The California Coastal Commission (CCC) Public Education (PE) Program was adopted under the Coastal Act of 1976, Section 30012, which calls for the CCC to provide outreach to the general public, schools, and organizations in order to give the public a better understanding and appreciation for our coastal resources.
The PE Program has grown quite a bit over the years. In 2008, it began offering lesson plans on global warming and water resources for kindergarten classes, and in 2014, it started providing an activity guide to help high school students learn about the value of wetlands and the efforts to preserve and restore them. These initiatives introduce students to their environment and its restoration.
This year, multiple campaigns and events took place across the state. The annual Coastal Cleanup Day, held on September 16, drew more than 61,000 volunteers who helped remove over 650,000 lbs. of debris from over 1,000 cleanup sites encompassing 55 counties across California's coastline. This was the broadest reach in the program's history since it began in 1985.
Multiple workshops through the PE Program have been held this year as well, like the Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) Prevention Workshops in Benecia, Stockton, and Discovery Bay. These AIS Prevention Workshops took place with the help of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, and San Francisco State University's Romberg Tiburon Center.
The CCC also provides resources and training workshops for teachers and promotes educating students on California's coasts and the Pacific Ocean. A science activity guide titled “Waves, Wetlands, and Watersheds” is available at no cost to educators in California. The guide covers coastal geology and endangered species and can be acquired as a hard copy or digital download, in both Spanish and English.
An annual coastal art and poetry contest is open to K-12 students in California as well. The contest asks students to embrace the natural beauty and essence of the state's beaches and ocean. Each year, ten total winners are selected from two categories, with approximately 40 honorable mentions. The selected pieces are then displayed in a traveling exhibit at locations along the California coast. This year, the exhibit has made its way through Marin, Mendocino, and Ventura Counties, and will head to Santa Cruz in the coming months.
Another impactful program in place is Kids Ocean Day Adopt-A-Beach Clean-Up, which targets underprivileged schools and often provides a chance for students to experience the beach and the ocean for the first time. The program presents topics to students about the ocean, marine debris, and pollution prevention, and is coupled with a beach cleanup event. This year, approximately 8,000 students participated in the event.
In the city of Pacifica, the San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department is installing educational signs near shoreline and beach areas conditionally as part of a Coastal Development Permit approved by the CCC earlier this month. These signs have information pertinent to Pacifica's shoreline history.
As the world continues to adapt to the very real threats of sea-level rise and climate change, the PE Program works to inform tomorrow's leaders about what's at stake and promotes environmental stewardship in the protection and restoration of the California coastline.