Native Olympia Oyster Education Program

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In April 2013, Coastkeeper began the first K-12 educational activities associated with native Olympia oyster restoration in Alamitos Bay. The goal of this program is to provide an opportunity for local K-12 students to participate in in-class lessons and field trips to the Jack Dunster Marine Reserve in Alamitos Bay. Students take part in hands-on scientific activities, which engage these future environmental stewards to get excited about science and become involved with the project in the long-term. In spring 2013, over 500 students from three different schools participated in a pilot education program, and over 280 students also participated in a day field trip to Jack Dunster to explore the diversity of life and interactions among different species in a wetland ecosystem. Students performed water quality testing, compared biodiversity and species abundance on a mudflat and oyster bed, and learned about the numerous plant, bird, and animal species that inhabit the salt marsh and coastal scrub habitat.

Participating Schools To-Date:

We look forward to continuing this program this summer and next fall as we continue to help carry out the second phase of oyster restoration on June 28, 2013. If you wish to participate in these programs, please contact Amanda Bird at Amanda@coastkeeper.org!

Education Program Overview

Goals

  • To provide field-based STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) education regarding a real local environmental issue
  • To increase environmental literacy through the study of local coastal issues
  • To foster in our students environmental stewardship and community involvement
  • To encourage students to explore science-related career opportunities
  • To promote sustainable restoration and conservation activities through an educated and concerned public

Activities

  • A Coastkeeper marine biologist will visit each class for a short presentation to introduce ecological concepts and fun facts about oysters prior to the field trip. Students participate in a one-day field trip to the Jack Dunster Marine Reserve to work with project scientists and carry out their own scientific experiments, including measuring water quality, learning about filter feeding organisms and demonstrating coastal ecological processes.
  • Students will complete a worksheet during the field trip to take home for teachers to assess student performance.
  • Coastkeeper will update our website with program photos and descriptions so students can share the experience with friends and family.
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Students identifying species Students learning about the native salt marsh and coastal scrub habitat Grady from Los Cerritos Wetlands Stewards giving an intro
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Sifting organisms out of the mud! Getting ready to build shell strings to help recruit oysters in the bay! A finished shell string product

Need

Natural resource conservation is a major issue in today’s society, especially in highly urbanized areas like Orange County. Restoration projects abound as numerous marine habitats and species are negatively impacted by human activities, particularly on land. Public education and concern is vital to the success of such projects, and the need for future environmental stewards is even more important. Unfortunately, most schools in the region lack the resources to bring this type of real-world environmental education to their students. Coastkeeper aims to continue our effort to provide students with hands-on science education that connects classroom curriculum to natural resource conservation issues in their community using local restoration projects to provide much needed hands-on experiences.

Audience Served

The native Olympia oyster restoration project, which is located in Alamitos Bay in Long Beach, CA provides a unique opportunity for local K-12 students to participate in a local conservation project, one that they can become involved in for many years. In addition, there is a particular need for STEM programs (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) in California schools. This project will incorporate aspects of each of these fields of study in a way that is fun and exciting for students, while teaching a comprehensive curriculum based on California Science Standards and Next Generation Science Standards that will build upon concepts taught in the science classroom. For this reason, Coastkeeper focuses on the following audience:

  • K-12 students: Classes include – biology, chemistry, mathematics, earth science, AP Environmental Science, marine science, junior high science, AVID, Special Education, English language development
  • Students who are interested in pursuing careers in an environmental field
  • Anyone wishing to fulfill their need to help save the environment in any way possible!

Funding

The native Olympia oyster restoration project has been funded in whole by the NOAA Habitat Restoration Center and the State Coastal Conservancy, in partnership with CSU FullertonCSU Long Beach, and KZO Education. Support directly funds buses, materials, and the organization of lessons and field trips for students at no cost to the schools or teachers.

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