Ocean Connectors Habitat Restoration Program at Otay River

With a $5000 grant from Woodard & Curran Foundation, Ocean Connectors successfully provided 668 National City elementary students with free habitat restoration field trips to the San Diego Bay National Wildlife Refuge (NWR). Ocean Connectors students conducted a targeted habitat restoration program around the banks of the Otay River, which is in the 87th percentile for polluted water bodies statewide (2013). Their actions directly contributed to the protection, enhancement, and long-term sustainability of our region’s water resources. The audience received bilingual STEAM instruction both in-class and in the field to gain a firsthand understanding of watershed health.

Ocean Connectors is a project of The Ocean Foundation based in San Diego, California, dedicated to using STEAM to teach underserved youth about migratory marine life, water conservation, and environmental stewardship both in-class and in the field. Ocean Connectors gives urban schoolchildren an opportunity to learn about watershed health, water scarcity and water quality issues, and where local drinking water comes from. Participants are engaged firsthand in community-based habitat restoration around the Otay River within the San Diego Bay National Wildlife Refuge. Ocean Connectors is a grassroots program that relies on a strong network of partners to complete their mission, including the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS), Unified Port of San Diego, and National School District.


| Provided over 100 class presentations in National City School
  District – a region adjacent to the San Diego Bay National
  Wildlife Refuge (NWR)
| Provided a total of 2,146 National City elementary students
  with free coastal trips (encompassing the entire School District
  in grades four to six, ten Title I schools)
| 668 sixth grade students, 20 parents, and 23 teachers attended
  habitat restoration field trips to the San Diego Bay NWR
| Conducted 23 habitat restoration outings at the San Diego Bay
  NWR, adjacent to the Otay River



  • | Students and parents planted 874 native plants (20% more than
      the original goal!), removed 70 pounds of litter and 16.2 cubic
      yards of weeds, and applied 3,594 pounds of mulch within the
      San Diego Bay NWR
  • | Realized a 96% program satisfaction rating from teachers who
      were engaged in the programs
  • | Students realized a 75% gain in knowledge of conservation,
      environmental science, and the environment
  • | Students realized a 35% improvement in conservation behaviors

Ocean Connectors and Woodard & Curran Foundation share a commitment to connecting youth with nature and inspiring the next generation of conservation stewards. Using a canvas of coastal open space, and through the lens of the wildlife that inhabits these areas, the Ocean Connectors programs engaged young people in hands-on, authentic outdoor learning experiences.


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