Legions of Humboldt County residents took part in the March for Science on Saturday, joining a worldwide rally for the importance of scientific study.
After close to eight hours of organizing and celebrating, co-chairman of the march and local fisheries biologist Ross Taylor said he was relieved, exhausted and happy with the turnout— which he estimated was about 3,000 people marching through downtown Arcata.
“I hope all of them are able to carry that positive energy forward,” Taylor said. “I think it’s important to stay effectively engaged and Elizabeth Connor’s break out session before the march really showed people how to call and contact senators and stay current with policies both locally and nationally.”
Taylor said the best thing about Saturday’s March for Science was that it was able to channel educational and learning opportunities for children and youth who, according to him, are the next generation of scientists.
“I think the expo we had earlier really got kids excited and it was great for them to see that they could be involved too,” Taylor said. “Overall, the most important part was that we had a great crew of people to make this happen.”
He also said that crew not only picked up and cleaned up the D Street Neighborhood Center, where the event started, but were also able to connect and build new relationships with scientists from around the county.
One of those scientist was habitat restoration and fish biologist Sarah Beesley who traveled from Klamath to attend the event. Beesley held a sign that read “In science I trust” and illustrated how beer was made through botany, biology and chemistry.
“I’m here to just be among my people,” she said. “As a little kid I grew up on creeks and really loved being outside and studying the little critters that live in there. Then in high school I took an ‘Adopt a stream’ class … and it stuck with me.”
Beesley said that although there might be a little bit of fear to march for some scientists, she said during a talk at the rally that she learned scientist can still keep their integrity, be unbiased and still show support for science.
Hoopa Valley tribal member Wendy Poppygeorge spoke at a rally before the march while holding her granddaughter Gigi.
“This will be [Gigi’s] first presentation but it won’t be her last,” Poppygeorge said. “We believe we are responsible to keep the world in balance and everything on this earth is alive and has a spirit.”
Throughout her speech, she said her ancestors — who stem from the Hoopa Valley, Karuk and Yurok tribes — believed their entire existence depended on the health of the environment.
“Tribes, conservation groups, coastal fisherman and entire communities among others suffer from this destruction,” she said. “We are here today to show all of our appreciation to all of the scientists who fight so hard to bring our communities back in balance.”
Recent Humboldt State University graduate Jessica Suarez earned a degree in environmental studies in 2016. She said the march was a great reflection of her major which combined the power of people and communities along with science and policy.
“We can’t have science without understanding the people. It’s not just research, it’s also the social aspect of it,” Suarez said. “It’s knowing that people impact the environment and it’s just not one-sided.”