By Kayla Sarah Patel and Jamie Liu

On this past rainy Monday afternoon, the seven of us huddled into Dr. Gillespie’s office with him and one of his undergraduate students to discuss our project for the first time. After some brief introductions, he unveiled the project he had in mind for us: the biodiversity atlas! The atlas is an interactive online series of maps that overlays Los Angeles topography and distributions of plants and animals. It also has an impressive few pages that show future projections of temperature, geography and land development. He had the idea for us to make a website about those endangered species in the atlas. We left the meeting with our stakeholder feeling enthusiastic and inspired, yet slightly confused. Luckily, the seven of us had another meeting only two hours later.

As seven environmentalists and biologists, we all quickly agreed in our next meeting that we also wanted to do fieldwork to impact the UCLA campus more directly. We talked about weeding, planting native (and maybe even endangered!) plants around campus, inviting local schools to come on field trips to Sage Hill, and making pamphlets or signage available at Sage Hill. Finally, we decided we could combine most of our ideas by transforming Sage Hill into a public, educational display of endangered plants flourishing in Los Angeles in addition to helping with the biodiversity atlas. We still don’t know where we will get all of our endangered plants or exactly how we are finally going to convince UCLA administrators to allow us to put up signage at Sage Hill, but we are working on it. Despite the constant reports of new obstacles facing the protection of our environment this week, we are optimistic that our ideas can come together into a project to help conserve the amazing biodiversity in our city.