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Environmental Education & Community Outreach

  • Support for numerous diverse environmental education programs
  • Over 500,000 students reached
  • Numerous volunteer efforts
  • Fellowships and Internships
Environment clean up event on the Port of San Diego Tidelands

An Environmental Champion for the San Diego Bay and surrounding tidelands 

The Port engages in several pro-active education and outreach efforts including support of numerous environmental education programs, annual restoration and cleanup events, and community outreach and awareness campaigns that address environmental pollution and natural resources connected with San Diego Bay and its watershed. 

Environmental Education Program

The Port’s award-winning Environmental Education Program (EEP) was developed as a pro-active way to educate students, teachers and community members about pollution prevention, environmental championship, healthy ecosystems, and natural resources connected with the San Diego Bay. Through annual funding, the EEP supports local organizations that provide innovative environmental education curriculum to schools and communities within the San Diego Bay watershed. The EEP also supports education and outreach requirements established by the Municipal Stormwater Permit as outlined in the Port’s Jurisdictional Runoff Management Program (JRMP).

Since 2003, the EEP has provided environmental education to approximately 500,000 students in schools throughout the San Diego Bay watershed, regularly reaching students attending Title I schools. Organizations supported under the EEP have provided a diverse range of educational content through field activities, classroom exercises, laboratory experiments, informative field trips, and engaging online curriculum. Through participation in EEP programs, students and the general public have learned about the value and diversity of natural resources connected to their watersheds, the importance of pollution prevention and watershed protection, and how to be environmental stewards moving forward. 

The Port is currently supporting the following programs under the EEP:

Chula Vista Elementary School District Coastal Education Program

Through its partnership with the Living Coast Discovery Center (LCDC), the Chula Vista Elementary School District (CVESD) Coastal Education Program provides standards-based lessons and hands-on curriculum focusing on environmental protection and conservation themes, including pollution prevention, stormwater management, watershed protection, habitat restoration, and endangered and sensitive species connected to the San Diego Bay. 

I Love A Clean San Diego

Through its Connecting Kids and Communities to Conservation program, I Love a Clean San Diego (ILACSD) provides environmental protection and pollution prevention education to students throughout the San Diego Bay watershed. Using interactive classroom presentations, hands-on post-presentation cleanup events, and community workshops and/or cleanups, the program covers the importance of water and watersheds, key pollutants and their effects, and how students can become environmental stewards to prevent pollution in local waterways. 

Living Coast Discovery Center 

The Living Coast Discovery Center (LCDC) Watershed Discovery: Connecting and Protecting San Diego Bay program takes advantage of its unique location within the San Diego Bay National Wildlife Refuge to provide environmental conservation and environmental stewardship education to students and guests. The program consists of three components: a field trip that utilizes docent-led tours and educator-led lab activities to address conservation, watershed protection, pollution prevention, native plants and animals, and responsible outdoor recreation; public education utilizing instructor-led hands-on activities and interpretive signage designed to educate the general public on pollutant prevention and watershed protection related to the San Diego Bay; and habitat restoration and clean-up that engages volunteers as well as the general public. 

Maritime Museum of San Diego 

The Maritime Museum of San Diego Ecology and Economy of the Bay program addresses the role of the San Diego Bay in the regional economy, and the fragility of the San Diego Bay’s ecology specifically related to human impacts. Students initially board the Museum’s steam ferryboat Berkeley, and then take a trip around the Bay aboard the Museum’s boat Pilot.  Students participate in a series of marine science experiments to learn about the Bay’s history, its flora and fauna, pollution prevention, sediment and water quality, and the way humans have impacted the San Diego Bay. 

Ocean Discovery Institute

Through its Student Initiative Program and the new Living Lab facility, Ocean Discovery Institute provides classroom, hands-on laboratory, and field-based programming connecting students to the San Diego Bay watershed. Lessons address coastal ecosystems, watershed management and protection, and conservation of natural resources while introducing students to a wide range of science professions. 

Outdoor Outreach

Outdoor Outreach’s YES: Youth Environmental Stewardship Project program utilizes recreational learning and hands-on environmental education and stewardship to educate, train and mobilize students from environmental justice communities within the San Diego Bay watershed. The program engages and connects students with San Diego Bay’s natural resources by incorporating environmental lessons on watershed dynamics, pollution prevention, and local ecology with recreational activities including hiking, biking, and kayaking, as well as participation in local trash clean ups and restoration events. 

Resource Conservation District of Greater San Diego

The Resource Conservation District (RCD) of Greater San Diego Watershed Connection program is an interactive classroom lesson connecting students to their local watershed. Lessons focus on water pollution issues including non-point source pollutants such as petroleum products, detergents, fertilizers, and pet waste, and introduces students and educators to appropriate best management practices. Using hands-on lessons to demonstrate watershed modeling, students learn where common pollutants are typically generated, how these pollutants travel from streets to waterways, and how to best manage and prevent further impacts to their watershed. 

San Diego Audubon Society

The San Diego Audubon Society Outdoor Explore! program provides after-school outdoor environmental education to students through physical activity, exploration and exposure to natural spaces in their community. Focusing on the Otay River watershed, this program combines naturalist-led lessons with student-led self-exploration to provide students with an understanding of the function of floodplains and human impacts on habitat and water quality specific to the San Diego Bay. 

San Diego Coastkeeper

The San Diego Coastkeeper Water & Climate Stewards of San Diego Bay program is an enhancement of the existing District-funded online Water Education for All curriculum, which continues to provide environmental education to students and teachers within the San Diego Bay watershed. This program supported the development and pilot testing of a new climate science lesson and included an overview on climate science, the influence of natural processes and human activities on climate, and ways to measure carbon and water footprints. Lessons are available free online to all educators. 

The Ocean Foundation - Ocean Connectors

The Ocean Foundation Ocean Connectors program provides hands-on environmental education through field trips, in-class lectures, and land and water-based eco-tours. The program provides instruction on the ecosystems of San Diego Bay and cultivates an understanding of coastal environments, the connection between terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, and the health, cultural and economic value of San Diego Bay. As a component of the program, students use a “knowledge exchange” with student peers in Mexico to further their understanding of natural resources, recording and presenting information collected and learned from program participation. 

Zoological Society of San Diego

The Zoological Society of San Diego Guardians of the Bay program provides intensive week-long project-based environmental education lessons for sixth through eighth grade students through a combination of in-classroom learning and outdoor investigations around San Diego Bay. The program creates an opportunity for students to generate change in local communities and watersheds, thereby supporting the overall health of the San Diego Bay. Each student grade level studies a different subject that fits into an overarching theme of environmental health specific to the San Diego Bay. The program introduces students to climate change and its impacts on local watersheds, pollution prevention, and natural resources through an all-school assembly. Specific grade level studies are then introduced, including data collection and scientific observation in the field, data analysis and interpretation of results in the classroom, and field application of the learned scientific skillset. 

Volunteer & Restoration Efforts

The Port supports numerous site-specific and bay-wide volunteer restoration and cleanup efforts. Please visit the Port calendar to see what events are currently planned for the year. Regular efforts include the following annual events: 

  • Coastal Cleanup Day 
  • Operation Clean Sweep 
  • Staff Day of Service 
  • Power SCUBA 

Ocean Planning

The Port is actively engaged in Ocean Planning efforts.

 Visit Ocean Planning for more

Sea Grant Fellowships & Internships

The Port currently acts as a host agency for the California Sea Grant State Fellowship Program, which offers recent marine science and environmental policy graduate students the opportunity to work within a public agency. Fellows at the Port work closely with Environmental Conservation and Aquaculture & Blue Tech staff to acquire "on the job" experience both in the office and in the field providing valuable scientific and technical expertise to assist in advancing Port projects.

More information on Sea Grant


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