Students in this San Francisco program go shoreside for science.

By Kristen Shelton
January 24, 2008
Courtesy of Kids for the Bay

During the past 15 years, Kids for the Bay (KFTB) hastransformed more than 40,000 elementary school students in NorthernCalifornia into active environmental stewards. Through classroomworkshops, projects at home, and field trips, these youngparticipants 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. "Thetrash you throw in the creek today may endanger dolphins, pelicans,or even future generations tomorrow," she says. Most of thestudents live in an urban setting with limited access to the ocean.But with help from KFTB instructors, participants enjoy one of sixprograms that take them from the classroom to the Bay Area.

The signature Watershed Action Program focuses on pollutionprevention through model building, creative presentations, and artworkshops. 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 recycleand monitor water consumption at home.

After logging 10 hours in the classroom, the buddingenvironmentalists head out to test water quality and investigatethe natural surroundings in the Bay Area. "We try to open theireyes to places they previously did not see," Leslie says. Studentson a recent field trip to Muir Beach pitched in for a spontaneousbeach cleanup after noticing discarded plastic bottles and trash.Parents seemed a little surprised by their enthusiasm, but teachersand KFTB instructors just smiled knowingly. This is theirgoal―to cultivate a love of learning, particularly forscience, and to inspire strong environmental consciousness.

KFTB; 510/985-1602