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SPAWN volunteer and intern Annika Abbott tends to native plants in our nursery.

Volunteers are an integral part of the work we do here at Turtle Island Restoration Network. In California, Annika Abbott is a volunteer of our California-based program, the Salmon Protection And Watershed Network, or SPAWN, that protects endangered Coho salmon and the forests and watersheds they need to survive in West Marin County, California.

Annika joined our team as an intern through the TEAM program at Tamiscal High School during her junior year in January 2018 and continued interning with us during the past school year. During her time as an intern she has assisted with all aspects of our restoration projects including designing revegetation plans for sections of our Tocaloma restoration site, planting out particular sections, working in the native plant nursery, gathering data on smolt outmigration, and helping to prepare for our upcoming restoration project at the former San Geronimo golf course.

We are grateful for all of the work that Annika has done during her time as an intern and volunteer with SPAWN. She is intelligent, hard-working and enthusiastic, and it is a joy to work with her. Please read below to learn more about Annika Abbott, who will soon begin her freshman year of college at Colorado State University and plans to major in Watershed Science.

Please tell us a bit about yourself!

My name is Annika Abbott, and I live in Larkspur, about 40 minutes away from SPAWN. I just graduated from Tamiscal High School and am taking a gap semester this fall. Starting in January, I will be attending Colorado State University with a major in Watershed Science. I have always been passionate about sustainability and the environment and love to hike, run, and spend time in nature. When I’m not going to school or volunteering, I can be found working at the local farmers market, gardening, and baking sourdough bread. 

How long have you been volunteering with SPAWN and how did you find us?

During my junior year of high school, I was part of an alternative program (called Team) in which we were required to do a six hour weekly internship. A friend of mine who had previously volunteered at SPAWN recommended that I complete my internship here given my interest in the environment. I enjoyed myself so much that after my official school internship ended, I stayed and continued volunteering. I’ve now been with SPAWN since January 2019, so about a year and a half. 

What do you enjoy most about volunteering?

I always look forward to the days I volunteer because I know I’ll get to be outside all day. Working out in nature is peaceful and puts me in a good mood. Additionally, I love knowing that the work I am doing has an impact and is making a difference, it is a rewarding feeling. The best is when you see the results of your work later on, such as a tree you planted that has grown and thrived. At the end of a volunteer day, I always leave in a good mood. 

What have you learned through volunteering?

Interning has taught me so much about the local ecosystem and watershed of Marin, as well as the connection that exists between everything in nature. Each day that I work at SPAWN I learn something new, knowledge or skill, whether that be how to identify a Coho smolt or the proper way to use a machete. My work here has led me to choose my focus of study for college and better identify what I would like to do with my life and career. 

What would you say to someone who’s considering volunteering with us?

Volunteering at SPAWN will bring you into a wonderful community of people. It is a great way to make a difference and spend time in nature while protecting Marin’s ecosystem. 

Our volunteers are an essential part of the organization and we wouldn’t be able to complete the work we do without them! If you or anyone you know is interested in volunteering, please contact us at action@seaturtles.org for current opportunities.