The SDHC Team - Sarah Krejca, Assistant Program Coordinator
Where are you from originally?
What initially drew you to become involved in the preservation effort?
Growing up I always liked being outdoors and had a love and respect for animals. Although I lived in Chicago, I was lucky enough to live in a home surrounded by oak trees and have parents that took me on hikes during the summers. Once in college, my passion for exploring and conserving our natural resources was only strengthened. The summer after my 2nd year of university, I studied abroad in Kenya where I focused on wildlife management. That experience was life changing and I knew then that my work would ultimately focus on conserving our natural resources in one way or another.
When did you join the SDHC team and why did you decide to become a part of this organization?
I began volunteering in June 2012 and began working part-time in November 2012 and full-time in October 2013. I wanted to find a more rewarding way to leverage my backgrounds in biology and environmental law and my passion for the outdoors with an organization doing work I support. I was looking for a way to get involved specifically with an organization working on land conservation. I happened upon SDHC’s website, saw they were looking for volunteers, and now here I am more than 2 years later. I love the variety of work I get to do and feel lucky that I get to explore places that very few people do. Plus, I work with some very knowledgeable people who are just as passionate about conservation as I am.
What is your favorite preserve and why?
Bridges & Santa Fe Creek Preserve. All of SDHC’s preserves have something special about them but to me, this preserve really stands out. It is one of the few places that I have visited in southern California that has water (Escondido Creek) running through all year long. Plus, the site is peaceful, rich with a variety of rare and sensitive species, and is a great place for honing my birding skills.
Why is it important to focus efforts on San Diego County specifically?
San Diego County is one of the most biologically diverse areas in the world with nearly 300 rare, threatened, and endangered plant and animal species, more than ANY comparable land area in the continental U.S.! Yet, it is also subject to ever-increasing development which threatens the longevity and health of the area. Over 94% of native grasslands, 70% of coastal sage scrub habitat, and 97% of vernal pools have been destroyed in San Diego County. We need these native habitats not only for the beauty they provide but also for the value they provide to our ecosystem in ways such as reducing air pollution, aiding in flood and erosion control, improving water quality, and supporting animals that provide natural insect and rodent control.
Additionally, San Diego County has a strong coalition of people and organizations working together towards conserving biodiversity on a regional level and ensuring that there is a coordinated effort to create an interconnected preserve system which is vital to maintaining successful wildlife populations. I believe the success of these efforts will serve as an example to other regions throughout California and the rest of the country.
What has been the reaction of the children at the local elementary schools you've visited?
I’ve just started joining Jim on the school visits and I have been so motivated by the reactions we’ve received. Overall the kids have been really inquisitive and excited to hear our story. Let’s not forget about the adults! We’ve been so welcomed by the teachers. It’s just a lot of fun and very rewarding to share our love of nature and spread our message of conservation.
If you could share a message with all of San Diego, what would you share?
San Diego County is a beautifully unique part of the world with the ocean, desert, and mountains all within a short drive. It takes all of us working together and respecting the environment to preserve these wonderful resources. Also, studies have shown that people are increasingly disconnected from nature which is resulting in increased rates of obesity, attention disorders, and depression. So let’s get outdoors and encourage our children to do the same!
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