VIP Spotlight – Violette

Setareh Nouriboshehri, Community Volunteer Ambassador (CVA)

It’s VIP Spotlight Monday! Today, we get to hear from VIP Violette, who serves the park through the Conservation & Environmental Steward Apprentice Program (CESAP for short). We first met Violette through the park’s EcoLogik Project Summer Program, which provides an experience for young women (ages 9-16) who have a passion for the natural and technical sciences. Since then, Violette has been working with Ranger Lonie on invasive species removing, Science Educator Sam Wynns on publishing field notes and creating an impressive climate change capstone project, and Science Educator Andrew Rosales and CVA Setareh Nouriboshehri on plant restoration efforts. Let’s hear what Violette has to say!*

VIP Violette posing with Carmella, her pet Australorp

Setareh: Alright Miss Violette! How did you first hear about Cabrillo National Monument?
• Violette: I think it was on Facebook. My mom was messing around on a bunch of homeschool groups [on the site], and she heard about EcoLogik and signed me up! I didn’t know there was such a beautiful place on the end of Point Loma.

S: What was your first impression of the park?
• V: You can look across the bay and see downtown San Diego, and there’s so many buildings there. Then you come to the Point, and it’s all about nature. I really love nature, and I like that you can see the difference.

S: Yes! We’re so lucky to have this park—it’s a gift. When you first visited, did you ever think you’d one day be an apprentice for the park?
• V: No, because when my mom told me I could, it really hit me. I didn’t expect it at all. It was too big for me to dream!

S: I remember sitting down with Sam [Wynns] and creating the apprentice program with her. I think we were just as excited to have you as one of the first apprentices! Which volunteer positions do you serve as an apprentice at the park?
• V: I volunteer in a couple of different places. I mainly volunteer with the wonderful Miss Ranger Lonie and Weed Warriors. And then—are the field notes considered as a volunteer role?

S: They sure do!
• V: So, then field notes as well. I also check on the Shaw’s Agave and help water one of the plantings at the park. I love the Shaw’s Agave so much because I’ve seen them grow, and it’s incredible to watch. I see the growth of everything around them and then see how slowly [the Shaw’s Agave] grow. I’m sad because the Shaw’s Agave were flowering when the park was open, and they’ll probably be dead when the park opens back up.

S: I had that same thought, too! I know they don’t flower for long, and I’m also bummed we’re missing it. It’s probably definitely not a fair tradeoff, but I also think of all the other great wildflowers that are blooming!
• V: That’s true!

S: Do you volunteer outside the park, as well?
• V: Yes. Me and my family are the official craft people every first Tuesday at the Ronald McDonald house. There’s a craft table so that kids can do a craft while the parents have some time to defrost. For St. Patrick’s Day we make something green. For the Fourth of July, we make flags. We’ll set out strips of paper, and you can decorate it for your own country. For Cinco de Mayo, we always make maracas, I think. So, we try and blend it to what’s happening at that time of the year. Originally, it was all my brother’s idea. When I was in the hospital, he came over with my mom and said, “why is everyone volunteering so happy?” So, he wanted to volunteer, too. I would like to do more there, but I’m not sixteen. So, I’m not allowed to do much else yet. Rules are rules.

S: Tell me your favorite craft so far.
• V: It was my brother’s birthday. Instead of forfeiting his volunteer time, he said “yeah, let’s go volunteer!” He got to decide what the craft was going to be: paper airplanes. It was incredible to see how many different styles people had. They were racing them, and everyone was having so much fun. I made an airplane, but I do not think it was very successful.

S: That’s ok, as long as you were having fun! Mine always come out square-shaped, and as soon as I throw them, they loop right around and bonk me on the nose. Ok, tell me your proudest personal moment at Cabrillo.
• V: Finishing my scientific poster. I was just so impressed. I saved multiple versions of it on my desktop as I was working on it. I looked at the first one and then the final product and I just thought, “me and my family and Sam [Wynns] and you—we all did it! We finished it!”

S: Violette, I know you worked so hard on it! Can you tell us what subject the poster covered?
• V: Ecologik! Mainly two of its lessons—ocean acidification and plant adaptations.

S: Excellent, I can’t wait to see it in person. What has been your favorite memory at the park?
• V: The day after Christmas, where I got to spend the whole day at the park with you. I had so much fun.

S: Honestly, Violette, that was my favorite day at the park, too! I think that was the first time we visited the Lighthouse garden and snacked on the kale!
• V: I think so too!

S: Ok, if you were the Superintendent of the park for one day, what would be your first and last action item?
• V: I would visit the brown-footed woodrats. They live in the Shaw’s Agave, don’t they? I would go and visit them. My last action item? I would go and visit the Shaw’s Agave. And I’d take you with me.

S: I love it! I have a crazy hunch that you’ve already answered this: what’s your favorite spot at the park?
• V: The Shaw’s Agave!

S: How did I know?! Ok, walk us through a typical day of volunteering for you.
• V: I say “hi” and give everyone in the office a hug. I get my radio and schedule. I meet Ranger Lonie and work with her for an hour doing invasive plant removal—nasty creatures!

S: I see Ranger Lonie has trained you well.
• V: We pull weeds until it’s time to go, and then we usually record what we did on an excel sheet: how many plants we gathered, what types of plants, and how many trashcans we filled. Then, you and me make a visit to the beloved Shaw’s Agave. We’ll also get a snack from the garden and get a piece of kale. While we enjoy that, we fill up our buckets with water and go around and water the Shaw’s Agave. Two rounds for each. Then, I take a picture of one of the Shaw’s Agave plots, which is quite an adventure. I love how distinct their features are. You can mistake different types of grasses, but you can’t mistake a Shaw’s Agave when you see it!

S: What changes have you seen since you started volunteering at the park?
• V: Ranger Lonie has trained me well. I’m always looking for invasive species. I’ve also seen a lot of curiosity in people. One time, a little girl and her parents noticed Ranger Lonie and I do invasive species removal in the bushes, and when the girl asked what I was doing, I heard the mom say, “she’s a Junior Ranger!”

S: I bet that felt good to hear. If you could publish a book about Cabrillo National Monument, what would you publish?
• V: I’ve decided this a while ago. If I could write a book, I would make a book just about the invasive plant species of the park. I would list them, talk about where they came from, and explain why they’re invasive.

S: What a great idea, Violette! Ok, here’s a big of a gear change. What’s your first memory in the outdoors?
• V: Well, I don’t know why I live in San Diego, because I cannot stand the heat. I am currently melting, and it’s only 70 degrees outside. I want to live in the mountains, where there are all four seasons. So, it makes that my first memory is in the snow. I don’t remember the exact location, but I remember being with my grandparents, mom, dad and brother. There was enough snow to make a snowman, and I remember putting the carrot in.

S: What is something most people don’t know about you that you wouldn’t mind sharing?
• V: I’m writing a book! I’m writing a continuation on the book Heide, even though there are already two official sequels already published. I’m just having fun writing nonsense.

S: If you could become a pro or semi-pro at anything, what would you pick?
• V: A magician! I love magic.

S: What would be your stage name?
• V: Amsterdam. It’s a word circle! It doesn’t read the same front and back, but still kind of magical!

S: Who has been the most influential person in your life?
• V: Lonie. Every week, I look forward to coming to Cabrillo and it’s such a magical place. And thanks to Lonie, I get to help take care of that place. Without her, I wouldn’t have all the knowledge that I have now about Cabrillo and its plants. Because of Lonie being so wonderful, I now know why I’m going to college and what job I’m going to have in life.

S: If you could tell one thing to a group of adults, what would you say?
• V: Not to carve on the Shaw’s Agave! And to encourage people to go out into nature.

S: ready for the lightning round? Sunset or sunrise?
• V: Sunrise.

S: cake or pie?
• V: Pie. My grandma makes a beautiful peach cobbler.

S: Ideal weather?
• V: 53 degrees! Windy.

S: Favorite city in the world.
• V: Munich, Germany.

S: Would you rather be able to speak every language in the world or be able to speak to animals?
• V: Animals. I’d talk to ants first.

S: Favorite childhood book?
• V: Anne of Green Gables. But I’m still in my childhood, so…

S: Good catch! Least favorite flavor?
• V: American cheese.

S: If you could live in a movie, which movie would you pick?
• V: “Anne of Green Gables.” Kevin Sullivan edition.

-End of Interview-
*some text has been altered during transcription.

VIP Violette watering the Shaw’s Agave at Whale Watch Overlook.
VIP Violette taking photos of the Shaw’s Agave plots.

We love having Violette around, and we’re so proud of all the work she has put into her capstone project and field notes. If you’d like to read her park field notes, we’ve included them below!
Cuckoo-Spit Spittlebug Froghoppers sighted at Cabrillo National Monument!
Excuse Me, What Do You Keep in Your Gular Pouch?

Would you like to be interviewed for a VIP Spotlight, too? Let us know by emailing us at We’d love to hear from you!

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