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Scientific research is an invaluable tool in supporting environmental justice (EJ) in Orange County by helping stakeholders identify, understand, and mitigate the environmental challenges they face. Scientifically sound data can play a pivotal role in endorsing the change necessary to ensure all people live, work, and play in safe environments.

Coastkeeper collaborates with agencies, cities, and other non-profits to advocate for and advance EJ efforts in our communities. Whether it is raising public awareness, influencing policy, or uncovering sustainable solutions, Coastkeeper remains committed to addressing the numerous environmental injustices impacting Orange County communities.

Through our WHALES program, Coastkeeper offers local students opportunities to engage in meaningful scientific research throughout their watershed. From water chemistry testing to biodiversity surveys, students receive hands-on experience connecting concepts learned in the classroom to real-world environmental issues.

Last school year, Coastkeeper assisted students from Godinez High School in conducting ecological research at Upper Newport Bay Ecological Reserve thanks to funding received from the California EPA Environmental Justice Small Grants program. The purpose of this project was to not only support regional STEM education goals but also demonstrate to students how science can be leveraged to generate solutions to the environmental issues their communities face. Every group explored different ecological relationships and concepts, including:

  • benefits of riparian vegetation in improving the water quality of urban runoff
  • impacts of coastal development on bird biodiversity
  • how water quality impacts invertebrate biodiversity

Students additionally worked with Orange County Environmental Justice, who offered tangible examples of how research advanced EJ in their community through their various campaigns, such as addressing soil-lead contamination in Santa Ana or industrial stormwater pollution. Visit their website ( to learn more about their incredible work!

Whether that be from research, advocacy, communications, or art, Coastkeeper’s education programs’ ultimate goal is to empower local youth with the knowledge and tools to take action for healthy, sustainable communities. 

To learn more about environmental justice, visit

To explore the environmental health and safety of your community, visit