Showing posts with label youth. Show all posts
Showing posts with label youth. Show all posts

Monday, February 7, 2011

Santa Monica High School Press Release & Data Displays

The December 2010 rains in California brought the expected stormwater runoff and pollution to area beaches. The students of Santa Monica High School’s Teach and Test Ocean Water Quality Monitoring Program recorded high bacteria levels in their beach water samples and did their best to get the word out. They put together the below press release as well as continued to post their results using the "Safe to Surf" water quality boards they have posted at nearly a dozen local surf shops and other businesses. These students are doing a great job at keeping people talking about beach water pollution issues and raising the visibility of their water testing program in the local community.


December 23, 2010L

Swim at Your Own Risk!

By Zack Gold

Co-president, Heal the Bay Surfrider Club

Santa Monica High School 601 Pico Blvd. Santa Monica, CA 90405

Student Contact: Zachary Gold

Teacher Contact: Benjamin Kay

Three hours ago, student members of Santa Monica High School’s Teach and Test Ocean Water Quality Monitoring Program, sponsored by Surfrider Foundation, removed ocean samples from their classroom incubator to discover super high fecal bacteria levels at all three of their Santa Monica sites: Pico-Kenter and Santa Monica Pier storm drains as well as Lifeguard Station 26. Students collected the samples 24 hours earlier on Wednesday to determine the level of Enterococcus bacteria, a bacteria found in human and mammal feces, and one used as an indicator of ocean health and human risk by Los Angeles County.

The mean values of Enterococcus bacteria for Lifeguard Station 26, Pico-Kenter, and Santa Monica Pier ocean sites were 1193, 1414, and 2240 colony forming units per 100 mL, respectively. The state’s acceptable levels for Enterococcus colony forming units is 104. Thus, student data show the water quality is over 10 times worse than the state’s acceptable level, indicating very polluted water quality and an increased risk to beachgoers.

Zack Gold, co-president of the Heal the Bay Surfrider Club and student leader of the Teach and Test program explained, “The water quality results for bacteria from this week’s sampling were absolutely appalling. We should never have fecal indicator bacteria levels 10 times higher than the state's acceptable level. We know for sure that the chances of getting sick increase greatly when it rains, yet I saw lots of surfers at Lifeguard Station 26 and at Pico Kenter storm drain in the disgusting water. The trend in our data is pretty clear – about 10 months of good water quality during the dry season followed by spikes of Enterococcus in the wet season and with this heavy rain we definitely got a spike."

Benjamin Kay, Marine Biology teacher at Santa Monica High School and club advisor said: “It’s a plastic-laden bacterial soup out there. I checked out the surf at Santa Monica Beach this morning, and plastics were strewn all over the sand near the water. My students’ research confirmed why health officials say to stay out of the surf for 3 days after a rain. I gambled and surfed some very enticing waves, and now have a minor earache. Coincidence?”

Teach and Test students inform over 10 local surf shops and other businesses about their results on a weekly basis. Stores then post the results using their “safe to surf?” water quality boards that the students helped make and distribute with Surfrider Foundation.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Oceans 2030: Youth Outlook, A photo, video & artwork contest

Complete Online Submission Here.

Submission Deadline: November 22, 2010

Oceans 2030: Youth Outlook will provide a forum for youth to share their vision for our oceans over the next 20 years as part of the 11th National Conference: Our Changing Oceans organized by the National Council for Science and the Environment (NCSE).

The Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill is a stark reminder of our influence on the ocean, and it value to society and our economy. Oil spills are only one threat. Overfishing, habitat loss, pollution, invasive species, and overarching all of these, climate change will result in profound changes to our oceans and coasts over the next 20 years. Engaging today’s youth in creating solutions is vital, and will shape their futures and the world they inherit.

Oceans 2030 is a multimedia - photo, video, and art - contest. Winning entries in each media will be showcased at the Waves of Change Oceans Expo at the Our Changing Oceans Conference and published online in the Encyclopedia of Earth.


Photograph – digital photograph in high resolution in .jpg, .png or .gif file format
Video – short video (up to 5 minutes) uploaded via YouTube
Graphic Art – illustration or comic (up to 3 panels) in high resolution in .jpg, .png or .gif file format

Each submission must also include 200-300 words (.doc or .pdf file formats) outlining your vision for our oceans in 2030 and why?

Contestants aged 15-24 are allowed one entry which must be your own original work. The content should express personal perspectives and identify key issues and solutions. Submissions will be evaluated on originality, creativity, and relevance to the theme.

Inform your project by perusing the new Ocean Learning E-Resources Website. Each media category can include (but is not limited to) the following suggested topics:

Oceans and Climate
· Sea level rise
· Carbon storage
· Ocean acidification
· Health impacts
· Extreme weather

Marine Ecosystems
· Marine biodiversity
· Wetlands
· Coral reefs
· Deep sea
· Polar regions

Oceans and the Economy
· Fisheries
· Tourism
· Energy
· Pollution and waste
· Ecosystem services

Learn more about these topics, and get ideas for contest, at Ocean Learning E-Resources website.

Download a contest
flyer or the contest guidelines.

Complete Online Submission Form Here.

Submission Deadline: November 22, 201

Friday, July 23, 2010

Working Towards Solutions in Cannon Beach, Oregon

ALEX PAJUNAS — The Daily Astorian
Beachgoers wade or float back and forth across Ecola Creek in Cannon Beach. This year 11 Clatsop and Tillamook County beaches are being monitored for enterococcus, bacteria present in animal and human waste. More photos on the Web at
ALEX PAJUNAS — The Daily Astorian
Bathing seagulls freshen up near the beach in the waters of Ecola Creek Wednesday. Mark See, the Cannon Beach public works director, says DNA tests by the city indicate gulls are the main polluters of streams running over the beach.
Water monitoring comes ashore
Summer means it’s time to begin tracking beaches for contamination

The Daily Astorian

CANNON BEACH - Two health advisories issued for beaches in or near Cannon Beach this summer signal that the beach-monitoring season is under way.

This year, 25 of the state's 94 beaches are being monitored weekly, every two weeks or monthly for enterococcus, bacteria that is present in animal and human waste. It also indicates the presence of other bacteria.

Bacteria can enter the ocean, creeks, rivers and outflows from a variety of sources, including stormwater runoff, animal and seabird waste, failing septic systems, spills from sewage treatment plants or discharges from boats.

Of the 25 beaches slated for routine monitoring, 11 are in Clatsop and Tillamook counties.

While most of the beaches usually don't show high enough counts of bacteria to rate an advisory, the Ecola Court outflow pipe in midtown Cannon Beach garnered 12 advisories after 26 tests last year.

This year, so far, the percentage of good tests over bad is better: It failed only once - during April - in nine tests.

"Over the past few months, we've seen water quality at Ecola Court outfall improve," said Charlie Plybon, Oregon Field Manager for Surfrider Foundation. The foundation monitors water quality on beaches and has been critical of Cannon Beach's efforts to address the outfall area. Recently, however, the city and the foundation began working together to develop solutions.

But, Plybon added, "The area is still of concern until we can demonstrate this 'improved' water quality over time, and beachgoers are safe from advisories." Advisories are issued when more than 158 organisms of bacteria per 100 milliliters of water are found in the samples. The bacteria can cause gastroenteritis, skin rashes, upper respiratory infections and other illnesses.

State health officials warn people to avoid wading in creeks that have advisories and to stay clear of water runoff flowing into the ocean.

On April 5, the monitor for the state's testing system found 579 organisms at the outfall site. Two subsequent tests - on April 19 and May 3 - indicated the presence of organisms was significantly reduced, and state officials lifted the advisory.

The Hug Point advisory, issued June 29, was the first in nearly three years, when an advisory was posted for the south end of the cove on July 30, 2007. The advisory was lifted a week later.

Tolovana State Park hadn't been tested since Oct. 29, 2007, and at that time no organisms were detected. This year, however, an advisory was issued June 2 and lifted on June 9. A subsequent test on June 14 could not detect bacteria.

"Tolovana Park has been a relatively clean area over the years and it fell off the radar of the state's monitoring program for this reason," Plybon said.

The state took a sample from the area following a request from Surfrider, he said.

"In all honesty, that doesn't really tell us much other than we need to test more," Plybon added.

The federal Environmental Protection Agency has required 35 coastal and Great Lakes states and territories to monitor beaches since 2000. But because the $230,000 EPA grant isn't enough to cover all of Oregon's 94 recreational beaches, monitoring is done on the top 25 that have a high use, a history of pollution or are near potential pollution sources, said Jennifer Ketterman, Oregon beach program coordinator.

The state has learned that each beach has its own character and personality, Ketterman said. "What we find on the South Coast is different than what we find on the North Coast," she said.

Where the monitor collects the water sample depends on the size of the beach and whether one particular area has a history of a high bacteria count, Ketterman said. The Ecola Court outfall, for instance, has a history of higher-than-normal bacteria counts, so samples are taken at the pipe as water flows out and in the stream as it empties into the ocean. Monitors are particularly concerned about pipes that flow on the beach "because people are getting more water contact," she said.

Although the state receives funds to test the water, it doesn't have the money to investigate the source of bacteria when the tests fail.

"There are a variety of sources near the shore or inland," Ketterman said. "They could come from animals, seabirds, diapers, agricultural products, sewage treatment plants, septic tanks, boat disposals. It's a pretty complex process."

The problem is even more complex, she added, because the presence of bacteria can fluctuate wildly. "You can collect data one minute and it will be different the next minute," Ketterman said. That has been a frustration experienced by Mark See, Cannon Beach public works director. Because it takes time to get a test result the city isn't notified until the next day that a problem exists, he said. "We're getting a warning today about the tests yesterday.... We need real-time testing for a real-time warning." Cannon Beach is tested every Monday during the summer. If the test fails, more samples are taken on Wednesday and confirmed on Thursday. The public is notified on Friday.

"There's a real flaw in the testing program," See said.

Eventually, he said, "real-time" testing will be available so city officials and the public will know instantly that bacterium is in the water.

Recent DNA tests performed by the city indicate gulls are the main polluters to the streams on the beach, See said. He intends to send samples to an Oregon State University lab to confirm the source whenever Cannon Beach tests high. This will rule out other sources, such as a misconnected sewer line or illegal dumping.

See also hopes that, eventually, the city and Surfrider can take over testing Cannon Beach's water from the state so money will be freed up to test other coastal sites.

"My vision is that we want the Department of Human Services to do lots of testing for everyone if we agree to do our own testing," See said. The city's testing would be checked against Surfrider's tests for accuracy.

But, while the city can continue to monitor the water and take steps to remedy some pollution source, the public needs to get involved, too, See said.

The city's public works committee is drafting educational pamphlets, which will be distributed to local hotels and businesses. The pamphlets will discuss why water is tested, the risks of contacting untreated water and other facts involving water tests.

"When you do a lot of test sites in one place like Cannon Beach and one pops up bad and an advisory is issued, it sounds like there's an advisory for all of Cannon Beach," See said. "It affects business. The chamber of commerce has gotten involved, so we have a balance of all concerned parties."

The public works committee may also ask the City Council to prohibit people from feeding birds and other wild animals. The animals become used to the feeding and stay close to public areas, See said. Instead, they should be discouraged from roosting on roofs.

"You always see gulls on the roof tops and parking lots of the Surfsand, the Wayfarer and the American Legion building," he said. When they leave their waste on the roofs or asphalt and a summer rain occurs, "there's just enough rain to put a slurry of seagull poop into the drainage system."

Those buildings are also close to the stream that runs from the Ecola Court outfall, across the beach and to the ocean.

Other solutions may be found as well. Roof drains may be disconnected from the city's drainage system and put into "drainage swales" where the water is filtered through natural vegetation before being directed into the city's drainage pipes, See said. But drainage swales take up space, which is scarce in developed areas near the beach.

But See will experiment with another "pre-treatment" method when the restrooms on Second and Spruce streets are reconstructed later this year. He plans to build a "rain garden" that, much like the drainage swale, will act to filter out pollution from the building's roof before it goes into the city's system.

Although the contamination can be reduced, it will never be eliminated, See said.

"The truth is, there's fresh water everywhere. And there's still some chance that bacteria will get into that fresh water."

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Schools Out!

As school lets out for the summer, many of the BWTF water testing programs that are based in high schools also take a break. Both the West LA/Malibu and the South Bay Chapters recently held year-end events to celebrate another successful year of beach water testing. These events serve as a means to reward the students' participation, raise awareness in the community of their program and local water quality issues, and provide a venue for the students to present their water quality data. The West LA/Malibu BWTF program includes students at Santa Monica High School. The South Bay Chapter reaches students at El Segundo, Mira Costa, Redondo Union, South and Westchester High Schools through the SEA Lab at Redondo Beach. Congratulations to all the students!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Collecting Information on Ocean Illness in New Jersey

The Jersey Shore Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation has recently added an ocean illness form to their website to complement their BWTF water testing program. Joe Mairo, a Surfrider member and high school biology teacher that leads one of the Chapter's student run water testing programs, speaks to the local media about the new website and the chapter's experience with local incidences of illness caused by exposure to polluted water. Story below.

By MaryAnn Spoto/The Star-Ledger

April 20, 2010, 5:31PM

WRECK POND -- It started with a small cut on his right leg.
A day after he went surfing in Asbury Park, Joe Mairo’s leg began to swell. Two days later, he was in the hospital with a serious staph infection.
Although Mairo has no proof, he can’t help but wonder if the cloudy water in which he was surfing that October day last year caused his infection.
For decades, surfers like Mairo have long suspected they’ve contracted all kinds of illnesses from their exposure to high levels of fecal coliform. Now they want to document their experiences on the internet to try to prove their theory.
"I remember sitting in the water and thinking ‘this is gross,’" the 32-year-old Bradley Beach resident said. "All those variables are out there for what I had, so it makes me a little unsure. (But) there are other cases where it’s really clear-cut."
Mairo said he can’t definitively link his illness — which turned out to be a MRSA infection — to the ocean water because he worked out at the same high school gym where wrestlers also had the methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus infection.
But Mairo, a biology and environmental science teacher at Wall Township High School, said some of his students have had more convincing cases, including ear infections or nausea almost immediately after surfing.
As part of the class curriculum, Mairo and his students conduct water-quality testing on samples taken from the ocean in Sea Girt and Spring Lake near an outfall pipe that flows from nearby Wreck Pond. The pond has had so many instances of high levels of fecal coliform that the state Department of Environmental Protection automatically closes beaches near the pond in the summer after heavy rainfalls as a precaution.
The students’ testing, conducted during the months the local health departments don’t test, occasionally have shown high levels of the bacteria.
"We definitely see when water temperatures are up and we get a rain, the bacteria levels are high," he said.
So Mairo suggested the Surfrider Foundation, of which he is a member, start a website at to collect the experiences of surfers and other people who suspect they’ve gotten sick from exposure to high fecal coliform levels.
With the website, the group will be able to determine whether any patterns emerge and present the evidence to state and local officials, said John Weber, the foundation’s East Coast regional manager.
To weed out phony stories, the donors have to identify themselves and be willing to testify to their experiences, Mairo said.
Weber said the advocacy group has heard anecdotes for years about surfers’ illnesses, from sore throats to ear infections and even worse, but noted there haven’t been any attempts to document them
"State and local health departments aren’t collecting it, so the (New Jersey) chapter is going to,’’ he said.

Friday, April 16, 2010

SAMOHI's Team Marine Students win Ocean Hero Award in Sancramento

Congratulations to the Team Marine students for a job well done educating their peers, community and political leaders on the importance of water and environmental issues. Team Marine participates in the West LA/Malibu Surfrider Chapter's Teach & Test Program. The following story describes their Ocean Hero Award and their field trip to the State Capitol.

On April 5th, during Spring Break, nine students on Santa Monica High School's Team Marine (Melanie Delia, Valerie Wacker, Megan Kilroy, Eileen Flores, Devany Garcia, Danny Franco, Raphael Mawrence, Jacob Hassett, Kou Collins) traveled by van to Sacramento to be part of Ocean Day at the California State Capitol Building on March 6. Representing the youth, the students met with various assembly members, senators, and staff to support different bills that would reduce plastic marine debris and curb carbon dioxide emissions. They also encouraged state officials to establish a comprehensive network of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) that follow the scientific guidelines and draft new legislation that would make environmental sustainability a core subject in k-12 grade levels. The students also had a chance to lobby alongside various environmental organizations, including Heal the Bay.

That evening, Team Marine attended a formal reception and sustainable seafood banquet with numerous state officials and ocean advocates and was given an Ocean Hero Award by a California steering committee composed of CalCoast, Environment California, Heal the Bay, the NRDC, Ocean Conservancy, San Diego Coastkeeper, and Surfrider Foundation. Lester Snow, Secretary for Natural Resources welcomed the students that evening, and Mike Chrisman, a director for the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and former Secretary for Natural Resources presented the award to the students for their many contributions toward protecting the marine environment. Returning home along the coast, Team Marine visited the Monterey Bay Aquarium and camped in beautiful Big Sur.

Valerie Wacker of Team Marine commented, " We were honored to be recognized by such important people. We were the only ones there who were under 30, and we were treated like adults."

Jacob Hassett of Team Marine remarked, "Being on Team Marine and receiving this prestigious award has made me realize that this generation of youth may have the gift that can change the world."

Raphael Mawrence of Team Marine stated, "Being in Sacramento with my peers was one of the most memorable experiences of my life and showed how the youth can make the greatest impact of all."

Coach Benjamin Kay said, "For both the students and us mentors, the experience was a crash-course in how state government operates, and we all learned so much. The students were very well received by all state officials, and it reinforced the importance of people voicing their opinions to their representatives."

Team Marine is an environmental science-based eco-action group of teens dedicated to raising awareness about sustainable solutions to the global climate, energy, and plastic pollution crises through scientific research, educational outreach, community service, pop art and culture, multimedia, social networking, and community partnerships. Team Marine is a former winner of the QuikSCience and Edison Challenges, Generation Earth's Most Sustainable Project Award, August R. Veenker Award, The Climate Community Citizen of the Week, and the My Better Lifestyle Award given by the Los Angeles Lakers and East West Bank. For more information, please see the students‚ website or their blog.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Getting Creative in Newport, Oregon

The Youth Volunteers in Newport, Oregon did it again! They've implemented another fantastic project to complement their BWTF water testing and raise awareness in a very creative way of the impacts of stormwater pollution. Another great job! Local newspaper coverage below....

By Cindy Hanson

Newport, OR - Oregon Coast Aquarium youth volunteers partnered with the Surfrider Foundation to create a painting of a whale around a storm drain at the Nye Beach Turnaround. The “Storm Drain Art Project” intends to raise awareness about storm water and runoff pollution. Aquarium artist Michael Cole, known for his magnificent mural work at the Aquarium, painted the whale last Saturday. The youth volunteers have been coordinating the project with Cole and the Surfrider Foundation for the past six months, proposing the project to City Council and gathering materials. The City of Newport approved the first painting, and if the City approves of the next phase of the project, there will be more storm drain paintings in the area, intended to demonstrate that what goes into the storm drain goes into our oceans.

The youth volunteer team was first inspired to complete the art after learning about a similar project done by Surfrider Foundation with the Ocean Resource Team in Port Orford (2009). The youths wanted to educate the high number of visitors that enjoy the Nye Beach area and encourage them to make choices that have a positive impact on the environment. Recognizing that storm water pollution is a problem and everyone can be part of the solution, the youth team’s project aimed to deliver that message in a more meaningful way than a storm drain marker.

“What goes in our yards, streets and around drains ends up in the ocean and eventually negatively impacts us and marine life,” said Mechell Bailey, youth volunteer team member. “We thought this was a pretty cool way of demonstrating that connection.”

Throughout the winter the youth volunteers planned out their project. They researched city codes, regulations, located multiple possible sites around town, worked with local artist Michael Cole, wrote a project proposal and presented their idea to the Newport City Council in February. With a unanimous motion from the Newport City Council, the city staff enthusiastically supported preparing the site for the painting.

This year marks the third year that the youth volunteers and Surfrider Foundation have joined forces on youth volunteer water quality team projects. Working under the guidance of the Aquarium’s Youth Program Coordinator, Tricia Ratliff, and Surfrider’s Oregon Field Manager, Charlie Plybon, the youth volunteers help develop projects to raise awareness of the Blue Water Task Force Program. This citizen-based water quality monitoring program has been a partnership between the two organizations over the past seven years, giving volunteers hands-on experience sampling and testing water quality of local beaches. The past three years, the groups have worked jointly with a youth volunteer water quality team each winter, connecting the water quality program to a youth awareness project within the community.

“The youth volunteer team projects are an opportunity to develop leadership, project development, planning, and communication skills,” said Tricia Ratliff, Aquarium youth program coordinator. “More than anything the youth learn that community projects take careful planning, multiple strategies, and follow through. They start a project from conception and follow it through to completion and later present their projects to the general public.”

“My hope is that this project will help educate and make people aware of their actions, as well as be the start of many storm drain art projects,” Said Olivia PoncĂ©, youth volunteer team member.

The Oregon Coast Aquarium is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit educational attraction dedicated to the highest quality aquatic and marine science programs for recreation and education so the public better understands, cherishes, and conserves the world’s natural marine and coastal resources. For more information, visit the Aquarium’s Web site at or call (541) 867-FISH.

Photo Caption: Olivia Ponce, Charlie Plybon, Mechell Bailey, Tricia Ratliff and Tonie Vinson stand behind a new storm drain painting, intended to raise awareness about storm water and runoff pollution, at the Nye Beach Turnaround in Newport. Courtesy Photo

To view Oregon Coast Aquarium's web page on Zoo and Aquarium Visitor, go to:

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Newport Beach Teach & Test Program

The Newport Beach Teach & Test Program is now operating in eight local high schools and reaches 850 students! Congratulations to the chapter for developing and nurturing a very successful education program that is obviously fulfilling a local need. The below program description is posted on the Newport Beach Chapter website.

The Newport Beach Teach & Test Program is a fully-funded educational water quality testing program. The Surfrider Chapter provides all the equipment, training and materials for local high school students to collect, test and report on water quality in their area. Originally conceived as an 8-10 week program,the Newport Beach program has evolved into a flexible program that is easily incorporated into a module of Environmental, Marine or Global Science as well as Chemistry or Biology. Testing may be done on either fresh or salt water. Student activities include gathering water samples, sample preparation, incubation and interpretation of the results. Multiple tests over time allow the students to document changes in water quality as conditions change. Program participants are encouraged post their test results on the Surfrider website. The program was founded in 1994 and currently includes Valencia, Corona del Mar, Newport Harbor, Esperanza, Mater Dei, Costa Mesa, Orange, and Northwood High Schools. We plan to expand Teach & Test to many more high schools in our watershed as the budget allows. Please contact us to see if Teach & Test can be of value to your school. Contact Doug Peterson if you are interested in sponsoring one of our schools.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Santa Monica Teach & Test Mentorship Program

FEBRUARY 21, 2010

Teach and Test Mentorship Program

Pictured above: Member of the Teach and Teach and Test program Jacob Hasset takes water quality samples with students from Lincoln Middle School and SMASH by the Santa Monica Pier

Yesterday members of the Teach and Test Program at Santa Monica High School taught students from Lincoln Middle School and SMASH all about water quality testing and the importance of keeping our oceans clean. We took the students down to the beach where they each took a sample of the water and filled out a data sheet. Then they each were given the opportunity to process their sample in the laboratory and put their finished sample in the incubator. We tested their knowledge of what they learned with a game of Teach and Test Jeopardy! It was wonderful experience inspiring the youth to make a positive change in the world.

Pictured above: Members of the Teach and Test program Kou Collins and Daniel Franco teach a student from Lincoln Middle School how to process their sample in the lab.
More pictures from this field trip are posted here and unfortunately include many shots of plastic and other trash strewn across the beach. Hopefully while the Santa Monica students were helping to motivate a global movement of care for the coast, everyone was also inspired to Rise Above Plastics.