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Watershed Heroes – Actions Linking Education to Stewardship.

We believe every student can be a “Watershed Hero!”

Coastkeeper created WHALES to empower students across the county with the knowledge, skills, and resources to be heroes in their watershed!

This program introduces local students to watershed and ecological concepts through in-class exercises and field trips at no cost to schools. Since 2005, WHALES has reached thousands of junior high and high school students across Orange County.

Want to involve your school or class?


Coastkeeper offers free programs for science classes from Title I schools, and donation-based programs are available for non-Title I schools. Be advised that the WHALES program currently has a waitlist of teachers wanting to participate.

Coastkeeper now offers virtual in-class and field experiences for select field trip opportunities.

Contact Education Director Michaela Coats at 714-850-1965 ext. 1005 or to apply for a free or donation-based program.

Contact MichaelaContact Michaela

Student Voices

It was a better way of understanding things face-to-face and hands on.

We learned a lot in class, but we could really see the impact through Orange County Coastkeeper.

I didn't know science could be this fun!

Teacher Perspectives

We have found the program to be extremely beneficial in helping our students understand the environment and make it come alive, especially our wetlands. Some of our students have never been to the beach, although it is less than 10 miles away.

AVID Teacher

Kids come up to me at the end of the year saying that they see the world in an entirely new way and will make lifelong changes based on the course, and WHALES is a huge part of that awakening.

AP Environmental Science Teacher

WHALES allows students to meet people whose job is to protect the environment, experience the work for themselves, and make a difference in our community. They are given a rare opportunity to learn meaningful content outside the walls of the classroom.

AP Environmental Science Teacher

I brought ELDA students — students who had been in this country less than a year. Almost every experience was new to them and educational. Our students had a terrific day. They learned a great deal, but even more than that, they had their eyes opened to all sorts of possibilities that might not have otherwise occurred to them.

English Language Development Science Teacher

All activities were engaging and informative. Running small groups made for wonderful connection between presenter and students. My students felt safe to ask questions, are interested in learning more. So many of my students have come back to school telling their different teachers what they saw, touched, and learned.

Special Education Science Teacher
Explore the field trip locations and activities offered by our WHALES program!
Experience a Marine Life Inventory field trip first-hand!

Our Sponsors

  • United States Environmental Protection Agency
  • Coastal Quest
  • National Fish and Wildlife Foundation
  • California Environmental Protection Agency
  • California State Parks
  • Moulton Niguel Water District
  • Boeing
  • Draper Family Foundation
  • Swayne Family Foundation
  • Rose Foundation
  • Western Digital

This program is funded by the Outdoor Equity Grants Program, created through AB 209 and administered by California State Parks, Office of Grants and Local Services.