Leading a Lifetime of Ocean Stewardship

Did you know that there’s seaweed in ice cream? Our young environmentalists in our Watershed Action – Ocean Stewards program were amazed to discover how many tasty treats and important everyday items have ingredients that come from the ocean. But seaweed isn’t the only thing the ocean provides for us! 

With the support of the Whale Tail Grants Program, KIDS for the BAY (KftB) has empowered hundreds of Richmond students and families to lead a lifetime of watershed and ocean stewardship. Last school year, students from four Richmond schools learned about our oceans, what the ocean provides for people and wildlife, and the importance of caring for the marine ecosystems we all depend on. Students from Michelle Obama, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (King), Montalvin, and Ford elementary schools engaged in watershed and ocean explorations lessons, enjoyed ocean beach field trips, and prepared school presentations to share their newfound knowledge. 

Inspiring a Community of Ocean Stewards

After increasing their ocean literacy, our young environmentalists began preparing presentations to share what they learned, and to inspire their school peers and family members to also become ocean stewards. 

“Even though I am nervous about speaking in front of other students, it is so important to tell others this information. I hope the audience cuts down on their plastic use after our performance!” 
Martin, Fifth Grade Student, King Elementary School, Richmond. 

At Montalvin Elementary, the second grade team, the sixth grade team, and families joined the fifth graders’ presentation and enthusiastically showed their support. Christopher, a KftB program alumni said, “I remember learning about the Five Rs (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Rot and Refuse) and how important they are! It’s so great to see the new fifth graders also learning and teaching this information!” 

Each student personalized their performance by educating their peers and families about a marine organism they researched. “I researched jellyfish! Did you know they were around before the dinosaurs?” asked Halley. “Orcas are highly intelligent animals that hunt together to catch their prey,” Marisol shared. As the performance drew to a close, students invited their families to accompany them on their upcoming ocean beach field trips. “We will have the chance to go on our ocean field trip a second time with a family member, where we will teach you more about what we learned! We hope you can join and become environmentalists like us!” exclaimed the fifth graders. 

Unique Discoveries at Rodeo Beach

An exploration of the Rodeo Beach shoreline opened Ford Elementary fifth graders’ eyes and minds to the wonders of the natural world. “Look at this huge crab claw I found! I wonder where the rest of the crab is,” said Malachi. Breno hypothesized, “Maybe a predator got to it and different animals broke it apart.” “I know this is a blue mussel, and I think it has two other types of animals growing on it,” said Kayla, fascinated by the commensal relationships thriving on the mussel shell. “This is so cool!” 

Students from Montalvin Elementary learned about different plants they encountered on a cliff walk at Rodeo Beach including our state flower, the California poppy. Two beautiful deer greeted our young scientists as they rounded a corner in the trail, sparking their curiosity. De’onnie noticed, “They are eating the grass!” “They are consumers, and grass is a producer,” said Amaya, recalling her KftB food chain lessons. “This is the best field trip ever!” EJ exclaimed. 

During their family-accompanied field trip, students at Michelle Obama Elementary couldn’t wait to take over as the teachers! Hallie volunteered to lead an introduction to using the binoculars for a bird watching activity at Rodeo lagoon. With her guidance the group identified white and brown pelicans, cormorants, and snowy egrets. Recalling what she had learned about key organisms living in the lagoon on the first field trip, Audrey shared: “This is a special body of water because there are endangered frogs and salamanders that call this place home.” The parents were impressed, and challenged their students to explain the reasons for the population decline. “More and more people are coming here since these buildings were built for the war, so this makes the area of the habitat smaller,” explained Italy. Miranie added, “The storm drains and cars are also bringing more pollution to this area, making the water less healthy.” 

At Rodeo Beach, students also had the opportunity to lead their parents and guests in a beach cleanup. While collecting trash along the shoreline, from fishing lines to cigarette butts to microplastics, our young environmentalists educated their parents about plastic pollution, the threat it poses to marine life, and the methods by which trash can travel through storm drains and waterways to the open ocean. Environmental stewards and families from Montalvin collected a total of 126 pieces of trash. 

The KftB Watershed Action – Ocean Stewards program offered many first-time experiences for students and parents alike. Parents loved investigating new habitats with their young environmentalists, and students grew confident in their ability to educate others about the importance of caring for our local watersheds and the ocean. 

“This is an amazing opportunity. It’s so cool for the students to see all of these things. This is very special to be able to see and experience this as a parent as well.”
Fifth Grade Parent, Montalvin Manor K-8 School

KIDS for the BAY