Byrne Preserve species study

Farida Abdelhak spent a month studying invasive species in Byrne Preserve this summer.

If you strolled through Los Altos Hills’ Byrne Preserve this summer, you may have stumbled across Los Altos High School sophomore Farida Abdelhak at work alongside a trail. The Los Altos resident spent part of her break identifying invasive species for a research project studying the impact of walking trails in local preserves.

She told a roving reporter who passed by that volunteering in the preserve to remove invasive plants spurred her interest, particularly as she learned about visitors potentially introducing contaminants – like Sudden Oak Death – and foreign seeds on their shoes.

“With all the merits the trails bring us, we sometimes fail to look at their downfalls,” she said. “I hope my research can shine a light on the impact of the trails and possibly spark a push for less distributive trails and education on how we as a community can protect our preserves.”

Abdelhak added, “As a kid, I didn’t spend much time in nature since nature-related activities weren’t popular in Egypt, where I grew up. Despite this, I was always fascinated by nature, whether it was a flower in the park or the way the Nile river flowed when I went on boat rides.” She credited a school visit to Yosemite with catalyzing that interest once she moved here.

Did your household host a summer inquiry or creative project worth sharing? Email reporter Eliza Ridgeway with the details at



Eliza Ridgeway edits the Food & Wine, Camps, Bridal, Celebrations and Beyond the Classroom sections at the Town Crier, as well as reporting for all sections of the paper.