Our mission is to foster thriving and sustainable ecosystems in the Monterey Bay and surrounding habitats through equitable environmental action and youth education programs. With the help of 5,000 community members we have led over 200 cleanups that remove more than 45,000 pounds of trash from beaches, rivers, and open-spaces each year.
The data from cleanups sets the stage for local and statewide policy initiatives. Cleanups are also educational and serve as a first step in expanding awareness of pollution and the connection between ecosystems, wildlife, and community health.
In the 2022-23 academic year, we collaborated with 18 Santa Cruz County schools, reached 1,429 youth, and completed 41 marine conservation education programs. We build our youth education programs to ensure all youth can take part in outdoor education!
This year we launched our first after-school program, Junior Sanctuary Stewards to reduce barriers to coastal access and connect underserved youth to shoreline/marine ecosystems in hopes of inspiring them to become ocean stewards. So far, we have engaged four cohorts of students (120 youth total) in 15-weeks and built meaningful one-on-one mentoring relationships.
Evaluations from students surveyed indicate that during the program 75% felt happier and less stressed, 100% felt safe, 42% said they would not have visited most of the field trip locations otherwise, and 93% would recommend this program to peers.
At the end, participants are designated stewards and have opportunities to facilitate public education and outreach, serve as associate site cleanup captains, and be Youth Advisory Board members for future junior stewards! With your donation, we will continue to evolve this program.
The Youth Advisory Board was an incredible and unique team to be a part of, with passionate, committed members. The kids had an amazing time discovering the wildlife that inhabit this unique zone, and I really believe that our vision for JSS translated into reality, which is all we could ask for. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to be a part of creating such an important program.
Sydney C. Santa Cruz., Youth Advisory Board Member