Thursday, June 18, 2009

South Bay Chapter hosts Teach and Test program year-end party and presentations

On May 17th at SEA Lab in Redondo Beach, 30 students from four South Bay high schools participating in the Surfrider Foundation’s Teach and Test Program presented their results that reflect seven months of water quality testing at 13 local beaches. As part of the program, students from Westchester, El Segundo, Redondo and Torrance High, South, collected water samples every other Sunday and analyzed bacteria levels. The SEA Lab presentation and awards ceremony marked the end of the Teach and Test period for 2008-2009.

“Besides Styrofoam, we found a lot of food wrappers in the water,” said Michelle Pena, President of the Redondo Union High School Ecology Club. “These findings show that people are just lazy.”

In addition to trash on the beach, students studied the effects the Ballona Wetlands have on bacterial count reduction. The presentation included a slide show explaining the mechanisms within the wetland that attributed to the degradation of bacteria, which allowed a larger amount of clean water to enter the ocean.

One group of students presented their Teach and Test results in a public forum and interviewed local citizens about the beaches in their neighborhood. They offered solutions to water quality problems such as turning off automatic sprinklers to reduce excess run-off, disposing of cigarettes properly and using natural fertilizers.

Entering its fifth year, the Teach and Test program’s primary goal is to foster future environmental stewardship among students, create community awareness about local water quality, and provide realistic solutions to improve conditions. Surfrider Foundation South Bay Chapter volunteers mentor the students and the beach and provide guidance as they collect water samples. Back in the labs, local high school teachers guide the students through the analysis process. Since the inception of the Teach and Test program, six students have been accepted to science programs at their chosen universities and two current students won LA Science Fair awards. The majority of students will return next year, and are excited to participate with their fellow students and Surfrider volunteers.

Newport Aquarium Youth Volunteers: BWTF & Ocean Friendly Gardens

The water samples for the Newport Chapter’s BWTF program are analyzed at the Newport Aquarium by a group of Youth Volunteers. This is a symbiotic partnership that works well for both groups. In the past the youth volunteers have been pretty instrumental in getting the City of Newport to pay attention to the requests that the Chapter had been making, including tracking the source of pollution in the Nye Creek Watershed and recommendations for BMPs to address non-point sources.

This year the Youth Volunteers have continued to run the BWTF lab, and have also taken on a project to implement another Surfrider program, Ocean Friendly Gardens, at the Aquarium. It is great to see this group move beyond basic water testing and work on ways to improve water quality in their community.

With a little guidance from Oregon’s Field Coordinator, Charlie Plybon, the kids set out in October ‘08, met once a month, and produced the following goals:

1) Assess the Aquarium grounds for ocean friendly techniques
2) Educate the Aquarium visitors on ocean friendly garden and landscape techniques
3) Educate outside the Aquarium audience through online social networking
4) Maintain BWTF lab analysis

Here’s what they achieved during the seven-month project:

1) Worked with groundskeepers and landscape staff at the Aquarium to identify and improve upon ocean friendly techniques. Researched Surfrider Ocean Friendly Garden techniques and other LID approaches and best practices for water quality.
2) Created signage on the aquarium grounds to spotlight OFG techniques (see above). They put together 3 signs throughout the Aquarium grounds.
3) Developed an OFG poster and display with Surfrider OFG brochures.
4) Developed a powerpoint presentation to deliver to Aquarium visitors on their project and OFG techniques.
3) Developed a video:   
4) Continued water quality lab work throughout the winter for the local BWTF. Ran over 100 samples for local beaches and Nye watershed.
5) Gave a final public presentation.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Santa Monica High School Year End Event: Presenting Water Quality Data

The West Los Angeles/ Malibu Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation has teamed up with students from Santa Monica High School to raise awareness about water quality in the Santa Monica Bay. The students will hold a free “Teach & Test” event on June 11 to share the results of their yearlong study of the bay and discuss ways to clean up California’s beaches and shorelines.

The Teach & Test Program was established through grants from the West LA/Malibu chapter of the Surfrider Foundation and a number of public and private sponsors, including Jane Goodall’s Roots & Shoots organization. Aimed at inspiring change in the community and encouraging environmental awareness through hands-on laboratory experience, the program invited Santa Monica High School students to participate in a yearlong research project to study ocean water quality. The students collected water samples in the bay three times a day in order to measure the effect of urban runoff and pollution on water quality. Now at the end of their experiment, students will share their findings with peers and the public through presentations, special events and through global nonprofit networks like the Surfrider Foundation.

One of the most important aspects of any scientific study is communicating your results. Congrats to the West Los Angeles/ Malibu Chapter and the students at Santa Monica High School for hosting this community event.