W.H.A.L.E.S.: Watershed Heroes – Actions Linking Education to Stewardship.

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

That’s why Coastkeeper created W.H.A.L.E.S.: Watershed Heroes – Actions Linking Education to Stewardship.

The program introduces local students to watershed and ecological concepts through in-class exercises and field trips at no cost to schools. Since 2005, the WHALES Program has reached thousands of junior high and high school students across Orange County … and we’re still growing!

The WHALES Program has gone virtual! We have transitioned some of our more popular field trip experiences to an online format. Coastkeeper education staff are guest speakers and can provide virtual water quality labs, presentations, and virtual tours!

Want to involve your school or class?

Coastkeeper offers free programs for science classes from Title 1 schools. Donation-based programs are available for schools that are not Title 1. The WHALES program currently has a waiting list.

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

Visit our blog for field trip recaps!


“Costa Mesa High School environmental science students collect samples, data in the Back Bay” – Los Angeles Times, 04/03/2019
“Stingrays, sponges and snails teach Costa Mesa High students about coastal biodiversity” – Orange County Register, 04/03/2019
“Costa Mesa students go to class on the coast for a day” – Los Angeles Times, 03/18/2016
“Kids get a chance to be keepers of the coast” – OC Register, 10/18/2012
“San Onofre, Coastkeeper host kids” – San Clemente Patch, 10/18/2012

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

The WHALES Program

is made possible by our generous sponsors:

  • The Draper Family Foundation
  • Law Office of Jennifer F. Novak
  • San Diego Gas & Electric
  • The Green Foundation
  • Cruise Industries Charitable Foundation
  • The Annenberg Foundation
  • The Western Digital Foundation
  • Moulton Niguel Water District
  • Clyde F. Newton Trust Two