It's official: Santa Catalina is an Ocean Guardian School once more.
The Ocean Guardian program, funded by NOAA's Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, empowers schools to come up with projects that make a difference in the health and protection of their local watershed and ocean—in Catalina's case, the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary.
Science teachers Kelly Miller in the Lower and Middle School and Lisa Marrack in the Upper School applied for and received a $4,000 grant at the beginning of the school year. The funds went toward students' efforts to reduce plastic use, restore local dunes, and research plastic pollution in the marine ecosystem.
Led mostly by sixth-graders, activities in the Lower and Middle School included:
- Three beach cleanups.
- Picking up trash on campus.
- Adding a recycling bin to the lunch line.
- Restoring local dunes. Students pulled 15 cubic feet of ice plant and replaced them with native species they grew in the greenhouse on campus. Students grew nearly 300 seedlings: 130 beach sagewort, 150 dune buckwheat, 10 beach primrose, and seven mock heather. They planted about 200 seedlings themselves, and gave the rest to other groups to plant.
- Handing out 100 reusable water bottles, 38 coffee mugs, 40 metal straws, and 65 cloth sandwich/snack bags made by students (above).
- Visiting PreK-grade 5 classrooms to teach students about ways to reduce their use of plastics.
- A plastic audit at lunch. On three days in November, sixth-graders surveyed the number of plastic bags, beverage bottles, straws, individually wrapped snacks, plastic utensils, plastic cups, and drinks in students' lunches. After their education campaign, they did another survey in February and found a dramatic drop in the number of individually wrapped snacks and straws.
Catalina was last named an Ocean Guardian School in the 2013-14 school year. That year, the school was able to put in the first water filtration systems that support students' use of reusable water bottles. Santa Catalina is proud to continue efforts that make campus, and the community, more green.
The environmental club presented at the Monterey Bay Aquarium's Ocean Plastic Pollution Summit.