Ocean Connectors: Bird & Habitat Study - National City, CA

by Ocean Connectors
Activity Type: Hiking, Stewardship
Region: Pacific West

Ocean Connectors will engage 100 underserved urban schoolchildren in community-based habitat restoration on public land.

$300 Raised out of $3,000
2 Funders
0 Days Remaining

Please describe your project in more detail.

The mission of Ocean Connectors is to use migratory marine life to educate, inspire, and connect underserved youth with the coastal environment. Participants learn to reduce coastal pollution, improve water quality, and assist with the recovery of native wildlife and habitats through a full classroom curriculum and habitat restoration field trips. Ocean Connectors is a project of The Ocean Foundation.

Ocean Connectors participants conduct targeted restoration efforts over two acres of coastal wetland, river, and upland habitats in the San Diego Bay National Wildlife Refuge. They install native plants, and perform litter and invasive plant removal to improve water quality and ecosystem health, under guidance from Ocean Connectors instructors and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service park rangers. 

Objectives of the program include:
Perform 100% litter abatement and invasive plant removal over two acres of coastal habitat to reduce coastal pollution and improve the habitat space for wildlife and recreation.
Install native plants along river corridor, upland, and coastal wetland habitats. 
Engage 100 low-income students from grades 4-6 in National City in learning about conservation, native and migratory wildlife, and habitat protection. 
Increase the audience’s knowledge of environmental stewardship and sustainability by 30%.
Achieve 95% satisfaction rating among participating elementary school teachers.

The audience for this project is located in National City, a disadvantaged industrial waterfront community that neighbors the restoration site and has less than 5% access to parks and greenspace (SANDAG 2010). National City is in the top ten percent of zip-codes statewide for combined impacts of pollution and population vulnerabilities (CA Office of Environmental Health 2013). The restoration component is accompanied by a sixth grade bilingual educational curriculum focused on migratory birds, habitat loss, and climate change. This ensures that the project goes beyond short-term outcomes to promote long-term environmental awareness, stewardship, and coastal access for the entire South San Diego Bay.

During field trips, students conduct habitat restoration alongside the Bayshore Bikeway, a recreational multi-use pathway being created in collaboration with multiple city governments in San Diego County. The path, which is still under development, will soon extend from within the National Wildlife Refuge 24 miles north around all of San Diego Bay, to enhance coastal access in areas where it’s needed most, such as National City. Ocean Connectors introduces students to this local natural treasure and encourages them to return with their families to engage in outdoor physical activity.

The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) provides ongoing management and supervision of the habitat restoration site, and they are a key partner and supporter of this project. All long-term maintenance, including watering, future planting, and weed and litter abatement, is coordinated and supervised by FWS park rangers, who provide year-round habitat improvements and mentorship for the student audience. FWS is an active partner in designing and leading the development of the Ocean Connectors educational resources, materials, and field trips.

How many kids (grades K-8) will be directly engaged in this project?

100

What is the name or school district associated with the project?

National City School District