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December 3, 2011 (Santee) -- On a warm fall afternoon, students from the Point Loma Nazarene University (PLNU) drove through the gates of Santee Lakes Recreation Preserve to help with a very special project – the Wood Duck Nesting Project. This project rehabilitates nesting homes for the native Wood Duck population ‐ PLNU has volunteered to participate in this project for the past four years.
Santee Lakes has 50 Wood Duck Boxes throughout the 194 acre park and the partnership with Point Loma not only helps the park but provides PLNU students with community service credits, a necessary component for their grade. Wood ducks are revered by some as one of the most beautiful ducks in North America which were at one time nearly extinct from hunting and habitat lost. Santee Lakes is now one of the largest home of Wood Ducks in Southern California.
It’s a scavenger hunt to locate the boxes as they are placed in quiet off path locations for the nesting birds. Students work together to clean the boxes, clearing out old feathers, broken egg shells, and replacing woodchip bedding. “An average of 10 boxes are built, cleaned and/or replaced per year” says Greg Even, Park and Recreation Coordinator. “We lose the homes to bees, weather and general wear and tear.”
“This service project was nothing like I had expected,” states Maggie Jacobs a Point Loma Nazarene Student. “In my mind I pictured a chicken coop, and I thought I might have to wrestle with some ducks similar to a scene in ‘Napoleon Dynamite’.”
The group of students worked approximately two hours on the project but the memories will last a lifetime. “I feel like I gained the satisfaction of doing something that was directly helping nature,” student Jessie Tibbs said. Kinsey Libby added, “Cleaning out the Wood Duck Boxes was a fun experience. I didn’t have many expectations going into the project but coming away from it, I appreciate the work that was done.”
Volunteer opportunities are available year round. Wood Duck boxes are just one of many experiences students, residents and the community have to participate in projects at Santee Lakes. “We have had the Boy Scouts, Rotary, Lions, Kiwanis and many other clubs come and support the Lakes,” Even states. “We are here for the community and the community is here for us.”

For more information on volunteer opportunities, contact Santee Lakes Recreation Preserve at 619‐596‐3141 or visit

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