Coastkeeper Program Makes a WHALE of a Difference

Future generations learn the importance of protecting our waters through hands-on experiences

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Orange County Coastkeeper’s WHALES program gives school-age children a hands-on approach to learning about watershed science – the study of how ecosystems, landforms and soils, climate, water and human activities interact. Each year, WHALES students find themselves engaging with their local environment by conducting water quality tests at local creeks, touring water treatment plants and participating in habitat restoration.

Together, informed students and Orange County Coastkeeper staff make improvements in the community today and for the future.

Individualized Water Education Resulting in High Test Scores

WHALES, which stands for Watershed Heroes: Actions Linking Education to Stewardship, offers junior high and high school students throughout Orange County field-based science curriculum at no additional charge to schools. Since 2012, 2,000 students per year participated in the field excursions and in-class lessons presented by WHALES. 

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Coastkeeper designs lessons catered to each individual field trip and grade level and include worksheets that give students an opportunity to think critically and reflect on what they have learned. Across all levels, WHALES students score an average of 85 percent on these worksheets that assess their understanding of watershed science – proving that participants both absorb and enjoy the material. Stewardship, offers junior high and high school students throughout Orange County field-based science curriculum at no additional charge to schools.

The Future of WHALES

Motivated by a pattern of consistent growth, WHALES reaches a wider and more diverse audience each year.  During the 2014-2015 school year, Coastkeeper worked with 32 teachers in 78 classes/groups from different levels and sub-categories of science. The Coastkeeper education staff completed 55 field trips and 27 in-class presentations to foster environmental stewardship and community involvement.

WHALES serves schools throughout Orange County and has recently expanded into South Orange County – mostly located in low-income communities. In addition to typical science classes, Coastkeeper modifies the program for English Language Development classes and students with developmental and mental disabilities.

To learn more about the WHALES program, contact Orange County Coastkeeper at 714-850-1954 x 305 or dyana@coastkeeper.org.


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