I had a fantastic time this morning with some budding scientists from Rosa Parks Elementary School in City Heights; a couple of their dedicated teachers; Staff from Ocean Discovery Institute, and a few parents. My goal was to talk to them about my (highly non-linear) career path, and get them excited about wetlands and ecology. The story of trematode infections in horn snails/Fundulus/birds is always a fun one, since it involves alien-like possession, poop, and charismatic critters.
After I told them about how much I struggled with math as a kid (and how I leaned on friends, teachers, and other resources to get through!), I told them the parasite story, but used the marsh as a “prop” - we held Fundulus, Cerithidia, we ooooh-ed and aaaah-ed, and then when I was looking around for nearby birds as examples of final hosts, we were lucky enough to see a flamingo - yes, an actual, living, flamingo in San Diego Bay.
Working with great educators, in a wetland, surrounded by ~60 excited 4th graders, playing with Fundulus, AND seeing a flamingo?
Now THAT is an awesome way to spend a morning!