In 2016, Web of Life Field (WOLF) School’s student-led beach clean-up efforts removed over 100 pounds of trash and recyclables from Natural Bridges State Beach, and in 2017 they set out to double that…And they did! The numbers are in, and in 2017 WOLF School removed over 200 pounds of waste from the iconic westside Santa Cruz beach.
Making this impact possible were the 1,025 student and teacher volunteers from 14 California schools who participated in the beach clean-ups during their week-long, residential outdoor science school program with WOLF School. The beach clean-ups are an add-on field trip to the classic 5th and 6th grade science camp experience offered by WOLF School, but often end up being one of the most memorable parts of camp for students. Serving predominantly urban-based schools from throughout central California, WOLF School’s beach clean-ups often mark the first trip to the beach and first time seeing the ocean for many students.
“How do you tell a 5th grader to protect our oceans, if they have never even been to the beach?” poses WOLF School Program Coordinator Sergio Typhoon. “Our goal is to build a connection between students and the world around them, under the belief that people are more inclined to protect what they know. A day at the beach is more than a fun day for kids (although it certainly is that!), it can also be the beginning of a lifelong journey towards becoming a global steward.”
Throughout their programs, WOLF School advocates a respect for nature and teaches students their own ability to incorporate simple yet impactful acts of stewardship within their communities. For years WOLF School has led field trips from their Santa Cruz-area campus, Camp Monte Toyon in Aptos, CA, to Natural Bridges State Beach in Santa Cruz, CA during which WOLF School naturalists educate students on environmental stewardship within our public lands through litter pick-up, dune restoration, and weeding of invasive species. Wanting to show students the greater impact their day at the beach was having on environmental stewardship at the community and global level, WOLF School joined Save Our Shores’ Sanctuary Stewards program in the spring of 2016. Through this collaboration, WOLF School began cataloging the marine debris they and their student volunteers removed from Natural Bridges during official Save Our Shore beach clean-ups, contributing to scientific data on the hundreds of pounds of trash and recyclables removed from the beaches within the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary each year.
Armed with gloves, buckets, and trash pickers during their 2017 spring and fall seasons, WOLF School and its student campers picked up 184 pounds of trash and 27.25 pounds of recyclables from Natural Bridges for a total of 211.25 pounds removed. Adding to this waste, was 1,349 pieces of plastic, 230 pieces of styrofoam, 376 cigarette butts, and 300 pieces of glass.
“That is a huge impact, and this larger goal is achieved through all the little contributions from every person that participated,” says Typhoon. “Thank you all for helping to clean and protect the earth, and make it a better place for all forms of life! I hope to keep up this positive work in 2018!”