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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.


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.

Earth Day 2016 is coming up!

We are holding an Earth Day Event to give care to our Trees to the Sea. Join the Community Clean Up on Saturday, April 23rd, 2016!

Volunteers, both tall and small, are invited to participate. Want to lead a group? We would love to have you as one of our team leaders!

Want to dig in with us? Register here.

A Look Back at Arbor Day 2016!

On March 5th, 2016 the City of El Segundo and Tree Musketeers held their 29th Annual Arbor Day Celebration! Tall and Small volunteers came out to plant over 70 new trees, which replaced large areas of the invasive plant acacia, and to care for Trees to the Sea along Imperial Highway. The tree planting and care were followed up by lunch provided by Chevron, our Presenting Sponsor. We also had beverages and desert provided by other local businesses and a silent auction, raising funds to keep programs like Arbor Day and our Summer Leadership Courses up and running.

During our closing ceremony speeches were made by our co-founder Tara Church, Arbor Day Task Force Member Eric Busch and Scott Houston of West Basin.

Take a look at the great work our volunteers accomplished!

So You Decided to Water Your Lawn Less, Now What?

With growing awareness of California’s catastrodrip line imagephic drought, talk has turned to water conservation, often with an emphasis on turning off sprinklers and letting lawns die. While it is true that landscaping accounts for 57% of the water used in California homes, this water often has greater environmental benefits than it is credited. Lawns produce oxygen and sequester the carbon that is a primary cause of global warming. Perhaps more importantly, the water used for irrigating a home’s landscape also trickles into the soil and provides much needed water to any trees sharing ground with the vilified lawn. Grass absorbs water and pollutants from the air and filters them through its blades and roots, effectively cleaning the air and ground water. It also helps prevent erosion with its roots by acting as a binder for the soil. It breaks up the heat island effect, a major contributor to global warming, and makes our yards useable for parties and play. However, it takes a lot of water to keep it green. In caring for our trees we are also caring for our Planet, and so it is important to consider the most effective ways to continue to adequately water our trees even when providing less water to the landscape surrounding them. Below is a list of ways you can keep your trees healthy while using less water on landscaping.

Want to maintain your lawn and still conserve water? Here are some options:

  • Most people over-water their lawns to achieve that emerald green look which is aesthetically pleasing but also wasteful. Did you know that most types of grass only need 1 inch of water a week to keep them healthy? To make sure that you’re not over or under watering consult this handy guide:
  • Californians are washing millions of gallons of perfectly good irrigation water down their drains every time they shower, do laundry, or wash the dishes. This water, known as grey water, is not good for personal use, but is perfect for irrigation! Investing in a grey water recapturing system may be costly at first, but it can save you hundreds of dollars a year in water costs. To learn more about installing a grey water system visit this website: If you are unable or uninterested in installing a grey water system, there are still plenty of ways to capture and use this precious resource. Learn more about grey water here:
  • You can also make your lawn more water efficient by making sure that it captures all of the water you give it. Dethatching a lawn is the process of cutting it down to one or two inches so that the grass doesn’t tangle and block the water from being absorbed into the soil. Think of it like giving your lawn a buzz cut to remove tangles. You can also aerate your lawn to allow for greater water saturation. Head on over to Sunset to learn more about dethatching and aerating:
  • If you are re-landscaping, use native plants that are more drought tolerant and sink your yard so that rainwater percolates into the soil rather than running off.
  • Replace your sprinkler spray heads with rotors. Rotors put out less water and need to run longer, but the larger drops of water emitted fall directly into your grass rather than inefficiently misting into the air like spray heads.

If you intend to remove your lawn but don’t want to let your trees die, there are a few easy and effective options to ensure that your trees get enough water and stay healthy.

  • If you do choose to get rid of your lawn, please do so in an ecofriendly way. While it’s always tempting to take the easy way out, consider forgoing the use of herbicides, like Roundup, to kill your lawn and instead let it die from lack of water. Herbicides will poison your soil making it difficult to grow any future plants in the space, and they can hurt any surrounding plants you wish to keep, including trees. Herbicides also runoff into the drains and sink into the soil polluting the ocean and what little groundwater we have left.
  • Remember most trees don’t have tap roots, and with a shrinking water table those that do often can’t reach water anymore. If you turn your irrigation off, it’s important to supplement the water your trees are getting, especially during the summer months.
  • You can install a soaker hose around the drip line of the tree. The water needs of the tree depend on its species and size, but in general 2 hours on a slow flow once a month is enough to water your tree. To learn more about watering your trees during the drought consult read more here:
  • Make sure that your trees are keeping all of the water you are giving them by spreading a layer of mulch under their canopy. Mulch keeps water near the surface of the soil from evaporating. It also provides nutrients to the tree as it breaks down into the soil. We love mulch and recommend a layer 3 to 4 inches deep. Just make sure your mulch is two inches from the trunk of the tree as it can cause crown rot!

While removing a lawn to save water is a commendable eco-action, it’s important to do so carefully. Remember to do your research before changing your landscaping, and consider how turning off the water will affect all of the plants around your property, not just your lawn. For more tips on tree care stay tuned for next season’s Tree Service Quarterly