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Canopy Career Chronicles

Monica, the Conservation Leader. Translating science into action
Puebla, Mexico. A desert landscape with several trees, shrubs, and cacti. A path leads to a greenhouse, from which a voice is explaining, "Next we'll see some of our younger plants."
A woman, Monica, stands and gestures to a low table, upon which several small pots are sitting. Two adults and three children are peering carefully at the plants. One of them says, "They're just a bunch of pots." Another says, "No, there's something inside."
Monica holds a pot with a small plant emerging. It is labeled "Q. brandegeei." A child points to the pot and asks, "What are these little guys?" Monica replies, "Those are oak trees from Baja Sur, Mexico. Their story is anything but ordinary."
Flashback to a few years ago in Baja Sur, Mexico. Monica, the narrator, says, "The first time I was walking into that grove, I was in awe." She walks through a rocky landscape with another person wearing a hat. She looks up at one of the few large trees.
Monica, the narrator, says, "But there was something strange going on there." She holds an acorn, looking puzzled. She says, "It's like an oak retirement community." The other person has stepped closer to the oak tree and is touching its trunk.
Monica, the narrator, says, "Not a single tree here is less than 100 years old, which is a problem. When these trees die, the species risks going extinct. It's my job to make sure that doesn't happen." She and her companion stand in the rocky landscape near the oak trees. Monica is looking closely at one of the trees.
Back in the present day, Monica is talking to an adult and two children. One of the children is holding a small pot. She says, "Wow. Did you always know you'd grow up to be a scientist?" Monica responds, "You know, I always loved nature, but I actually entered college as an English major!"
Flashback to Monica's college years. Monica, the narrator, says, "But I took an environmental science class as an elective. That was my first exposure to the ideas of climate change and vanishing biodiversity. It was eye-opening. " A professor stands in front of a classroom, gesturing toward a screen that shows a forested area labeled "1995" and a barren landscape with tree stumps labeled "2005." Monica and a classmate look on with worried expressions.
Monica and a classmate are sitting at a table, looking at books and papers. One of the papers has a picture of a tree with the caption, "Under threat!" They look worried. Her friend says, "I wish there was something we could do." Monica responds, "Yeah, there has to be."
In the present day, Monica stands and talks to a family. One of the adults says, "So you got into conservation!" Monica says, "Well, not exactly."
Flashback to college. Monica, the narrator, says, "I wanted to work in nature, travel, and meet all sorts of people. I love trees, so studying them and getting a science degree seemed like a way to do all that." She stands with her hands on her hips, looking at a noticeboard with adverstisements for jobs and travel opportunities. One says "National Parks." Another says "Visit Central America."
Monica, the narrator, says, "I didn't have a clear vision of where I'd end up, but I hoped my degree and experiences would open some doors." Monica is surrounded by different sizes, shapes, and types of doors.
Monica, the narrator, says, "Eventually, they did." One of the doors swings open, revealing the rocky landscape and large oak trees.
Back in the present, Monica is standing in the greenhouse surrounded by plants. She says, "Today, as a conservation scientist working in a public garden, I focus on using research to help save vulnerable tree species from extinction. But this is a huge task, one that you can't do alone."
Monica, the narrator, says, "So I pull together groups of scientists, conservationists, and local community members to investigate threats to trees." Monica is standing surrounded by dozens of people. They are men and women, young and old, from different backgrounds and ethnicities. A tree and a cow are off to the side.
Monica is holding an acorn and reaching out to touch the branch of an oak tree while a colleague bends down to look at something on the ground. She says, "So what do we think is keeping the acorns from establishing themselves and the young trees from becoming adults?"
Monica, the narrator, says, "With shifting weather patterns brought by a changing climate, water is likely an issue." She kneels on the ground, scooping up some soil. A few other people are standing nearby, asking questions. One says, "Maybe they're just not getting enough?" Another asks, "Or not enough for a long enough period of time?" And the other says, "Or at the right time of year?"
Monica is standing is standing in a field, pointing to a horned cow that is sniffing at a small seedling. A man standing nearby says, "But there could be other factors." Monical says, "Hmmm, maybe grazing's an issue."
Monica, the narrator, says, "The first step was bulking up the species' numbers. There were acorns growing in only two botanical gardens before we started. Now, we've got thousands in 14 gardens!" A map of the United States and Mexico shows small greenhouse icons spread over the Pacific coast and into the interior of Mexico. A zoom into one of the greenhouse reveals a large group of potted plants like we've seen in Monica's garden.
Monica, the narrator, says, "We wanted to see what would happen if we planted acorns, and protected and monitored the seedlings in the dry creek beds of Baja." She stands with a clipboard, looking out over several small trees planted in the ground. She thinks, "Is drought impacting them or is it something else?"
Monica, the narrator, says, "And we run experiments, fencing out cows to see if a year or two without grazing could help the seedlings establish." Several horned cows are grazing behind a fence, just out of reach of the young oak seedlings.
Monica, the narrator, says, "We're also working with climate scientists at a Mexican university, creating models to determine where the best habitat for this species will be in the future based on predicted rain patterns." She stands behind a man who is working on a map on a computer. She points to the large computer screen and says, "Those foothills could be the spot!"
Monica, the narrator, says, "But we can't keep all this research to ourselves, so I do a ton of outreach, inspiring and educating to get the message across and find collaborators." She's appearing on a radio studio. She and another woman are wearing headphones and speaking into microphones. The woman asks Monica, "What motivates you to do this kind of work?"
Monica is speaking into a radio microphone and saying, "I love translating science into action. It's gratifying to think that our efforst might result in these oaks bouncing back from the brink of extinction.
Back in the greenhouse, Monica is holding a potted oak and talking to a family. One of the children says, "Hooray, you're saving the oaks!" Monica replies, "Haha, well, we're off to a good start. We still have a lot to do to make sure oaks don't go extinct. But we are working hard! I meet a new team in China on Tuesday!"
A desert landscape with several trees, shrubs, and cacti. A path leads to a greenhouse, from which Monica says, "Okay, let's continue with the tour."
As the family and Monica move off to a different part of the greenhouse, one of the children stays behind, looking at a door. She thinks, "Hmmm... I wonder where this door leads."