Education: Kids for the Bay

Students in this San Francisco program go shoreside for science.
Text by Kristen Shelton

During the past 15 years, Kids for the Bay (KFTB) has transformed more than 40,000 elementary school students in Northern California into active environmental stewards. Through classroom workshops, projects at home, and field trips, these young participants learn effective ways to protect the coast.

Leslie Haynes, director of the KFTB Watershed Action Program, says they teach children to connect action with consequence. "The trash you throw in the creek today may endanger dolphins, pelicans, or even future generations tomorrow," she says. Most of the students live in an urban setting with limited access to the ocean. But with help from KFTB instructors, participants enjoy one of six programs that take them from the classroom to the Bay Area.

The signature Watershed Action Program focuses on pollution prevention through model building, creative presentations, and art workshops. One student's colorful poster reads, "Don't be mean, keep our watershed clean!" And it's not just the kids who benefit. Parents take part in the program by helping their children recycle and monitor water consumption at home.

After logging 10 hours in the classroom, the budding environmentalists head out to test water quality and investigate the natural surroundings in the Bay Area. "We try to open their eyes to places they previously did not see," Leslie says. Students on a recent field trip to Muir Beach pitched in for a spontaneous beach cleanup after noticing discarded plastic bottles and trash. Parents seemed a little surprised by their enthusiasm, but teachers and KFTB instructors just smiled knowingly. This is their goal―to cultivate a love of learning, particularly for science, and to inspire strong environmental consciousness.

KFTB; 510/985-1602 or kidsforthebay.org