We are proud to announce that we have received a $253,000 grant from the California Natural Resources Agency to fund our new Junior Sanctuary Stewards Program!
At Save Our Shores, we have long grappled with the inherent inequities in ocean conservation and education. In an effort to reduce barriers to local coastal access, under the Junior Sanctuary Program we hope to introduce increasing numbers of underserved youth to our coastal environment, connect them with marine ecosystems, and inspire them to become caretakers of this special place.
To accomplish these goals, we will conduct a 15-week (one day a week) after school program that will integrate elements of our existing Sanctuary Stewards training with content from our Next Generation Science Standards-aligned education program.
Already, we run a successful Sanctuary Stewards Program for adult community volunteers whose level of interest in participating in our coastal conservation and restoration work inspires them to complete a four-week training course that prepares them to lead a variety of our program activities.
With funding through the Community Access Grant Program, we will adapt and modify our Sanctuary Stewards training to make it applicable for youth, while also ensuring that it is meaningful and relevant for youth from underserved communities who have less access to the many beaches, coastal trails, sloughs, and wetlands of the Monterey Bay. In short, we will develop an after school program that will enable youth to become Junior Sanctuary Stewards.
The cornerstone of the program will be the development of a Youth Advisory Board, which will be comprised of students who have participated in our education program during one or more years of their K-12 formal education. The purpose of the Youth Advisory Board is to directly involve local high school students in both defining the requirements to become a Junior Sanctuary Steward and then in helping to design a program that will appeal to and engage middle school youth.
More than half of these grant funds will go towards the purchase of a bus that will enable us to transport participants to experiential learning sites, such as beaches along the Monterey Bay, coastal state parks, coastal nature trails, the Elkhorn Slough Nature Reserve, and the Watsonville wetlands, among others. Nature will be the classroom, with activities like tide pooling, nature walks, litter removal, and community science data gathering, making the experiences fun, meaningful, and memorable.
At the end of the 15-week program, participants will be designated Junior Sanctuary Stewards. Our new Junior Stewards will have opportunities to facilitate public education and outreach events, serve as associate site captains to lead beach cleanups, and be future Youth Advisory Board members for future Junior Sanctuary Stewards after school program sessions.
Donations to Save our Shores are leveraged to seek government and foundation grants like this one. Your donation today will help support all of our work and ensure the continuation of our educational programs for generations to come.
About the Youth Community Access Grant Program
Throughout the state, 65 projects were awarded through the California Natural Resources Agency’s Youth Community Access Grant Program to expand access to cultural and natural resources for youth in underserved communities, totaling over $14 million! 100% of all grant funding is going to underserved and low-income communities across California. These impactful investments will support youth programming by uplifting outdoor access projects that provide California youth with unforgettable experiences with California’s natural, cultural and historic resources.
You can find more information about the Youth Community Access Grant Program and how to apply by visiting https://resources.ca.gov/grants/youth.