By Jessica Woodall, Georgia
The mission trip in San Diego this summer is an experience I will cherish for years to come.
We traveled to the vibrant and exciting city of San Diego to participate in the annual Beauties for a Cause mission trip.
Each 2021 state and regional ambassador had the opportunity to join this trip based on the annual charitable giving campaign for the B4ACUSA Foundation. Friends, families, businesses, and supporters donated to each of the ambassadors.
I took some time to recap this past weekend and hope if you ever find yourself in San Diego, you reach out and volunteer with some of these environmental organizations and support these local businesses and restaurants.
DAY ONE: Service work and fun!
We started our mission trip by heading to Manzanita Canyon with help from the non-profit organization San Diego Canyonlands.
We were able to identify, learn, and remove invasive plant species taking over the Manzanita Canyon. We removed three full bags of invasive mustard plants from a section along a trail in the canyon. We were supplied with gardening tools, gloves, and bags to make the removal of the mustard plant a little bit easier. We had to ensure that all the seedlings and roots were removed entirely, or else they would grow back and spread even more!
Once we removed the invasive plant species, we headed to Azalea Community Park to pick up litter around the playground, picnic tables, and recreation areas. We cleaned up about three trash bags full of debris around the park.
We then went to North Park and grabbed coffee, tacos, and browsed boutiques and shops. Shout out to City Tacos for having the most delicious tacos I have ever had!
After lunch, we headed to the San Diego Safari Park! We met up with the current Miss Earth Air Marisa Butler and the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance. We learned about the opportunities for women working in science and wildlife conservation.
They told us about informative, fun learning opportunities for individuals in education. There are so many resources, workshops, and lesson plans provided for teachers to help raise awareness about animal conservation and environmental issues. Teachers are invited to visit the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance website to learn how you can impact your students!
We attended a safari tour, where we saw giraffes, rhinos, antelope, zebras, and serval native plants from Africa. We learned that the safari habitat was designed to mimic the same environment in Africa. We also saw flamingos, a cheetah, and other colorful bird species.
DAY TWO: We Clean Trails volunteer work
We arrived to Rose Creek to work directly with Marisa Butler and her non-profit organization We Clean Trails.
Rose Creek is one of the region's most polluted areas. It was heartbreaking to see firsthand the amount of trash, litter, and bulk items floating in and around the creek and embankments. We saw ducks, birds, and turtles swimming in a stream completely polluted with trash.
During our two hour clean up activity, we collected a scooter, several pairs of shoes, styrofoam food containers, plastic bags, boogie boards, clothing, wrappers, confetti, sunglasses, and more. We bagged up all the trash and weighed it, and we picked up a total of 289.3 pounds!
After cleaning Rose Creek, we went to a lovely Venezuelan restaurant called Congress Cafe. I ate the Caribeña Arepa, and it was incredible. This restaurant had great food, excellent service, and a beautiful atmosphere. I recommend it if you are in San Diego.
DAY THREE & FOUR: La Jolla Beach - A must visit location!
La Jolla is famous for its breathtaking views, cute shops, abundant local restaurants, local seaside art and craft market, and home to the many seals and sea lions that call this beach home.
We met with Carol from San Diego Seal Society. Carol informed us about their mission statement and fun facts about the biological differences between seals and sea lions.
She also spoke with us about how the changing conditions in the environment and the uptick in tourism affects the quality, health, and safety of these animals. She helped us understand how we all can (and should) advocate for the seals and sea lions.
As someone whose platform is eco-tourism and sustainable travel, this day was another eye-opening experience! I saw firsthand what you should NOT be doing while traveling, such as not following guidelines posted specifically to protect the safety, habit, and wellbeing of the seals and sea lions. Unfortunately, there was a lot of litter and trash on the ground, and individuals were not staying in the designated areas and were seen walking beyond ropes, walls, and cliffs.
While at La Jolla, we grabbed our Garbo Grabber volunteer kits to clean the sidewalks, beaches, and other high-traffic areas.
Each night after the "work" was complete, we shared dinner together and took in the gorgeous San Diego scenery.
We ended this particular evening by enjoying a hearty Italian meal at Cesarina, which was super cute and delicious! Then we enjoyed sitting on the western California beach by a campfire, laughing, talking, and getting to know each other.
I had a great time. As a mom to a young son, these types of trips do not happen often, and it was nice to bond with other ambassadors. I’m grateful to my husband and family for "holding down the fort" while I was gone and letting me experience such a fun weekend.
My biggest takeaway from this trip was how grateful and appreciative the citizens of San Diego were when they saw us cleaning up their city. We were able to encourage volunteerism, environmental advocacy, and community engagement. This trip helped me to truly realize the impact I have made during my time as a Beauties for a Cause ambassador. It makes me understand that my efforts to create a clean earth are worthwhile.
The impact, service, leadership, sisterhood, and fulfillment are why I love being a Beauties for a Cause ambassador.
Ariel, you did an incredible job planning such a memorable trip! Thank you for everything.
Next year’s mission trip is in the process of being planned. If you are interested in being a part of our mission or hosting a mission in your city, please contact the organization today!