My First Experience Testing Water Quality in the Chollas Creek Community

Lola Schettini Ramirez reflects on her first year as a University of San Diego (USD) College Corps fellow with San Diego Coastkeeper’s science program.

Lola Schettini Ramirez and Our Science Program

As a Coastkeeper fellow, my first water testing experience was on February 25, 2023. At first, I didn’t know what to expect from this experience, but I learned how to manage and use all the water testing equipment beforehand.

It was raining a lot on this day and the day before, so it was an excellent opportunity to go water testing. I was excited to see how the kids in the BIPOC Youth Science Program would be conducting all the tests. When we arrived at the first site, it was full of flowing water. We used a long sampling pole with a bottle attached to it to collect a sample. Using the sampling pole allowed us to avoid touching any contaminated water and risk of any sickness, and it diminished the risk of falling into the water. All the kids gathered to conduct the different tests once we collected enough water. The students conducted tests for pH, turbidity, and salinity, among other parameters. They also collected water samples for our partner lab for more extensive testing, like total dissolved solids, heavy metals, and nitrates/nitrites.

I loved watching the kids get excited to use all the equipment, and I also learned by observing them. The protocol was repeated at each testing site, and even in the pouring rain, everyone worked seamlessly together. Everyone worked quickly because of the weather, and we were able to finish earlier than expected!

On that rainy day, I had my first water testing experience. After this day, I attended multiple water testing days, but it never rained again like it did that first time. The journey taught me the necessity of teamwork, the worth of water testing, and the beauty of nature’s flow.

Lola’s first sampling experience with the BIPOC Youth Science Program took place in the rain.

About Coastkeeper’s BIPOC Youth Science Program

In partnership with Groundwork San Diego-Chollas Creek and Outdoor Outreach, San Diego Coastkeeper launched a new science program in Fall 2021. Our one-of-a-kind program engages Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) high school students in year-long environmental science education and workforce training. Our goal is to inspire the next generation of environmental scientists, conservationists, and stewards. Learn more here.

Thank you to our outstanding 2022-2023 USD College Corps fellows!