, and finally, harvesting the milkweed seedpods. They also helped San Diego National Wildlife Refuge staff maintain the native plants they, the volunteers, had previously installed around the new refuge parking lot off Highway 94, near the Steele Canyon Bridge. We noted that many native bees and butterflies were already calling the restored knoll home!


Long-time EDI Outreach Director, Mary Duffy. Photo credit: Tim Stahl

A Changing of the Guard

By Sarah Maisonneuve

EDI's much beloved Outreach Director, Mary Duffy, partially retired in June from from an outstanding career leading environmental restoration, stewardship and education activities for EDI. Happily, we are not losing her altogether, as she will continue working for EDI part-time as a Biologist, and field instructor for our environmental education programs. We are so thankful to Mary for her tremendous service to EDI, and to biodiversity conservation in general!


EDI's new Conservation Director, Christine Beck.

Please join us in welcoming our newest staff member: Conservation Director, Christine Beck!

Christine has worked in San Diego County for the past 25 years in the field of natural resource conservation. Recently retired from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (Department), she also worked for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Geological Survey. Christine’s fieldwork focused on rare and declining bird and plant species, while her regulatory experience focused on the implementation of the Department’s Natural Community Conservation Program. The transition from a career in wildlife biology to EDI Conservation Director seemed like a natural progression, as Christine strongly believes that we must invest in and empower children if natural communities and the wildlife they support are to endure.

Welcome to the team, Christine!