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The Endangered – Komodo Dragon

By Nk Soon, Youth Manager

Fire-breathing dragons may be fantasy, but Komodo Dragons are not. With the yellow color of its long, forked tongue that is a spitting image of fire, and it being an actual lizard, Komodo Dragons are the closest thing you can get to the mythical creatures.

Make a Difference Day 2016 is Right Around the Corner!

MADD logoWe are holding our Fourth Annual Make a Difference Day on Saturday, October 22th, 2016!

Get the flyer here!

TREE MUSKETEERS’ Youth Managers will start up the activities at 9:30am, form the teams, gather supplies and lead their groups out to the median.

Purple Team stands by their contribution to the Community Clean-Up

A big thank you to our sponsor Chevron and we look forward to seeing you October 22th!


The Endangered Pollinators

By Fernando Aguilar and Lucas Glastetter

Pollinators are very important to the survival of humans and other species around the globe. Most people think that only bees pollinate, moving pollen between plants or trees to fertilize them. However, pollinators also include ants, wasps, beetles, butterflies and even some reptiles, birds and bats. Unfortunately, our most familiar pollinator, the bumble bee, is in decline.

Why they are important: Between 80% and 90% of all the world’s crops require pollination from one animal or another and over 100 of those crops are grown in the United States alone. Their contribution is responsible for an estimated $20 billion dollars of the US economy. You might be interested to know that not all pollinators are native. A large percentage of the bee population in the US is managed by bee keepers in order to help pollinate local crops. However, when bee populations get low we require the help of native, ‘wild’ or ‘un-managed’ bees to pick up the slack to create our food supply and keep the entire ecosystem healthy.

What is the problem: Bees are in decline all over the world at a rate of about 30% each year, mostly due to human activity.

Why they are going extinct: Much of the bee decline is due to pesticide spraying. These insecticides are called neonicotinoids and can kill billions of bees at one time. Other negative outside factors can cause Colony Collapse Disorder. Invasive parasites or beetles and disappearing native habitat are also contributing factors.

How we can help:

  1. Do not use pesticides or insecticides to treat your yard or garden. These are harmful for bees and can be harmful to humans as well.
  2. Buy local organic produce and honey. This helps support fruit, vegetable and honey producers in your area.
  3. If you have a garden register your space in the Pollinator’s Partnership database to help grow the community of people protecting bee habitat.


Want more of The Endangered? Check out the growing list of articles on our Wildlife page.


Pollinator Partnership
Native Pollinators in Agriculture Project
US Fish & Wildlife Service

Congratultions to Our Summer 2016 LEAD Course Graduates!

On August 15th, our Summer LEAD (Leadership Education and Action Development) Courses came to a close and we celebrated with staff, family, friends and Youth Management Alumni at the El Segundo City Council Chambers.

Our President, 16-year-old Fernando Aguilar, was the event’s Toastmaster, and short speeches were given by previous LEAD Graduates including Youth Management Team Alum and Advisory Directors Blake Parker, Julian Poyourow and Adam Gerard.

The Speech Contest included the 2-4 minutes speeches by the following LEAD students:

Paloma Arellano
Victor Ayaay
Sebastian Hanson
Alyssa Sanders
Kate Santos
Sasha Sewell
Siam Sewell
NK Soon
Alison Stosser
Kaylynn Taylor

A big thank you to City Council & City Hall for allowing us to use the facility, to the El Segundo community for your continued support and to our Executive Director Gail Church and Advisory Director and Public Speaking instructor Catherine Magruder for teaching our summer courses.

Congratulations, LEAD Graduates!


Another Memory Tree Adoption Ceremony in the Books!

On August 20th, we held our Annual Memory Tree Adoption. We welcomed Wpromote, Jean Chandler, and Nora Gornov as our newest Memory Tree Guardians. We also helped celebrate their loved ones and events as part of the adoption ceremony, and showed them how to care for their new tree friends to help them thrive long into the future.

The tree planting season is just around the corner so if you are interested in planting or adopting a Memory Tree in honor of your loved one or event, please reserve your slot for our first planting of the season on November 19th. Email us at for more info or visit our Memory Tree planting page here.

You’re Invited! LEAD Graduation: August 15th

We are reaching the conclusion of a busy and educational summer. Our Youth Management Series ended in July and the Public Speaking Class ended just last week. Our students will receive their certificate during an official ceremony at El Segundo’s City Council Chamber on Monday, August 15th starting at 7 pm.

Catherine Magruder, who teaches the Public Speaking Class will host the gathering, which will also include a speaking contest. We hope you will attend the ceremony to encourage our young speakers and congratulate all graduates.


The Endangered – Siberian Tiger

By Utsa Parikh, Youth Manager

Siberian / Amur Tiger by Andrew Spillane
Siberian / Amur Tiger by Andrew Spillane

The Siberian Tiger or Amur Tiger, is the largest cat in the world and averages eleven feet in length! They are known for their orange fur with black stripes which are unique to each and every Siberian Tiger, just like our DNA. Siberian Tigers are most different from the other tigers because they have manes like lions.

Youth Manager becomes Alcoa Scholar

Fernando and Gail at city council
Gail Church, Tree Musketeers Executive Director and Fernando Aguilar, Youth Manager at El Segundo City Council Meeting

In 2012, Fernando Aguilar came to El Segundo looking for an opportunity to be a leader in the South Bay Community. He came across Tree Musketeers, and after seeing that young people were in leadership positions here, implementing environmental programs, he decided he wanted to get involved. After volunteering at a few tree care events Fernando discovered our LEAD Courses (Leadership Education and Action Development) – including the Youth Manager Series, Public Speaking and Youth Planting Supervisor classes – and enrolled.

During the LEAD Courses Fernando learned people, personal and management skills. He then participated in the Public Speaking class, taught by Toastmaster International member and long time Tree Musketeers Adult Partner Catherine Magruder. He even delivered an inspiring speech on the loss of gorilla habitat in the wild and what we can do to help during the Annual LEAD Graduation Ceremony.

“Tree Musketeers’ LEAD courses gave me the confidence to speak to people about anything, whether it be politics or business. To give a speech in front of City Council is a feeling that will really stick with you.”

It turns out that Fernando has had quite the busy schedule during his time with us. He has been involved in Kiwin’s since 2008 and Boy Scouts since he was 13-years-old. Once he completed his LEAD courses, he was invited to join our Youth Management Team in Fall of 2014 and is now in charge of running the day-to-day activities of the organization along with five other Youth Managers.

“Being a Youth Manager has given me a chance to lead people, big, small and of all ages,” he adds.

Last year Fernando decided to apply to be an Alcoa Scholar at NatureBridge, a program that fosters within it’s participants a sense of place, interconnections and stewardship in nature. We were ecstatic to learn that out of thousands of applicants, Fernando was one of only a hundred accepted Scholars for the Summer 2016 Program. He spent the majority of his time in the program in Shenandoah National Park and below are a couple moments from his trip.

Group Photo - before hiking
Alcoa Scholars Summer 2016, ready for a hike!
with Lincoln
Lincoln Memorial
just beautiful
A stream in Shenandoah National Park
Fernando & classmate give water quality presentation
A waterfall retreat!


LEAD Courses have commenced for the summer and we are looking forward to seeing what future graduates will accomplish. Want to attend our LEAD speech contest and graduation on August 15th? Check out our calendar for more info.

The Endangered – Chimpanzee

By Talia Gerard, Youth Manager

Going for a ride - By Drew Perry
Going for a ride – By Drew Perry

Chimpanzees, originated from Africa, are categorized as great apes. A common misconception about Chimpanzees are that they are monkeys, this is false. A big thing that differentiates them is that monkeys have tails while Chimpanzees do not. Chimpanzees are very similar to human beings, as we share 98% of DNA; therefore it is important that we keep these animals from becoming extinct.

The Endangered – Gorilla

By Fernando Aguilar, Youth Manager

Baby Gorilla by William Dorgan (

The civil unrest in the Republic of Congo has taken its toll on the Eastern Lowland Gorilla. The Eastern Lowland Gorilla rests in the lowland rain forests in eastern Congo. As a result, its home has decreased from 8,100 square miles (about the size of the state of Massachusetts) to about 4,600 square miles in the past fifty years.