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Orange County Student Assessments Show Increased Knowledge of Watershed Science

Future generations learn the importance of protecting waters through Coastkeeper’s WHALES program

ORANGE COUNTY, September 16, 2015 – Stellar worksheet scores prove the effectiveness of Orange County Coastkeeper’s WHALES program. Each year, Coastkeeper designs lessons and worksheets that both teach and evaluate student knowledge of watershed science. Across all levels, WHALES students score an average of 85 percent on these worksheets that assess their understanding of watershed science and human impacts on local waters and habitats.

“Students find themselves engaging with their local environment by conducting water quality tests at local creeks, touring water treatment plants and participating in habitat restoration, just to name a few of the hands-on experiences the students have available to them,” says Dyana Peña, education director for Orange County Coastkeeper. “It is a win-win because informed students have the capacity to make real changes in the community today and for the future of our increasingly delicate coastal area.”

WHALES, which stands for Watershed Heroes: Actions Linking Education to Stewardship, offers Orange County junior high and high school students field-based science curriculum at no additional charge to schools. Since 2012, 2,000 students per year participated in the field excursions and in-class lessons presented by WHALES.

Motivated by a pattern of consistent growth, WHALES reaches a wider and more diverse audience each year. During the 2014-2015 school year, Coastkeeper worked with 32 teachers in 78 classes/groups from different levels and sub-categories of science. The Coastkeeper education staff completed 55 field trips and 27 in-class presentations to foster environmental stewardship and community involvement.

WHALES serves schools throughout Orange County and has recently expanded into South Orange County. In addition to typical science classes, Coastkeeper modifies the program for English Language Development classes and students with developmental and mental disabilities.

For more information about the WHALES program, please contact Orange County Coastkeeper at 714-850-1954 x 305 or


ORANGE COUNTY COASTKEEPER: Founded in 1999, the mission of Coastkeeper is to protect and promote sustainable water resources that are swimmable, drinkable, and fishable. Coastkeeper is a nonprofit clean water organization that serves as a proactive steward of our fresh- and saltwater ecosystems. We work collaboratively with diverse groups in the public and private sectors to achieve healthy, accessible, and sustainable water resources for the region. We implement innovative, effective programs in education, advocacy, restoration, research, enforcement, and conservation. For more information, visit ( or call 714-850-1965.