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UC involves middle school students and teachers in wetland restoration

The Issue

More than 90 percent of Southern California’s coastal wetlands have been destroyed, largely for coastal development. Ormond Beach wetland, although severely altered by agricultural and industrial activities, is one of the best restoration opportunities remaining in Southern California. When the restoration is complete, Ormond Beach wetland will be the largest wetland in Southern California. Currently Ormond Beach is difficult to access, has no signage directing people to the beach and little parking for visitors. Consequently, most Ventura County residents, including many of the low income, multicultural children who live nearby, are unaware of its existence. Restoration of the wetlands surrounding the beach will provide important wildlife habitat, improve the quality of runoff entering the ocean and provide an important natural recreational area for residents.

What Has ANR Done?

UC Cooperative Extension intiated the "Research and Education for Students and Teachers about the Ormond Beach Restoration" (RESTOR) Project. The project educates local teachers and students about wetlands, watersheds and water quality through hands-on education. It includes two teacher workshops, three teacher research days, classroom visits by a local water quality expert, a student field trip to Ormond Beach and a student research cruise to the Channel Islands on a National Marine Sanctuary research vessel. Teachers learn about the Ormond Beach wetland restoration project from local university and non-profit scientists, then participate in collecting scientific field data that is made available to restoration scientists.

The Payoff

Teachers and students learn about watersheds and monitor wetland water quality

The RESTOR project is meaningful to both teachers and students since it is focused on a real-world restoration event happening in their backyard. Through water quality monitoring teachers and students not only learn scientific techniques and principles, but also get an understanding of the link between human activities in the up-land watershed and water quality at the beach. During the teachers' three field research days, they take samples for laboratory analysis and measure basic water quality parameters (conductivity, dissolved oxygen, pH, temperature and turbidity) of water entering the wetland from local storm drains, as well as in the wetland itself. At the end of the school year teachers present their results to colleagues and community members. Students participate in restoring native plants and take field water quality measurements at the wetland. They learn the importance of wetlands in improving water quality, providing wildlife habitat and as places to visit for their natural beauty.

Most of the 500-plus RESTOR project students come from ethnic backgrounds under-represented in marine science fields. The RESTOR project provides students and teachers, mostly from schools with few resources, with an excellent outdoor education opportunity. It gives them access to the natural world around them and capacity to be directly involved in improving their environment.

Clientele Testimonial

I was very impressed about how engaged the students were with the topic and about how much they learned. I want to thank you for this - your RESTOR project made a huge impact on my students! - Kathy Simpson, RESTOR Project teacher


Supporting Unit:

Sea Grant Extension Program, Ventura County
Monique Myers, nicmyers@ucdavis.edu. (805) 645-1482