Volunteering USA California Nature Conservation – Maximilian
In his feedback interview Maximilian looks back on his time as a nature conservation volunteer in the USA. Learn more about his time in beautiful California
Project: Nature conservation in California
Location: Pinnacles National Park and Andrew Molera State Park in California
Durtation: End of June until end of August 2019 – 8 weeks
Support from the Natucate team:
Volunteering in the USA – Feedback: Six questions for Maximilian
1) Could you give us a short overview of your tasks in the project?
The first 3 weeks were spent in Pinnacles National Park where we removed invasive plants to protect the native vegetation. We mainly removed the yellow star-thistle but also other plant species.
Another project was in Piedras Blancas where we built paths for a future campsite by the sea. Typical tasks were driving wheelbarrows or knocking the side boundaries for the paths into the ground. Another group has formed large stones to build a kind of "drain" for rainwater.
In Andrew Molera State Park we rebuilt a closed hiking trail which involved cutting off branches and twigs that had grown too big, and cleaning it up afterwards
2) What were the biggest challenges for you during the project?
In Pinnacles National Park the great heat of over 40 degrees Celsius was challenging for the entire team. So some participants were dehydrated. In addition, the work was very monotonous and therefore it was sometimes difficult to stay motivated. However, the crew leaders were always helped and supported us very well. After finishing the project in Pinnacles National Park, I came to Piedras Blancas from the fourth week on. In contrast to Pinnacles, the temperatures there were very pleasant due to the direct location by the sea. But the work was much more strenuous and caused muscle ache, thanks to hours of wheelbarrows driving with heavy stones. At Andrew Molera State Park I only spent two days. That's why I can't say much about the work. I found my two days there quite relaxed. Others said that the work was hard, because every day heavy tools had to be carried for miles to the place of work.
3) Was there something you liked most? Or something you remember particularly negatively?
I liked the projects but the work can be very hard and sometimes monotonous. Nevertheless, you spend the day in the fresh air and see the beautiful and varied landscapes of California (beaches, steppes, hilly landscapes). You also spend a lot of time with cool people from all over the world and learn new things like building paths. Another highlight were of course the excursions on the off-days with the other volunteers.
4) Have you done anything in your free time that you can recommend to future participants?
Before I was involved in my first project in Pinnacles National Park, I had a week of free time. This week I went on a roadtrip with 6 other international volunteers. We spent two nights in Sequoia National Park and saw breathtaking Redwood trees and waterfalls. Then we went to Las Vegas. Fortunately, we were there on July 4th, the Independence Day of the USA, and the mood was accordingly ;). We also saw the Grand Canyon and experienced an impressive sunset. Furthermore, we often went to Santa Cruz on our free days, a typical Californian surfer city, and played volleyball on the beach. Before our project in Andrew Molera State Park we visited Los Angeles for four days. We have seen the typical tourist attractions like Santa Monica, the Hollywood Sign or the Walk of Fame, but also the not so glamorous side of Los Angeles, like the quarter where our Airbnb was located. Before flying back home we spent our last days in San Francisco.
5) What tips would you give to other participants?
Do something in your free time, e.g. drive to Santa Cruz, because it can get boring in the base camp in Boulder Creek. Buy enough food because there is common food available (mostly the leftovers from the projects) but it is often expired and not very varied. Always take enough food with you, as the work is demanding and you are often far away from water sources. Also drink a lot when it's very hot, like in Pinnacles, otherwise you'll dehydrate quickly.
6) Can you estimate how many additional costs you had on site?
Since we did a lot and spent most evenings in Santa Cruz besides our roadtrip and trip to LA, I spent about 1.500 $ on site.
Become a volunteer in the USA and play an active role in conserving the Golden Coast's unique nature
Join the team of an animal shelter in the US, dedicated to ending the exploitation of farmed animals