As we teach our students about the human impacts on the environment, we make it an effort to focus less on the problem and more on the solutions. Through our education programs, it is our ultimate goal to empower them with the notion that their local environment is theirs to explore, enjoy, and protect.
Kids Ocean Day is an annual celebration and call to action for the protection of our oceans. Organizations from five counties – San Diego, Orange, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Humboldt – host students from their regions for this statewide event. In Orange County, 582 students from seven inland schools spent the day on the beach taking action against marine debris, sending a message to their communities, and “discovering the joy in nature” – this year’s theme.
While the theme for this year’s event was a remnant from 2020’s canceled event, it was even more fitting for this year when our students are reemerging from years of “Zoom school.” Due to the ongoing pandemic, students have been missing the benefits of hands-on field experiences and the overall sense of community that can be found on campus.
Before students join us at the beach, we host assemblies at each school to teach them about our oceans and the threats it faces. Students learn that we need to protect our oceans to have clean air to breathe, clean food to eat, and a clean place to have fun; they are taught about the impacts of plastic on marine wildlife, and how it gets there through the storm drain system. Most importantly, they are taught ways in which they can take action every day to protect our blue planet.
Upon arrival at the beach, students embark upon a beach cleanup. This provides them a direct opportunity to make a positive change on the issues brought up during our in-class assemblies.
In less than two hours, the students eagerly picked up 115 pounds of trash while tracking the types of trash found. Pieces of plastics wildly outnumbered all other types of trash found, with this ever-lasting material consisting of 70% of all trash found. While the event was held the day after Memorial Day, a busy beach-going weekend, 80% of marine debris is transported to our coasts from inland sources through the storm drain system.
After giving thanks to the beach, the students got into a carefully plotted formation in the sand to form the words “share joy.” While we receive so many ecosystem services from our ocean, our coastal habitats provide opportunities for meaningful and playful experiences that connect people to the environment. We hope that, above all else, the students that joined Kids Ocean Day experienced joy on our coastline and feel comfortable and welcomed to return.
After a three-year hiatus, the Coastkeeper staff was thrilled to host our future environmental stewards and create meaningful, lasting memories while relishing in the beauty and joy of our coast.
For more information on our Kids Ocean Day program, explore our website.