Field Dispatch: Fridays are for Environmental Ed

PaHoua Lee & her Oakland Conservation Crew Visit the Marine Sanctuary

Sea lions, and monkeyface eels, and kayaking oh my! Everyone loves Fridays, including SCA crews. A wonderful aspect of participating in a Community Crew is the fact that Fridays are designated as environmental education days. Crew leaders plan activities and trips that expose crew members to local initiatives, green businesses, and recreational experiences.

Our first Friday commenced with a trip to the Gulf of the Farallones Marine Sanctuary. Their mission is to protect an area of over 1200 miles off the coast of California. Educators teach lessons about marine life, coastal habitats, and the role humans play in the health of the ocean. Visitor Center Manager Justin Holl gave us a wonderful tour and shared news about upcoming events. If you haven’t visited, check them out the next time you’re in Crissy Field. The Gulf of the Farallones Marine Sanctuary is also hosting “Get Into Your Sanctuary Day” on August 2.

We learned some interesting marine facts. For instance, Monkeyface Eels are actually not true eels at all, but a type of fish! There are 7 types of Sea Lions in the world, and they belong to the pinniped family meaning these marine mammals have winged feet! And did you know that there can be up to 100,000 krill in a cubic yard of ocean water? Have I swallowed krill before while swimming in the ocean? Very likely. As for humans, we saw just how devastating our waste can be to marine life, and realized that the simple acts of picking up our trash and recycling plastic is a benefit to all. In addition, crew members were able to network with a local organization that needs volunteers, organizes regular educational events, and is working to save the ocean and its creatures!

Although the morning was quite exciting, we ended the day with a kayaking trip! We met with the San Francisco State University Sailing & Kayaking Program for some fun at Lake Merced. Some youth kayaked around the lake, while others focused on kayaking in a straight line rather than circles! For some, it was their first time being on the water in a kayak. Being able to introduce youth to outdoor recreation is another fun way to inspire a connection to the outdoors. Ever wondering about playing Blob Tag on the water? Get in a kayak and give it a try!

It’s not just the professional work experience our crew members benefit from throughout the summer; these environmental education days are just as crucial in providing opportunities for learning and engaging in the outdoors to build the next generation of conservation leaders and inspire lifelong stewardship of communities and the environment.